March 23, 2021

Haskell Office Chosen as one of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Top Workplaces

'I feel like we've accomplished something that we've been trying to accomplish for a while.’

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The cornerstone of Haskell 2025, the company’s strategic plan for purposeful growth, is nothing less than the vow to “Provide Team Members with the Best Job of Their Lives.” In the estimation of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and AJC.com, Haskell’s Atlanta office is making it happen.

The AJC announced that it had chosen Haskell Atlanta as one of its 2021 Top Workplaces, an honor bestowed on only 175 of the 3,268 companies nominated or asked to participate.

With the help of the employee research and consulting firm Energage, the media company uses a scientific survey process to determine the premier large, midsize and small companies. Haskell’s Atlanta office, which employs about 70, ranked No. 52 among small companies, defined as those with a headcount of 149 or fewer. Companies with fewer than 85 employees must have had at least 30 survey respondents. Overall, Haskell has more than 1,600 team members across the United States, Latin America and Asia-Pacific.

The honor was meaningful for Bela Jacobson, Haskell’s Director of Packaging Operations and leader of the Atlanta office.

“I was very excited," Jacobson said. "I feel like we've accomplished something that we've been working toward accomplishing for a while. You always want to be better than you were. As an engineer, I want to get a 100 percent on everything. But receiving that recognition shows that we’re making strides from where we were four years ago.”

Almost exactly four years before, Jacobson was in her second month in the leadership role when Haskell received the results of its annual internal employee engagement survey. Atlanta ranked last among all offices.

The issue, Jacobson recalled, dated back four years before that, when the office had quickly filled a significant number of open positions to meet the needs of clients under contract. Capacity had taken priority over culture, and she was charged with turning that around.

“Immediately,” Jacobson said, “the focus was on ‘How do we fix this?’”

She began by concentrating on two key areas: Alignment with Culture and Technical Ability.

She had candid conversations with team members about their fit with their assigned roles, discussing each person’s desired scope, what they hoped to accomplish and where they wanted to be. Some stayed where they were. Some changed roles. Some moved on to roles that better fit their skills and desires. Not one employee was dismissed.

This year’s annual internal employee survey shows engagement results that have improved by double-digit percentages since the effort began.

“Haskell’s vision to provide team members with the best job of their lives is comprehensive, where each Haskell office is as essential as the next,” said John-Paul Saenz, Haskell COO. “Bela and her team deserve great credit, as strengthening our Atlanta office is effectively strengthening the entire Haskell enterprise.”

An industrial engineer by training, Jacobson learned as she went in her change-agent and leadership roles with the help of a professional coach.

"I think a lot of what has turned around has been getting more people involved in bigger decisions,” she said. “Doing more feedback sessions and getting more information from different people in different roles at different levels helps drive how we manage and lead the business unit. We’re intentional about which projects people are on based on what they need in order to develop skills and get promoted. We’ve addressed the organizational chart so that the reporting structure is more aligned with people's career goals and strengths.”

Atlanta established a Best Places to Work committee to plan events in and outside of business hours. An office remodel was “a labor of love” for the whole organization. A dedicated Microsoft Teams channel gave team members a forum to post and discuss ideas for their new break room.

“We had what was essentially a bracket challenge over what drinks would end up in the soda machine,” she said. “Having a say in how things are decided is important. People feel like they're part of a bigger team, even if they're entry-level or an intern.”

Being named a winner in this year’s AJC Top Workplaces contest was the first for Haskell Atlanta, but Jacobson promises that it won’t be the last.

"I've learned that no matter what decisions we make, there's no perfect answer to anything,” she said. “We can always be better. But getting that recognition showed, we've done something; we've made it. Now, I want to make it again next year and the year after that. I don't want to just sit on our laurels.”

Haskell delivers more than $1 billion annually in Architecture, Engineering, Construction (AEC) and Consulting solutions to assure certainty of outcome for complex capital projects worldwide. Haskell is a global, fully integrated, single-source design-build and EPC firm with over 2,000 highly specialized, in-house design, construction and administrative professionals across industrial and commercial markets. With 20+ office locations around the globe, Haskell is a trusted partner for global and emerging clients.

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