Throughout its history, Haskell has been committed to the education and advancement of its team members.
“We've always had excellent learning opportunities and a focus on career development, and that’s been part of what has made Haskell a great company to work for,” said Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer John Paul Saenz, who, during his 25-year Haskell career, has earned an MBA and completed numerous executive education programs with the company’s support.
But in recent years, as it implemented and operationalized Haskell 2025, its roadmap for strategic growth, Haskell outgrew its capacity to adequately train and engage its fast-growing workforce. Achieving the Haskell 2025 charges of “providing team members with the best jobs of their lives” and “driving operational excellence” would require meaningful and intentional investment.
“As we saw this growth, it was clearly important to provide more structured technical skills training to provide meaningful career development to our new team members,” Saenz said. “The approach of significantly investing in learning and development recognizes that we need dedicated operations resources and subject matter experts for consistent training platforms across the entire company.”
After expanding steadily through its first 50 years, Haskell’s workforce doubled to nearly 2,100 team members from 2017 to 2022. With more than 20 offices in the United States, Asia-Pacific and Latin America, maintaining the quality, consistency and certainty of outcome clients expected became a priority. For example, a project manager hired in St. Louis, Missouri, needs the same onboarding and experience and understanding of methods and expectations as a project manager hired in Mexico City or Singapore.
In July 2020, Brooke Jones-Chinetti was named Director of Learning and Team Engagement to oversee the development of goals and strategies. Jones-Chinetti and her team have led an overhaul of Haskell University, the company’s Learning Management System, to make the curricula more accessible and include features such as personalized subject interest tags and badges based on courses completed. New and upgraded courses offered, which include timely and relevant subjects such as diversity and inclusion, design thinking, and mental health, allow employees to develop universally applicable workplace competencies.
Three new trainers and four instructional designers have standardized and significantly improved training. Through a streamlined approach, elevated learner experience, and alignment to the development needs of team members, Haskell’s training hours increased by 53% in 2021.
“There was no limitation to what our investment in technical training skills would look like,” Saenz said. “We simply said, ‘What’s the right thing to do, and what’s the best way to do it?’ We thought about what we owe the team from a learning, development, and engagement standpoint and that informed us on our investment. This mindset allowed us to explore how we could provide an immediate, meaningful, and sustainable impact to our team members and clients, and led us to the development of our AEC Operational Training Program. This unique program partners a dedicated team of subject matter experts in architecture, engineering, and construction with accomplished learning and development professionals to develop industry leading technical training in our core markets, disciplines, and services.”
Training not only informs team members and helps them better serve clients, but it also creates a sense of community. Team members are seven times more likely to be engaged when they understand what is expected and how to accomplish it. The team’s growth and development directly correspond to engagement ratios, which have been steadily rising along with the quality of work.
Each year, Haskell partners with Gallup to administer its highly acclaimed Q12 Engagement Survey, which provides a snapshot of team members’ sentiments on 12 statements. The extensively researched surveys provide a snapshot of attitudes and inform action plans for improvement. In 2022, 55% of Haskell team members were highly involved in and enthusiastic about their jobs compared to the U.S. Workforce average of 32%. Overall, its 9:1 ratio of engaged to disengaged team members far outpaces the global average of 4:1 for companies using the Q12 survey.
“Understanding that the trajectory that we are on is founded in our values, our culture, and our strategies is foundational to our company,” says Jim O’Leary, Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and President. “We want to grow the business, enter new markets, grow our customer base, but all of that will require integration with the culture and values that we have as a company. The company’s success going forward will be a culmination of strategy and culture intersecting.”
By purposefully investing in a diverse, engaged, well-educated, well-equipped team, Haskell has continued to meet its ultimate goal of achieving meaningful and profitable growth.
“If we look back 10 or 20 years from now,” Saenz said, “the one strategy that will stand out as being the most significant will have been the Learning, Development and Engagement investment that we put into place. I’m sure of that.”
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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.