Burns & McDonnell
What They Do
Provide consulting and related services in engineering, architecture, construction, environmental design, and other areas. The firm specializes in more than 300 service areas - everything from aviation to water resources management.
What Makes Burns & McDonnell Great
Burns & McDonnell (a.k.a. "Burns & Mac") is 100 percent employee-owned, which lends the workplace a palpable spirit of teamwork and pride. Under the stock ownership plan, eligible employee-owners receive cash in their individual accounts, which is used to purchase shares at the current fair market value. No one owns more than 2 percent of the stock. “Employee ownership is a huge part of the culture,” says one employee-owner. “We look out for each other, trust in one another, and go the extra mile when required because we all believe, we know that will be recognized, and we all win. That has been proven over and over again.”
Based in Kansas City, Burns & McDonnell employs more than 4,000 engineers, architects, construction professionals, planners, estimators, economists, technicians, scientists, and others, all of them bound together by the fact that they are co-owners.
Indeed, while the company was founded in 1898, employee-owners here will tell you the more important date is 1986, when the firm became employee-owned. Employee ownership “is a strong motivator to work as a team and make the company successful, and thereby make yourself successful in the process," explains one employee-owner.
“It's a larger organization that feels smaller,” says another worker. “This is probably due to the attitude of the people, and how we don't have a lot of upper management layers. It all makes for a fun place to work where we want to work hard for each other.” Ninety-seven percent say that people here are willing to give extra to get the job done.
Employee-owners are also grateful for "the chance to take on some of the most advanced and unusual projects being developed in the world." They value that this is a company that “rewards hard work and effort” where “you get to learn new things every day.” Ninety-six percent say that people here are given a lot of responsibility.
In addition to being exposed to a variety of professional experiences, Burns & Mac'rs are offered access to loads of in-house training, with many courses taught by fellow employee-owners. Nine out of ten say they are offered training or development to further themselves professionally.
While a few people note that employees here are expected to work very hard, 81 percent still say managers encourage them to balance their work and home lives, and employees praise the “great family atmosphere” and sense of caring. As one person puts it, "When a Burns & Mac'r gets a new addition to the family, we all celebrate it as if it's one of our own."
Extending their spirit of pride outward, Burns & Mac’rs are actively involved in the community: the firm picks a single cause throughout the year (in 2013, it was the Boys and Girls Clubs of America), and employee-owners get involved not just by making donations, but also by volunteering on-site and lending expertise. They also support programs designed to promote gender and racial diversity in engineering and science. Ninety-seven percent say they feel good about the ways the company contributes to the community. Says one employee-owner, “It’s refreshing to work for a company that places so much emphasis on improving the local community, and not just in the Kansas City area, but every community we are apart of.”
A Necktie Culture, but Laid Back
When asked what would improve their workplace, the most common thread running through employee-owners' feedback was simply a desire for a change in the company’s dress code: "I would like to see the requirement for men to wear ties eliminated,” says one of many comments addressing this issue.
Despite the dress code, Burns & Mac overall has a laid back feeling, and a sense of humor is welcome. At one of their company meetings, the Board of Directors and senior leaders dressed up like the Avengers and role-played a story in which a team of villains took away the employee-owner culture.
“Burns & McDonnell places an emphasis on celebrations and we are constantly working toward the retention of our employee-owners," says one employee-owner. "We celebrate major milestones and project successes and also engage in regular outings as a group to maintain relationships with our co-workers."
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