Image Credit: Courtesy of OAC Services. OAC raises the most money for the Seattle Animal Shelter at the Furry 5k.
Sponsored by OAC Services
This article is part of a series focusing on select companies who placed among WA's 100 Best Companies to Work For in 2018, as determined by employee surveys that measure their perceptions and satisfaction across 82 individual attributes within 10 employment categories.
OAC Services has been an impressive leader in the Seattle community since 1955, and continues to adapt to evolving client needs while maintaining a dedication to its employees and to giving back. OAC is a multidisciplinary services firm that provides construction management, and forensic architecture and engineering services to clients in Seattle, Olympia, Everett, and Spokane, Washington; and San Jose, San Diego and Los Angeles, California. With a set of core values that puts community and integrity front and center - “cultivate love – generate energy – inspire audacity – provide proof”- OAC has once again made Seattle Business magazine’s 100 Best Companies to Work For, as well as Puget Sound Business Journal’s list of Washington’s Best Workplaces in 2017 and 2018.
OAC is growing, and it’s easy to see why. The company’s commitment to employee wellbeing, communicative leadership, and a strong sense of teamwork and purpose creates a company culture that is hugely valued among its 120-plus employees. In fact, OAC recently moved from South Lake Union to a hip, industrial open-plan office space in SoDo that is designed to further encourage collaboration and creativity.
Employees Hold the Key to Company Culture
OAC’s Core Values emphasize humanity and connection, leading to a supportive workplace culture that balances hard work with lots of play. “I have always loved working here and my love continues to grow daily as OAC continues to concentrate on its culture, and nurture and care for the people within it,” mentions one employee.
Noting company activities like skiing, pumpkin carving, and Sounders games, another employee states, “I like the atmosphere that is created in our company; all the fun events that are scheduled throughout the year to balance the work schedule. We all work hard but you need down time too, and they provide this.”
Even with such a cool work environment, everyone needs time for life outside of the office, which is why so many of OAC’s employees are grateful that the company values work-life balance and an open mind towards innovative structures, such as working remotely.
Image Credit: Courtesy of OAC Services. OAC reaches 100 employees.
At OAC, “everyone feels included.” One employee emphasized this: “The work environment is open and engaging, and promotes and values our diverse backgrounds and opinions.” This is based on OAC’s mission to attract the best people to their team.
The “awesome” culture at OAC is largely due to the employee-driven model: “The Culture Teams "generate energy," as employees make most of the cultural decisions in the company, as far as what type of place they want to work. It's so inspiring to wake up each day and know you are surrounded by a team and a company that truly cares about each other - and the community around us.”
Leaders Who Care
Great company culture wouldn’t be possible without great leadership, and the staff at OAC is especially glowing about theirs.
“From my perspective OAC is truly supportive of all its employees. I've worked for many companies that pretend to care, but rarely follow up with actions. OAC is different. They listen to their employees, provide opportunities and reward good work.” This emphasis on OAC’s sincere action toward employee wellbeing is a common thread in employee reviews.
Another example is how individuals are supported in pursuing personal goals and opportunities. “Leadership not only encourages, but supports progress and growth, providing training and educational opportunities for employees.” Another employee agreed, sharing, “The best word for this company is ‘encouraging.’ We as a team are encouraged to further our [individual] education and training.”
“My new boss sees my potential and wants to do everything he can to support my professional goals,” mentioned one employee. “This is why I love my job and I love this company.”
Image Credit: Courtesy of OAC Services. OAC rope training.
Further, many employees expressed appreciation for the extent to which the leadership upholds transparency and open communication. “OAC is a fantastic place to work… the leadership team is transparent about goals and company performance, and the benefits for employees and dependents are paid in full. I am so happy and proud to work for a family like OAC.”
Leadership is considered “human and approachable,” as appreciation for employees is often expressed personally: “Leadership all the way to the top appreciates what we do and often lets us know - whether at a company meeting, or when we cross paths in the office.”
A leadership that connects personally with employees builds a strong support system for everyone, including new hires. “Leadership at the highest level takes time to meet with new hires and get to know them in a one-on-one setting, engaging in discussions about the employee's goals and priorities, as well as sharing advice on how to be successful at OAC.” As one new employee remarks, “The leadership team is amazing! There isn't a chain-of-command feeling. As a new employee, who is also new to the field, I feel that I can go to any LT member or principal with questions or concerns and receive feedback or guidance. They honestly care for their employees.”
Where the People Matter
“The best part about being with OAC is working alongside talented individuals who also happen to be outstanding people,” declared one employee. “This is the ultimate recipe for how a good company becomes great. They invest in the RIGHT people. I feel incredibly lucky to be part of this amazing group.”
Many employees at OAC similarly focused on a mutual respect for fellow co-workers, and the incredible quality of the OAC team. “Every day, I feel like my team is eager to learn from one another and help each other grow.” Added another, “One of the things I love about OAC is that I am always learning from my colleagues in addition to any paid training or education I am interested in. It is so empowering to be surrounded by people who are so passionate about their work and motivated to do what they do every day.”
One individual even compared OAC to the NBA: “I see the experience like being part of a professional basketball team, when you're winning games, who doesn't want to be a part of the team?”
Image Credit: Courtesy of OAC Services. Even a bridge inspection is fun at OAC.
Walking the Talk
OAC places great emphasis on giving back to the community, volunteering services to local and international causes including YouthCare, Mary’s Place, the Seattle Animal Shelter Foundation, and Hopelink. “Perhaps what sets us apart from the pack the most is that we have a very strong culture of giving back,” declares one employee. OAC fosters this culture by building in time and opportunity for employees to work on volunteer projects, “…encouraging employees to support our communities. We can give our time to those less fortunate. For me, this is very powerful.”
“Giving back to our local, regional, and international communities is something we hold in high regard,” states OAC. “Social responsibility is intertwined with everything we do, and we are proud to have partnered with wonderful organizations by volunteering our time and donating funds.” The focus on community is a huge draw for many employees. “Enjoying what I do and whom I do it with is the single-most important thing to me. I love coming to work every day and making people's homes, workplaces, and schools better.”
“OAC lives its mission and core values. Our leadership encourages us to find and pursue our passions, and to walk our talk. When we mention improving the places where we live, work, learn, and play, that's not just business. It's personal. It's giving back to the community through fundraisers, donation drives, or volunteer projects. From top to bottom, we do what we say we will do.”