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No. 2 large Top Workplace: RK&K engineers its workforce for the future

For Rebecca Lutz Williams, what distinguishes RK&K as a workplace is that “from the top down, the leadership seems to genuinely care about the employees.”

That approach shows up in myriad ways at the Baltimore-based full-service engineering, planning, environmental and construction management/inspection firm.

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“A little way is how they make sure to celebrate their employees’ anniversaries. Every year, you’ll get a gift,” said Williams, a project engineer in the roadways group who joined the company in March 2020.

RK&K employees from left, Gretchen Gusmano, senior project engineer; Melissa Miklus, landscape architect; Brad Deise, landscape designer and Sminu Sudhakaran, architect, helped create and build the 26th Street Green in Baltimore. The RK&K engineering firm is the Sun's No. 2 large Top Workplace for 2021.
RK&K employees from left, Gretchen Gusmano, senior project engineer; Melissa Miklus, landscape architect; Brad Deise, landscape designer and Sminu Sudhakaran, architect, helped create and build the 26th Street Green in Baltimore. The RK&K engineering firm is the Sun's No. 2 large Top Workplace for 2021. (Lloyd Fox/Baltimore Sun)

“A big way they do it is by listening to their employees and changing policies based on that,” she continued. “Just last year, they implemented a new parental leave policy, which gives at least eight weeks’ paid leave to birth mothers and two weeks’ paid leave to fathers or adoptive parents. Very few engineering firms give those sorts of benefits.”

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Founded in 1923, RK&K has some 1,300 employees working at its Maryland headquarters and 30 branch offices in 10 states and Washington, D.C. This year, RK&K ranked 62nd on the Engineering News Record’s listing of the Top 500 Design Firms.

In addition to the usual benefits, RK&K offers tuition reimbursement and professional development credits as well as perks such as breakfast every Friday and annual events like a family picnic, an ice cream social and a Christmas party.

The company also celebrates its work.

In October, team members attended the groundbreaking ceremony for Morgan State University’s forthcoming Health and Human Services Building, a $171 million, 208,000-square-foot facility. RK&K was responsible for utility design and site development as well as stormwater management and drainage design for the new building set to open in 2024.

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While RK&K’s projects engender pride, Williams is equally proud to work alongside “creative” and “passionate” colleagues.

After getting married in October 2020, she learned they’re also considerate and generous.

“I’d only been with RK&K for seven months, mostly remote work due to COVID,” she said. “Despite the fact that I’d never met him, my [co-worker] Mike Gifford went online, found my wedding registry and bought us a gift. I was blown away. ... But those are the kinds of people I get to work with here.”

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