How to Build a Better Workplace: Plano-Coudon named one of Baltimore’s best employers

It may not be obvious amid the ping pong tournament, the fantasy football competition and the Friday afternoon happy hours, but employee morale is serious business at Plano-Coudon Construction.

“One of the things that Ryan [Coudon] and I have always talked about is you spend more time at work than with any other people in the world, including your family, so you have got to make the work week enjoyable,” said Brett Plano, co-founder of Plano-Coudon Construction.

Plano-Coudon’s efforts to create enjoyable work weeks have paid off in good morale, great performance and, last month, in official recognition. The Baltimore Sun named Plano-Coudon Construction as one of the region’s Top 100 Workplaces.

Through a partnership with Philadelphia research firm Workplace Dynamics, the Baltimore Sun Media Group identified the region’s best companies to work for. Company rankings were based on employee surveys that focused on seven, key job-satisfaction factors:


  • Quality of work, training and work/life balance;
  • Managers who care about their employees and help them learn;
  • Pay and benefits;
  • The company’s direction, leadership and values;
  • The company’s ability to reach its goals; and
  • Feeling appreciated and engaged in meaningful work.

Various initiatives have helped make Plano-Coudon a desirable workplace, Plano said.

Within the last year, the company beefed up its longstanding morale committee (now called the P-C Boost Committee), adding representatives from every department. It also tasked the committee with planning all company social events, soliciting feedback from employees about workplace issues, and spearheading workplace improvements.

That change, Plano said, spurred exciting developments, including the creation of the company ping pong tournament, fresh suggestions for event venues, and a response to employees’ desire to eat healthier. The committee arranged to remove the firm’s junk-food vending machines and provide a steady supply of fresh fruit to the office.

Although the committee’s role is solely to support morale, one of its initiatives is also helping employees gain a better understanding of company operations.  Acting on employee requests, the committee and company leadership began organizing site visits so that office staff can better understand the work of site crews.

In addition, company leaders have long worked to establish a “culture of ownership” among employees. That includes hosting quarterly update meets with all staff to discuss  company performance and goals, educating employees on the work of other departments, and providing employees with autonomy over their projects.

Plano-Coudon currently enjoys employee-retention rates far above industry standards, Plano said. “We are very pleased that people are happy working here. It benefits the company, but it also makes everybody’s quality of life better.”