Best Firms To Work For data dive

Jul 23, 2023

Kyle Ahern


A look at some of the trends from this year’s Best Firms To Work For award program.

In the last several weeks, we at Zweig Group have been so excited to deliver great news to firms all over the country – the news that their hard work paid off and they have been recognized as Best Firms To Work For. These firms are creating outstanding workplaces for their employees. They are leading the way in employee experience trends that are giving them a competitive edge in an increasingly tight labor market. And so many of the firms that won this year are repeat winners (78 percent to be exact). That means these firms are building on the success they have had year-over-year and continue to provide their employees with a fantastic work experience.

Let’s take a look at some additional data from our Best Firms To Work For program:

  • Employee sentiment. Overall employee sentiment is almost exactly aligned with scores from last year. Two thirds of the sentiment scores dropped, but those drops were very subtle in most cases and the gains made in the remaining third helped keep overall scores consistent.
  • Trust in leadership. Areas of concern or where scores dropped the most include trust in firm management, confidence that management would guide the firm to future success, and employees feeling secure in their job without the threat of downsizing. All three of these prompts are now at their lowest point in our dataset, dating back to 2018, with the exception of job security at the height of the pandemic in 2020. Leaders are really going to have to work hard to regain the trust of employees. However, I say that knowing the sentiment around those prompts really isn’t low, just that it wasn’t where it was in 2021.
  • Communication. Thinking back to 2021, there is one thing I can think of that firm leaders were doing that lead to higher confidence and trust in them and the firm overall – communicating. People were still going through such a transition in late 2020 and early 2021 that firms and leaders were communicating at a much higher level to make sure everyone was on the same page and that concerns were being heard. I believe this led to greater trust and confidence from employees.
  • Bonuses. Employee sentiment around the frequency and amount of bonuses were both way up compared to the rest of the dataset. Ninety-three percent of employees who worked for Best Firm To Work For award winners received a bonus in 2022. In total, Best Firms To Work For paid out nearly $328 million in bonuses in 2022. Employees are working extremely hard up and down the org chart right now. There is more work than ever for AEC firms and their employees. A good bonus program is a great way to recognize all the hard work that your employees are putting in and the 2023 Best Firms To Work For are recognizing that.
  • Parental leave. Another area of improvement over last year is sentiment around parental leave. The sentiment is at its highest level in the dataset, again dating back to 2018. This is wonderful to see and personal to me as I am just coming off parental leave after the birth of my second daughter. I believe it is one of the best benefits a firm can offer.

That is just a quick look at some of the data points that stand out the most to me from this year’s Best Firms To Work For data set. With almost 2 million data points gathered, there is certainly plenty more to explore. We will be covering more trends at the 2023 ElevateAEC Conference where we will also be celebrating our 2023 award winners. We’ll see you in Frisco, Texas, this September to celebrate and learn more

Kyle Ahern is an employee experience and data strategist at Zweig Group. Contact him at

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About Zweig Group

Zweig Group, three times on the Inc. 500/5000 list, is the industry leader and premiere authority in AEC firm management and marketing, the go-to source for data and research, and the leading provider of customized learning and training. Zweig Group exists to help AEC firms succeed in a complicated and challenging marketplace through services that include: Mergers & Acquisitions, Strategic Planning, Valuation, Executive Search, Board of Director Services, Ownership Transition, Marketing & Branding, and Business Development Training. The firm has offices in Dallas and Fayetteville, Arkansas.