Better benefits for retention

Aug 20, 2023

Sara Parkman


Competitive employee benefits play a critical role in addressing recruiting and retention challenges in AEC.

The data in Zweig Group’s 2023 Policies, Procedures & Benefits Report of AEC Firms can be used to address one of the most pressing challenges in the AEC industry today: recruiting and retaining top talent. In order to stay competitive in this landscape, it is more important now than ever for firms to offer attractive employee benefits packages and competitive salaries.

Just how hard is the great resignation hitting the AEC industry? Respondents reported turnover rates reaching nearly 15 percent in the past year and a significant aggregate growth in staff of almost 9 percent, which means HR departments are facing the daunting task of hiring 25 percent of their firms’ total staff count each year – a process that can be both time-consuming and expensive. This data further emphasizes the importance of effective employee benefits in reducing turnover and attracting top talent.

What is your competition offering? The report reveals that many firms are budgeting for pay increases in the upcoming year, with a median increase of 5.5 percent. However, competitive salaries are just one piece of the puzzle when it comes to attracting and retaining employees. The survey also highlights the importance of benefits plans in this regard. Firms seem increasingly willing to invest in employee benefits, with some paying a significant portion (85 percent) of the premium for employee-only coverage and up to 75 percent for employee/family plans.

One notable finding is that employee paid insurance premiums have decreased for the first time since 2016. The cost of employee-only coverage is around $110 per month, while employee-family plans have come back under $500 per month. This trend indicates that firms are taking proactive measures to alleviate the financial burden on their employees.

We have seen parental leave policies evolve in recent years to be more inclusive to all new parents, but many firms still institute maternity and paternity leaves as separate policies. This year, survey respondents reported their firms offer a median of five weeks of maternity leave and four weeks for paternity leave. Last year, respondents reported only a median of two weeks for paternity leave. This leap represents a huge improvement, but it is essential for firms to recognize the importance of supporting new parents and for them to strive for equal and inclusive parental leave policies.

The report also highlights the significance of continued education and diversity initiatives in attracting and retaining talent. A substantial 79 percent of respondents offer some form of tuition or fee reimbursement for continued education, demonstrating a commitment to the professional growth and development of their employees. Additionally, 67 percent of firms have implemented plans and initiatives to intentionally become more diverse, with the aim of increasing hiring and retention rates of specific groups.

Better benefits for better retention. Competitive employee benefits play a critical role in addressing the challenges of recruiting and retention in the AEC industry. Firms need to offer competitive salaries and benefits packages that their talent and prospective employees find attractive. By prioritizing these aspects, firms can position themselves as employers of choice, reducing turnover rates and retaining their most valuable asset – their people. It is essential for firms to regularly assess and benchmark their benefits against industry peers to stay competitive and ensure the long-term success of their organizations. Click here to read the full report.

Sara Parkman is a content manager at Zweig Group and senior editor and designer of The Zweig Letter. Contact her 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.