Recruiting and retention trends

Dec 20, 2023

Sara Parkman

The success of any firm relies heavily on finding the right candidates, but this process can be complex and costly.

Recruitment and retention have become increasingly critical topics for AEC firms seeking to stay competitive in a dynamic job market. The success of any firm relies heavily on finding the right candidates for each role, but this process can often be complex, time-consuming, and costly.

Zweig Group’s 2023 Recruitment & Retention Report sheds light on the intricacies of recruitment strategies and highlights the significance of making informed hiring decisions to optimize organizational performance.

Key takeaways from the report include:

  • In-house versus outside recruiting. Approximately 75 percent of surveyed firms have in-house hiring and recruitment staff, while 72 percent have sought the assistance of recruiting or executive search firms within the past two years to address their hiring needs.
  • Referral bonuses. Referral bonus programs have become increasingly prevalent, with 79 percent of respondents offering incentives to employees for successful referrals. The median referral bonus per hire is reported to be $2,000.
  • Open positions. Growing firms have a higher likelihood of having open positions and list a larger number of openings relative to their overall firm size. Additionally, the number of open positions as a percentage of overall firm size has continued to rise since returning to pre-pandemic levels in 2022.
  • Cultural fit. During the hiring process, firms highly prioritize cultural fit as a candidate’s most important quality, receiving a rating of 4.7 on a scale of 1 to 5. Smaller firms emphasize recommendations more, potentially due to their lack of an in-house hiring staff, while larger firms place greater importance on past work experience.
  • Remote work. The hybrid workplace has emerged as the new norm post-pandemic. The report examines the prevalence of remote or hybrid work policies and the motivations behind offering these benefits. Notably, 85 percent of firms allow employees to work from home on a fixed regular schedule, while 57 percent permit all employees to telecommute. The average firm with remote work policies requires telecommuters to work in the office for a minimum of three days per week.

Finding the right candidate for each job is essential to AEC firms’ success. Making a “bad hire” can cost time and money and ultimately lead to another search for the right candidate. The 2023 Recruitment & Retention Report is a valuable tool that AEC firm leaders can use to make informed decisions about one of the most critical areas of their business. To learn more and access the complete report, click here

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

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.