Survey on Policies, Procedures & Benefits of AEC Firms finds budgeting and policy changes in the industry

Jul 19, 2016

Zweig Group’s 2016 Policies, Procedures and Benefits Survey of Architecture, Engineering, Planning and Environmental Consulting Firms was just released on July 22, 2016. This legacy publication was updated in 2016 with the addition of data from Zweig Group’s spotlight surveys, more in-depth studies on specific topics. The report covers many of the questions that firm leaders are faced with when they look to develop their firm’s administrative policies and set annual budgets. These topics include: maternity/paternity leave, paid time off, professional development, compensation, relocation, 401K plans, group health insurance and more. The report also investigates the education, background, responsibilities and compensation of human resources personnel. The survey found that only 21% of firms with 1-24 employees and 47% of firms with 25-49 employees have a true HR director. In the absence of an HR director, the most common title of the person who is in charge of human resource functions was “operations/office manager” and/or a “finance/administrative employee.” Seventy-eight percent of respondents said that the person in charge of HR functions participates in the firm’s annual business planning process. But only 18% of respondents said the person in charge of HR functions has an MBA or other master’s degree. Most firms (74%) paid out a bonus to their HR director last year. The median HR director’s bonus, as a percentage of their salary, was 4.7%. High and very high profit firms paid out a significantly higher bonus than the other profit categories (see figure 1). Among the firms budgeting a pay increase next year, the median percentage increase was 3.5%. This figure outpaces the Society for Human Resources Management figure for US based business of 2.7%, showing some optimism for continued growth in the A/E/C industry over the next few years. The survey also looks at just how valuable particular plans are for the firm as far as attracting and retaining top talent. For healthcare, many firms are paying a significant portion (70-80%) of the premium for employee only coverage and around (50-80%) of the premium for employee/family plans. Smaller firms tended to pay a smaller percentage of the premium for both employee only and employee/family plans. Seventy-one percent of respondents offer tuition or fee reimbursement for continued education. The median dollar amount covered was $3,000 but for those who pay a percentage of the costs, the median percentage paid was 90% of tuition. These costs were typically (78%) recovered upon successful completion of the coursework. Only 4% of respondents did not pay for any fees associated with a professional society membership. In the event that meeting fees or annual dues were paid by the firm, the overwhelming majority paid the fees in full (100%).

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.