2020 Policies, Procedures & Benefits Report

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By Tyler Thompson

Zweig Group recently released its 2020 Policies, Procedures & Benefits Report of AEC Firms. This publication was compiled with data gathered from architecture, engineering, and design industry firms regarding firm policies, strategies, and benefit plans for the present and future.

Over 450 responses across three major online surveys were analyzed to provide an in-depth look at general policies, human resources (HR) staffing & spending, firmwide compensation strategies, insurance plans, and leave policies among many other topics. Additionally, these topics are broken down by firm attributes like staff size, firm type, region, etc. for specific firms to benchmark themselves against similar situations.

Most of the data displayed in the publication comes from two online surveys. In addition to the flagship Policies, Procedures & Benefits survey, responses from Zweig Group’s Best Firms To Work For survey were also included as applicable. Not only does the combination of responses from these two surveys strengthen the data sample, but it allows firms to benchmark themselves against the “best of the best’.

HR employees in the AEC industry made up a median of 1.6 percent of a firm’s total staff. Typically, this percentage is inversely proportional to total staff size, meaning that as a firm grows, its HR staff as a percentage of total staff decreases. This is seen in the publication where firms over 250 employees saw this percentage drop to 1.1 percent.

Over the last five years, HR spending as a percentage of net service revenue (NSR) has fluctuated between 1.4 and 1.8 percent. However, in the last two years, this percentage has remained stagnant at 1.7 percent. HR staff labor accounted for about 55 percent of total HR spending on average. The next highest expenditures were employee training, recruiting firms, and advertising.

To accommodate those looking to reassess their major policies during the COVID-19 pandemic, Zweig Group has also included analyzed data from its AEC Industry Outlook and Response to COVID-19 survey. Two-thirds of firms say that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused them to change their telecommuting policies. 71 percent of firms anticipate long-term strategic changes to how their staff will work in the future. Information on travel policies, business development, and networking as it relates to the pandemic are all shared in this publication

The compilation of data presented in this publication will give firms in the AEC industry the necessary resources to benchmark its current policies and react to the ever-changing work climate. The 2020 Policies, Procedures & Benefits Report of AEC Firms is a comprehensive study that will keep firms current and help them maintain employee satisfaction.


Tyler Thompson is the Research Manager at Zweig Group. He can be reached at research@zweiggroup.com.

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