Zweig Group just released its 2018 Policies, Procedures & Benefits Survey of Architecture, Engineering, Planning and Environmental Consulting Firms. 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 their annual budgets. The survey addresses maternity/paternity leave, paid time off, professional development, compensation, relocation, 401K plans, group health insurance, and more.
In an age when Harvey Weinstein was removed from his own company for salacious accusations and the president of the United States has been caught up in numerous scandals and harassment claims, we find it amazing that fewer companies in the AEC industry would have formal sexual harassment policies in place than there were three years ago. In 2015, 96 percent of responding firms stated they have formal policies in place prohibiting sexual harassment. This year only 86 percent stated they have a formal policy in place. In an industry that is more than 70 percent male, these kinds of programs not only protect the individuals in the firm from harm, but also protect the firm itself from a legal perspective.
Though this trend is somewhat disturbing, we found the seemingly lax nature of policies and procedures addressing drug use and harassment, perhaps, to be more indicative of firm cultures that are addressing a changing workforce rather than complete oversight or negligence on these issues. Human resources (HR) is changing quickly. In an article posted by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), Kate Bischoff, an employment attorney in Minneapolis, said, “HR is moving from processing paper to making sure individuals feel valued in the organization.” In the same vein, by moving away from zero tolerance policies, “Organizations have to figure out a scale for harassment and build policies around what they as an organization can tolerate,” Bischoff said in a follow-up interview. “Social media has become a 24/7 happy hour for co-workers. It seems like every case I work on, social media is a major component of the case.”
Zweig Group’s survey found that the average HR director in an AEC firm has about 18 years of experience and earns a base salary of $97,000. Most firms (74 percent) paid out a bonus to their HR director last year. The median HR director’s bonus, as a percentage of their salary, was 6.3 percent. Forty-four percent of all responding firms did not have a full-time HR department, meaning that the staff handling HR functions also handle other responsibilities in the firm. In the absence of a full-time HR director, the most common titles of the person who is in charge of human resources was HR Manager and HR Generalist.
Ninety-one percent of responding firms contribute to 401K plans for staff. Of these, the average contribution was just under $250,000, or $3,600 per employee. This came to just under 3 percent of the firm’s net service revenue, which is gross revenue minus subconsultant fees and reimbursable expenses.
Equipped with the knowledge found inside Zweig Group’s 2018 Policies, Procedures & Benefits Survey, firm principals and HR practitioners can make informed decisions regarding the budgets and benefits packages that they will deploy in the coming year. In the context of remaining competitive in an ever-changing industry, knowing how your competitors are handling HR can give your firm the tools it needs to make sure employees are getting the best benefits package you can provide.
Will Swearingen is director of Research. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.