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Providing competitive compensation and benefits is the biggest challenge A/E firms face when it comes to retaining staff, according to ZweigWhite’s newly released 2008 Recruiting & Retention Survey of Architecture, Engineering, Planning & Environmental Consulting Firms.

"Over the last few years, cost control has been extremely challenging given the limited supply and strong demand for top labor," says Derwin Irvine, a principal at ZweigWhite and head of the firm’s Human Resource Advisory Services group. "Given firm leaders’ reluctance to increase fees charged to clients in today’s slowing economy, the inflationary pressure of high labor expenses has reduced profit margins."

Even so, firm leaders are feeling the pressure to attract and retain top employees. Close to three-quarters of firms (71 percent) say they actively attempt to provide more competitive salary increases than their peers. Seventy-two percent offer more competitive medical/dental plans. And the majority of firm leaders state these efforts have helped with retention.

The second-biggest retention challenge firms face is providing employees with a healthy workload/work-life balance. Firm leaders report allowing staff to work flexible hours within a certain time frame (78 percent) and providing a family-friendly atmosphere (68 percent) have been influential in attracting and retaining staff.

The 2008 Recruiting & Retention Survey of Architecture, Engineering, Planning & Environmental Consulting Firms is available from the publisher for $445, plus $8 shipping and handling. Click here for more information.

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