TZL 1346

Percentage of total staff in finance and accounting T R E N D L I N E S M a y 2 5 , 2 0 2 0 , I s s u e 1 3 4 6 W W W . T H E Z W E I G L E T T E R . C O M

We’re using videoconferencing more than ever, but constant communication isn’t the same as effective communication. Overcoming ‘Zoom fatigue’

T he Benjamin Franklin idiom that there’s nothing certain except death and taxes could be amended to include one more certainty: “communication” will always be listed as an area for improvement in your company’s employee feedback surveys. The COVID situation has many of us on more videoconferences than we believed the internet was capable of supporting, leading to reports of “Zoom fatigue.” This is important: constant communication is not the same as effective communication. Communication is consistently one of the lowest-scoring areas on employee feedback surveys and on client perception studies that our advisory team conducts on behalf of our clients. It’s almost never issues with technical expertise or low-quality deliverables. Instead, your clients tell us that their top challenges are responsiveness and communication overall. According to Zweig Group’s 2019 Policies, Procedures & Benefits Survey , oral and written communication skills and the ability to work well with others are ranked No. 2 and No. 3 consecutively in most important factors for performance reviews of a staff member; I do not believe we will see a change in this particular data point post-COVID. With that, a few recommendations for exceptionally robust communication: ❚ ❚ Treat videoconferences more like in-person meetings when that is the intention of the meeting. Unlike a conference call, where it is possible to take notes or to multitask if your role is supporting the leader of the conversation or driver of the agenda, a videoconference is all-consuming. The universe has finally found a way to ensure undivided attention, which is not what the world has prepared us for in an era of constant emails, texts, and social media update notifications, which I think is causing some to experience videoconference anxiety and exhaustion. ❚ ❚ Communicate expectations and protocol for meetings and calls of all varieties. This means sharing an agenda or topics to cover in advance as well as any material that those attending the meeting should arrive prepared to discuss. Assign a point person for different tasks in advance of the meeting – who will be taking notes, who will lead the conversation on certain topics, why you have invited certain team members to the meeting, etc. If someone will be taking notes or using their computer to support the conversation by pulling up files during a videoconference with a client, I’ve found it effective to let them know this (so it doesn’t look like you have a disinterested colleague checking email during a call). ❚ ❚ Share examples of fantastic communication with your team. During a recent internal training for our staff at ZG, I actually shared

Finance and accounting staff as a percentage of total staff was analyzed among firm participants in Zweig Group’s 2020 Financial Performance Survey of AEC Firms . This follows a common theme among nontechnical staff in which the department staff percentage decreases as the total firm size increases. Because of this increase in responsibility for finance staff in larger firms, financial directors see a bump in base salary almost twice the industry norm.

Jamie Claire Kiser

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F I R M I N D E X ERA Architects......................................10

faulkner edc............................................4

JDS Consulting & Design........................4

JDSfaulkner. ...........................................4

Shear Structural......................................6

Ware Malcomb......................................10

MO R E A R T I C L E S xz CHRISTINA ZWEIG NIEHUES: The lost art of the press release Page 3 xz Better together: Karen Jenkins Page 6 xz MARK ZWEIG: Guerrilla marketing tactics you can use Page 9 xz ROB HUGHES: Focus on cyber risk insurance Page 11

See JAMIE CLAIRE KISER, page 2

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