TZL 1351 (web)

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HR department size

With some ingenuity and proper planning, the AEC industry can adapt and thrive in any climate. Duct tape and baling twine

Zweig Group’s 2020 Policies, Procedures & Benefits Report of AEC Firms asked firms to enter the size of their human resources department as well as the total firm size. The chart above shows the average number of HR employees relative to total staff size groupings. Generally, firms really focused on expanding their HR department once their total staff size surpassed 100 employees. The percentage of the firm’s employees in the HR department ranges anywhere from 1 percent in larger firms to 6 percent in smaller firms. Participate in a survey and save 50 percent on any Zweig Group research publication. F I R M I N D E X A. Morton Thomas and Associates, Inc...4 CORE Consultants, Inc...........................6 GFA International, Inc..............................4 Latitude 33 Planning & Engineering.........2 Nova Geotechnical..................................4 Pennoni. ...............................................12 PES Structural Engineers......................10 Sain Associates. ...................................10 Universal Engineering Sciences, LLC. .....4 Ware Malcomb......................................12 MO R E A R T I C L E S xz MARK ZWEIG: Every business is a people business Page 3 xz Balance: Blake Calvert Page 6 xz JIM MEADS & ALICIA BAILEY: Outgoing and incoming Page 9 xz LIZ MCCORMICK: Business development in AEC firms Page 11

I n addition to my job at Zweig Group, I’m also a full-time horse farmer. I live on 24 acres in a rural area, surrounded by hay fields, horses, and cows. With summer finally here, and working from home, I’ve never felt more connected to this role. Here are a few things I’ve learned from my time as a farmer that apply to the AEC industry: Farmers are always prepared for the worst. In my experience, farmers are generally optimistic people, but when dealing with live animals and Mother Nature, we recognize that things will always go wrong. When you have a good hay harvest, you know the next one will not likely be as plentiful. A temperate winter increases the odds of an overly hot summer with insect and pest infestations. There’s a balance of every moment of bounty that will be followed by difficultly and scarcity. I’m old enough to remember a time in the AEC industry that was difficult. When I graduated from college, the housing market had collapsed. It was near impossible for many people to buy new homes, construction starts in most markets were low, financing was difficult. Jobs in all sectors were hard to find. Low-level entry positions for writing or marketing were filled with people with years of experience and graduate degrees. Like most things, this recession didn’t last forever. Before COVID-19 we were experiencing another boom time. A time of high harvest for the AEC industry with increasing salaries, revenue, and profitability. The industry’s biggest challenges were finding qualified staff and keeping up with a high demand for work. When COVID-19 hit the United States in March, it seemed like everything changed overnight. Today, more than 70 percent of firms in the industry have experienced COVID-19 related project cancellations or delays, more than 80 percent feel business development activities will be or have been impacted negatively, and the performance of the U.S. economy is the top ranked concern for AEC firm leaders (according to the latest results of a Zweig Group survey). When faced with a crisis, the first reaction is to turn to austerity. AEC leaders have had to ask themselves what they can cut? Salaries? Programs? Marketing? Can we patch in technology we have to get working from home? This initial reaction is necessary. When a farmer wakes up to a fence that is down, a broken tractor, and a freak snow storm that’s iced in everything, they can’t just go back in the house to sit down and wait out what might happen next.

Christina Zweig Niehues

See CHRISTINA ZWEIG NIEHUES, page 2

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