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HR Managers Say Health and Wellness Benefits are Most Popular at A/E Firms


HR Managers Say Health and Wellness Benefits are Most Popular at A/E Firms 

While employee benefits vary at A/E/P and environmental consulting firms, the most popular perks are generally the same across the board. Health insurance is usually number one, followed closely by wellness programs and paid time off.

"Of course the benefit that all employees want that's first on the list is health insurance, including dental, vision, and prescription coverage," said Sue Slade, human resources manager at the Spicer Group in Saginaw, MI, a 150-person consulting firm.

Kimberly Filion, director of finance and human resources for 25-person JMZ Architects and Planners, P.C. in Glenn Falls, NY, said that according to a recent employee survey, the most popular benefit at her firm is paid time off during the holiday season.

"We close our office between Christmas and New Year's to give everyone a well-deserved break," she said. "We pay them for this week at their regular rates; they do not have to save any vacation time."

Jennifer Bauer, human resources manager at TowerPinkster in Kalamazoo, MI, a 74-person architecture firm, said benefits that have been popular in employee surveys are all wellness related, including fitness center memberships, walking programs, weight loss competitions, and corporate team sponsorships.

"One that has been very popular but we don't plan on implementing until the economic situation turns around is a corporate-sponsored fitness center membership," she said. "Our program reimbursement would be based on usage and prorated."

When it comes to offering a benefits package that most employees are happy with, Bauer said choice is key.

"Giving employees the opportunity to pick and chose what is important to them and their families is always the best option," she said. "The standard offerings- medical, dental, vision, and prescription coverage- are usually high on everyone's list but the extra perks- voluntary life, employee assistance programs, orthodontia, AFLAC, etc.- those are usually situation-specific and have lower participation rates."

Slade said it's difficult to satisfy all employees, so benefits are tailored based on the needs of the majority, while also keeping costs to the firm in mind.

"Benefits that go unused or used by few are downsized or dropped," she said. "Benefits that tend to take a large draw on the company's finances will also be the ones looked at for changes should difficult times continue in the upcoming years."

About ZweigWhite: ZweigWhite is the nation's leader in enhancing business performance for architecture, engineering, and environmental consulting firms. The ZweigWhite team consists of experts in strategy, mergers and acquisitions, business valuation, ownership transition, human resources management, finance, marketing, market research, project management and project delivery methods who collectively produce a comprehensive suite of products and services, including advisory, consulting, newsletters, industry reports, executive training, business conferences, and more covering virtually every aspect of firm management. The firm is headquartered in Fayetteville, Arkansas, with additional
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