COVID-19 Isolation Has Deep Impact on A/E Workforce

Just Released Survey of Architecture and Engineering Firms Reveals 7 in 10 Added Employee Isolation and Burnout Prevention Benefits in 2020

According to PSMJ’s just-released 2021 A/E Bonus & Benefit Plans Benchmark Survey Report, 69% of firms responding implemented programs to counter employee isolation and burnout in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. PSMJ’s biennial survey of more than 250 architecture and/or engineering (A/E) firms’ incentive and benefits practices reveals a widespread concern with the negative impact of WFH (work-from-home) rules on employee engagement and mental health.

“While overall productivity didn’t decline precipitously as the Pandemic forced changes to how people work, A/E leaders clearly heard enough anecdotal reports to realize they had to do something to push back,” comments PSMJ Director David Burstein, P.E. “The other big number that jumps out is that 90% of A/E firms plan to permanently allow working from home, even as COVID-19 cases drop dramatically. So expect to see a lot of attention paid to countering the downsides.”

Among the other key COVID-19 related impacts on A/E bonus and benefits plans:

  • Firms’ 2020 bonus plan changes were uneven across the overall industry — about a third of firms saw a decrease in bonuses, another third kept bonus levels the same as fiscal year-end 2019, and another third saw bonuses increase.
  • Profit levels for 40% of the firms decreased due to COVID-19 in 2020. About a third of firms report profit levels increased in comparison to year-end 2019.
  • 39% of firms report salaries increased by year-end 2020, and only 8% reported salary cuts.

Other intriguing findings in the 2021 A/E Bonus & Benefit Plans Benchmark Survey Report show that a relatively small percentage of firms offer project bonuses (only 32%). While many firms believe project-type incentives should improve financial and client satisfaction results, very few firms actually implement a formal bonus program for their project teams. In fact, only half of firms in the survey believe their bonus programs actually motivate staff.

PSMJ recommends establishing a clear framework of the type of behavior and performance that drives incentive compensation, sharing key performance indicators so that everyone can see how their behavior is impacting firm performance, and paying bonuses frequently enough to reinforce the connection between behavior and bonus.

Now in its 11th biennial edition, PSMJ’s A/E Bonus & Benefit Plans Benchmark Survey Report provides data on the various types of incentive bonus plans and other employee benefits provided by firms in the A/E industry. In addition, the report analyzes the level of satisfaction with various types of bonus and benefit plans. It reports the results by firm size, type of service, geographic location, and type of client.  To benchmark your A/E firm’s bonus program, employee benefits, and much more, PSMJ’s 2021 A/E Bonus & Benefit Plans Benchmark Survey Report is now available.  Visit to learn more.

About PSMJ Resources, Inc.

For more than 40 years, PSMJ Resources, Inc. has been recognized as the leading publishing, executive education, and advisory group devoted completely to improving the business performance of A/E/C organizations worldwide. PSMJ’s sought-after expertise covers a range of critical business areas such as project management, financial management, human resources, business development, transition planning, and mergers and acquisitions.

For additional information please contact:
PSMJ Resources, Inc.
Gregory Hart