Is the Architecture Industry Encouraging Job Hopping?

Is the architecture industry creating a culture that inadvertently encourages job hopping? We dive into 4 things firms can do to retain their top talent.

The architecture industry has long been considered a stable and lucrative field for professionals with a passion for design and construction. However, recent data has shown that the industry may inadvertently be encouraging job hopping among its employees. 

This phenomenon can be attributed to a number of factors, including low salaries for licensed architects and limited opportunities for career advancement within firms. But what can firms do to stem this tide of job hopping and retain their staff? Here we’ll dive into what systems are in place that are causing job hopping, and what firms can do to encourage their employees to stay. 

Licensure Doesn’t Always Mean A Raise

One of the main issues with the architecture industry is the lack of significant salary increases for architects when they obtain licensure. While some firms offer up to a 9% raise for employees who get licensed, this figure is more often seen in small firms with less than 20 employees. 

For those working in larger firms, the increase may only be 1 to 4%. This discrepancy is troubling, especially when we consider that on average licensed architects make approximately 15% more than their unlicensed counterparts.

How does this make sense if licensed architects are not getting more than a 9% raise when they obtain licensure? The answer is job hopping. When an employee leaves their current job for a new company, they often receive a pay jump between 10 and 20%. In my personal experience, I received a 40% salary increase when I switched architecture firms shortly after getting my license. 

Going Beyond Cost of Living Raises

On the flip side, when an employee stays with one firm long term, they often only receive raises that meet yearly inflation rates. This is more concerning when we highlight that raises are most commonly percentage based. 

If an employee starts working at a company at an entry level position for a low salary, their raises are a percentage of that low salary. A 3% raise on a $40,000 salary is only a $1,200 salary increase.

Now, if you job hop somewhere that significantly increases your salary—let's say from $40,000 to $60,000—when you receive a 3% inflation raise the following year you are receiving a salary increase of $1,800 compared to the $1,200 you were receiving at your previous job. Even though it's the same percentage increase, $1,800 can go a lot farther to showing an employee appreciation and improving their quality of life. 

Based on this knowledge, why would an employee remain loyal to a company that is only giving them a 5% raise for obtaining licensure, when any number of different companies are willing to pay them 15% more to quit and join their company? 

The Long-Term Impacts of Job Hopping

So if job hopping is the best method to reach your desired and deserved salary, what's the issue? Even though it can help individual architects earn higher salaries, job hopping can have negative consequences for both the individual and the industry as a whole. 

For one, constantly switching firms can damage an architect's reputation and make it difficult for them to establish long-term relationships with clients and colleagues. This can lead to a lack of stability and job security for the individual. 

Job hopping can also lead to lack of job satisfaction. Moving jobs is stressful. It can be risky moving to a new company, the paperwork and training can be strenuous, and it means abandoning valued relationships with past coworkers and clients. 

On a larger scale, job hopping can lead to a lack of continuity and consistency within the industry. When architects are constantly moving from one firm to another, it can be difficult to maintain a consistent level of quality in design and construction. This can have a negative impact on the reputation of the industry as a whole, making it more difficult to attract new talent and clients. 

The Costs of Quitting

From a firm’s perspective, are you actually saving money by denying your loyal employees substantial raises? When an employee does jump ship to obtain that higher salary, it leaves a hole in their company that needs to be filled. Often, that firm will hire for the role from outside the company, and in turn they often actually spend more money hiring someone new than they would have spent investing in their original employee.

The cost of recruiting, hiring, and training a new employee adds up, and on top of that, they will often need to pay a new hire a higher salary to get them in the door. And where did this new employee come from? Another firm who wasn’t paying their employee enough—so this new employee is also job hopping in an effort to be paid their worth. You're also taking a risk on the value that your new hire will bring to your company compared to the original employee who left.

What Firms Can Do To Retain Talent

In light of the costs and downsides of job hopping, what can be done to address these issues and encourage more stability and growth within the architecture industry? One solution is for firms to prioritize employee satisfaction and offer more opportunities for career and salary advancement. 

Some specific solutions firms might consider to keep current employees happy are: 

  1. Consider offering a more substantial paid time off package.
    A mandatory PTO package of 3-4 weeks that encourages employees (or sometimes forces employees) to invest in their pursuits outside of work by taking time off.  

  2. Transition to a four day work week for the same salary.
    Companies across the globe are already implementing this concept, with interesting results. One study found that productivity at companies experimenting with a four day work week went up 22%, applications to open positions went up 88%, and absenteeism went down by 66%.

    And overall, employees reported feeling happier, less tired, and more appreciated by their workplaces. Though some people may balk at what appears to be an unconventional option, this is a relatively easy way to show your employees that you value their well-being and encourage them to stay at your company. 
  1. Increase the employer match for 401k investments.
    Show you care about your employees long term by caring about their retirement! Retirement benefits are an important factor that potential employees weigh when choosing a new job, so if you offer better retirement benefits than your peers, your employees might be more likely to stay where they are. 

  2. Offer a transparent pay scale and stick to it.
    The pay scale should reward employees for earned certifications, degrees earned, and years of service. If your pay scale is offering appropriate pay bumps for each of these achievements, this will serve as a motivator for your employees to keep pursuing certifications, education, and to spend more years at a company that is rewarding their loyalty.

    Transparency about this pay scale is important as well; if your employees have a clear idea about what they need to do in order to increase their salary or move up in their career, they’re more likely to work toward that goal with you than go through the hassle of moving companies. 

Increasing Employee Satisfaction 

Although there are many ways to increase employee satisfaction at work, none of them really matter if firms are going to continue to hire in new employees at a substantially higher rate than they are paying their current employees. That’s why I believe the transparent pays scale is most effective; stick to it for both current and future employees to create a work culture that encourages retention.

By investing in their employees and offering a clear path for growth, and appropriate raises, firms can reduce the need for job hopping and create a more stable and loyal workforce. It starts with the firm, not the employee. Reward your architects for their achievements and pay them what they deserve! 

The architecture industry may inadvertently be encouraging job hopping among its employees due to low salaries for licensed architects and low outlook for raise potential. While job hopping may seem like a solution for architects seeking higher pay and better opportunities, it can have negative consequences for both the individual and the industry as a whole.

By prioritizing employee satisfaction and investing in career development, firms can create a more stable and loyal workforce, while architects can take control of their career paths and create more opportunities for growth and advancement.

Similar posts