The Value of Human Resources in the World of Retail Architecture and Design


“If people believe in themselves, it’s amazing what they can accomplish.”


These words of Sam Walton accurately describe how SGA’s human resources professionals positively impact lives at our retail architecture firm. Going above and beyond to provide a platform and tools for retail architects to do amazing things in the architecture profession defines the work of SGA’s HR professionals. And it doesn’t stop there.

“At its core HR is about helping the architecture firm and the people that make up the firm be more successful,” said Clint Hoppes, Director of Human Resources at SGA. “I think that’s an important challenge — a challenge that calls for a balanced approach. I like helping people and I enjoy understanding the business and helping to identify and implement strategies that make both better.”


Empowering Retail Architects and the SGA Team

Business leaders often use the adage, “people are our greatest asset.” When it comes to retail architecture firms, this is especially true because each member of the team brings different knowledge and  skills to the table. “‘People’ is one of our core values because our team is our business. Firm leadership understands that selecting, teaching, empowering and rewarding people who exceed client expectations are keys to SGA’s success,” Hoppes continued.

So how does SGA attract talented retail architects and designers? For one, our HR team works to develop benefits, compensation and retention programs that make SGA an employer of choice.


Competitive Benefits at our Retail Architecture Firm

Our HR professionals work closely with a benefits broker to search the market for  best-in-class healthcare options for our entire team. They subsequently determine what options will provide competitive costs for comprehensive healthcare.


Compensation for Retail Architects and the SGA Staff

When it comes to compensation, we survey local and regional markets. A thorough data analysis ensures we’re not only paying our staff fairly, but competitively.


Flexible Hour Programs

As our retail architects and staff members work to balance professional and family life, we adopted flexible hour options and refined them to fit the preferences of our staff and the needs of our clients. In addition, we conduct ongoing research in order to continually improve on these programs.


Events Focused On Our Retail Architects and Staff

There’s a kid in each of us. Who doesn’t love laser tag, go-karts, bowling and golf? Each year, we organize two staff events that allow our team to get to know each other through social outings. In addition, we host an annual family picnic so staff can get acquainted with each other’s families. This year’s fall picnic will include hayrides, inflatables for kids, burgers, hotdogs and roasting s’mores over bonfires.

In addition to benefits, compensation and flexible hour programs, we provide support for our staff in other ways. For example, during our bimonthly “Lunch and Learn” meetings we invite vendors to the office so our retail architecture professionals can maintain their licensing and/or accreditation requirements without having to leave the office.

We also provide support services for aspiring architects. Our HR professionals are a driving force in our AXP (Architectural Experience Program) and ensure our emerging retail architects have an assigned mentor, a membership in the American Institute of Architects, and have access to the necessary study materials in the firm library.


Importance of Team Building for Retail Design and Architecture Projects

We believe the support efforts described above bring people together. People come together through collaboration. And the events and activities enable others to see each other in a different light. It encourages cooperation. It fosters improved interpersonal relationships. It facilitates communication. Ultimately, these are qualities that build a successful team.


Retaining Retail Architects

When it comes to retaining talented retail architects, Hoppes said, “We do our best to foster a career culture at SGA. We want to make onboarding a great experience and we’ve taken it further than just understanding where the coffee is and how to complete your timesheet. We make it a priority for new team members to sit down with each of our principals to learn more about them, the firm’s culture and our core values. We’re working to increase their engagement with us and their commitment to doing great work for our clients.”


Simplifying the Complex to Help Our Retail Architects Focus 

One of the most important objectives for HR is to make it as easy as possible for people to focus on their tasks. Sherry Volberding, HR Business Partner, said, “Taking care of our people is an essential function in our roles as HR professionals. Without our people, we wouldn’t have a service or business. Our goal is to make the work life of our staff members easier so that they can continue focusing on SGA’s clients.” She continued, “I have the ability to work with individuals across the firm. Since the beginning of my career, building these relationships with leaders and staff from various teams has always been important to me. This component has been a consistent one which is one reason I enjoy HR.”

One of the most important roles for HR is helping individuals with administrative tasks related to payroll and benefits. With HR resolving issues like these, our retail architects and staff can better focus on client service without worry.


High Expectations for SGA’s Future in Retail Architecture and Design 

Sam Walton also said, “High expectations are the key to everything.” And part of keeping your expectations high requires creating a company culture that allows people to believe in themselves.  We are in the good hands of dedicated HR professionals at SGA. By encouraging cooperation, facilitating workplace communications, and promoting team building, our HR professionals faithfully support our retail architects with the platform, tools and resources needed for success. We’re fortunate to have a team that goes above and beyond in providing our retail designers and architects the confidence to accomplish amazing things.