COVID-19 pandemic changed the fundamentals of the economy and multiple sectors of the economy, including the AEC industry. One of the greatest impacts has been on employment, as witnessed by an average of 4 million individuals quitting their jobs in the first quarter of 2021, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The “Great Resignation” is a term used to label this phenomenon that arose from a wide gamut of reasons. Those departing their workplaces stated they left for better pay or remote-friendly working conditions, to start their own businesses or quit with no firm plans but were confident they could find a better job in a rebounding economy.
Focus on Impact in AEC Firms
AEC firms must develop effective strategies to deal with future disruptions to be successful and sustainable. An AEC firm must determine whether to continue only in its core business and adjust or reinvent themselves to respond to the changing market environment. Business agility and competitive advantage are success factors that require attracting, hiring, and retaining top talent.
The AEC industry is and has been vulnerable to employment adversity. The pandemic intensified the shortage of white-collar talent as Baby Boomers retired earlier than expected and others quit for better opportunities. The number of active and passive job seekers increased because they were dissatisfied with how their firm dealt with adapting to the disruptions caused by COVID-19.
Lesson Learned About Firm Image or Brand Impact
One of the most impactful lessons learned about retaining and attracting the most qualified skills and experienced talent for an AEC firm is to absolutely ensure the firm presents a highly visible, positive and attractive image or brand to the marketplace. Here are a few ways to achieve that desired brand.
Establish a Strong Positive AEC Firm Brand
Research shows that company culture is one of the most important things a candidate considers when seeking a new job. More than 50% of all job seekers will avoid firms with a poor reputation. Top prospects seek a firm that is already known for its positive reputation as a great place to work by current and prospective employees. A positive culture also is a key factor to retaining talent.
Learn and Understand What is Important to Top Prospects
It is imperative to learn and know what is important to top prospects. Many employers still mistakenly believe that money is the most important consideration to a candidate. The truth is that research shows company culture is the number one consideration and that compensation ties at a distant second behind a desire for strong leadership and a clear vision for the future.
Continuously Monitor and Proactively Manage the AEC Firm Brand
The ubiquitous nature of the Internet requires a firm to ensure their reputation is untarnished by actively managing it online. This means combining SEO and digital PR strategies to help distribute content demonstrating good corporate citizenship and positive accomplishments.
The new reality or “The New Abnormal” continues to evolve as we move through the pandemic. The Great Resignation trend demonstrates a changing employment dynamic where talent must adjust to a new way of working. NOW is the time to look at this as an opportunity rather than strictly as a challenge!
-Glenn Ebersole, Director of Business Development, JL Architects