With a comparatively limited stock of industry professionals, Midwest design firms continuously struggle with difficulties caused by staff turnover. The American Institute of Architects (AIA) recently posted an article addressing this issue, and in it, they indicate that the largest turnover rates are found among emerging and mid-career professionals. Given the state of the industry, architects and design professionals are feeling comfortable enough to make a move as opportunities arise. These opportunities may include enhanced responsibility, increased compensation, or unique and flexible benefits.
As the design and construction industries are cyclical in nature, there will inevitably be a slowdown in the future. That is not to say it will be as drastic as 2009, but it is something leadership and employees will have to keep in mind and be prepared for. In order to do that, firms must find quality employees now and keep them for the long haul. The article posted by the AIA spells out a few items employees are looking for in their work family. You can read each of these in detail on the AIA’s article here, but to summarize, they include:
Compensating Well and with Fairness
Compensation that is “informed by the market and and based on skill level and contributions…” is key to maintaining employee satisfaction. Although there has been a recent surge in average employee compensation levels (annual growth of 6%), when times get tough, firms must have other offerings to attract and retain their talent.
Improving Professional Development
Creating opportunities for employees to “contribute in more meaningful ways on projects” helps increase employee knowledge and satisfaction. When employees grow professionally, they become more confident and competent designers. This in turn will ensure the firm’s continued success and resiliency.
Prioritizing Career Advancement
Focusing on employee growth will demonstrate that the leadership believes in their employees by consciously investing in them. This will ensure employees are continuously challenged in order to prevent boredom or stagnation. Mid level architects in particular have shown to focus on advancing their role and responsibilities. Creating a professional environment that allows for and encourages this growth will keep employees intrigued.
People centered approach
Work Culture is a big phrase thrown around a lot nowadays. Creating a work environment that is agreeable with each employee is very important. Put plainly, you need to enjoy the people and place you work. After all, this is where you spend a majority of your waking hours.
When it comes to a successful business and sustained growth, people are the most important asset of any firm. Being a service industry rooted in maintaining good relationships, architecture relies heavily on the people who call their firm “home”. They are essential for providing quality service which in turn helps generate additional work. People enjoy working with people they enjoy. Maintaining the people asset can be one of the most difficult challenges to overcome for any business, but doing so is paramount to continued growth into the future.
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Josh Muckenhirn, AIA is a licensed Architect at ISG in Sioux Falls, SD. He received his M. Arch from NDSU in 2014, ventured further north for 2 years, and has called Sioux Falls home since the summer of 2016. His claim to fame is (at one point) being able to solve a Rubik’s cube in 32 seconds.