Monday, March 5, 2012

Retaining Your Staff through Rough Times

While the economy remains stalled, some predictions suggest a modest growth this year approaching just under three percent, with a significant turnaround expected in 2013. While the economy remains a major influence on our decision-making process, other factors need to be considered as we develop and implement our 2012 business plan. From marketing to workplace culture, and from IT to HR, staying on track with your business plan means juggling more than just finances and new work. And through the juggling, more than anything, you want to retain your talented staff. Consider the following:

• There is a shortage of good help. Despite the high unemployment rate, a number of people have abandoned (some by choice, some by job loss) the design professions for academia and training in other industries, in search of work. Many of the unemployed are not the cream of the crop.

• A number of firms are merging or being acquired. This is due to both the economy and the huge number of Baby Boomers leaving the workforce. Significant merger and acquisition transactions have or will alter many firms’ cultures. Changes in leadership and ownership offer new opportunities and new challenges.

• Software and Information Technology is evolving at a dizzyingly rapid pace. Did your firm put off buying software upgrades or new computer equipment to preserve cash? Your firm may find that it has fallen behind the competition with the latest technology. Lost efficiencies in delivery systems may have softened, and the bottom line will show it.

• Employees should be kept in the loop. Communicate with your staff. Let them know where the firm stands and what you are doing to prepare for the year and beyond. Be honest and direct. Your employees need to know where they stand as well.

• Stress and fear are at an all-time high. Eliminate stress. The past several years have been hard on everyone, top to bottom. Everyone needs some reassurance but people also need to know the real truth. Be open, and above all, be honest. No “yada yada yada” speeches.

• Benefits need to evolve with the time. Look at your benefits package. Pay raises and other benefits have suffered the past couple of years. Evaluate and restore benefits as conditions warrant, even if in small amounts.

• Is Your Firm a Good Place to Be. Is your firm the best place to work? If it is not, start making adjustments to the firm’s “culture.” See what other firms are doing to improve morale, culture, or office appearance.

With the right strategies in place, you can improve and maintain your staff through rough times, improving times, and the best of times.

Want to learn more about how to retain and engage your staff in 2012? Register for PSMJ’s upcoming A/E/C Industry Human Resources Summit. The HR Summitis a senior level HR event specifically designed to address the increasing needs and demands of senior leaders of HR, as well as other key executives who deal with the critical employee and firm issues on a daily basis. Through panel discussions and best practices presentations, you learn through examining successful real-life case studies, receive A/E/C survey results, while networking and asking your peers for their proven solutions to problems just like yours.

For more information, click here to download the program brochure or contact our Education Department at or 617-965-0055.

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