Top Ways to Address A&E Talent Management Challenges

January 10, 2023
Top Ways to Address A&E Talent Management Challenges

Talent acquisition and management are significant challenges for Architecture & Engineering firms in every area of the business and the notion of what employees want in an employer is evolving. Firms that can successfully differentiate their culture and employ the right tools and technology to enhance their talent management efforts will be poised to come out on top.

Based on results from the 43rd Annual Deltek Clarity A&E Industry Study, organizations are reporting that it's hard for them to focus on growth and bid new projects because they are not certain that they will be able to staff those projects. And as a result, Hiring Additional Staff was tied for the number one challenge for business development and financial management in the report. Thirty-five percent of the firms surveyed identified Hiring Additional Staff as the top business development initiative and 78% consider finding and retaining qualified staff a top financial challenge.

Top Business Development Initiatives

Data: Deltek 43rd A&E Clarity Study

Top Financial Challenges

Data: Deltek 43rd A&E Clarity Study


To meet these challenges and succeed, firms will need to focus on attracting, retaining, and developing their people and leveraging new technology tools and tactics. In addition, there is a need to think more strategically about hiring staff with the right skills and pursuing the projects that will be most profitable.

Acquisition and Retention Basics

Acquisition and retention are really very different. But they support one primary goal, finding and retaining talented staff. When thinking about acquiring good candidates it’s important to understand who will be successful in the organization. As human resource professionals or as architecture and engineering leaders, when you take a step back and acknowledge that you’re having difficulty finding good candidates, you need to make sure you have taken an opportunity to analyze what that means.

Look at what roles in your organization can be handled remotely, consider promoting from within, and implement strategies to make sure that you are providing as much diversity to your talent pool as possible to find the staff that makes your organization successful. Consider good transferable skills for open roles and identify people that you could train to take on key roles in your organization.

Create a Brand to Attract and Retain Staff

Finding top talent doesn't have to be as difficult as we often make it. Your company’s brand perception with your internal employees, your customers, and your external candidates are truly differentiators. A brand is more than a dressed-up website and marketing material.  It can also be viewed as the sum total of all your processes, actions and culture. Your brand gets communicated out by your employees and by your customers who know other people in the industry.

So, how do you ensure your brand is viewed as top notch with current employees and future candidates?

Three Ways to Help Your Firm Stand Out

  1. Build Trust
    Make sure you have a recruiting strategy to stay engaged with high potential candidates for future positions. This builds trust between recruiters and candidates. Fostering those relationships leads to more successful and quicker placements.
  2. Invest in Employee Success
    Maintain candidate energy during the hiring process, starting with onboarding and continuing that energy so that the employee sees the investment your company is making to ensure their success in their new role and throughout their entire career path.  
  3. Continue to Communicate
    Provide a culture of consistent communication. Once the employee feels a sense of being acclimated, that is where the investment continues with establishing continuous feedback discussions to plan for career advancement. Adding a learning path in a variety of learning formats will determine possible skills gaps and opportunities for upskills. It may indicate additional areas of interest or direction the employee may desire go in, but ultimately it is a continuation of investment in the employee’s career development.

Today’s Workforce Requires Culture Adjustments

According to the 43rd Deltek A&E Clarity Industry Survey.  Gen X (those born between 1961 – 1980) followed by Gen Y (1981 – 1995), make up the greatest proportion of today’s workforce. Nearly 70% of top-level leadership is Gen X with younger generations taking positions at the lower level of management as well. These generations are introducing new thoughts and processes as well as modernization into the workforce. To retain this younger workforce generation, it’s important to understand the type of culture they desire. 

Management by Generation

Data:  43rd Deltek A&E Clarity Study

The modern workforce craves relationship-focused employment experience. To create that experience, firms should think about using pulse surveys (1, 2, or 3 question quick hit surveys where you can get answers) to interact with staff on a consistent basis. Asking for staff opinions throughout the year on various topics (not just during an annual survey) demonstrates the company’s interest in hearing an employee’s perspective. In addition, employees desire company news and information which connects them to the company. Make sure the information you provide is timely, accurate and frequent.

3 Ways to Achieve Modern Performance Management

  1. Continuous Feedback
    This helps to build relationships, drive career development, improve engagement and retention across the organization.
  2. Continuous Goal Management
    Instead of annual performance reviews, meet with employees throughout the year with consistent feedback to help align company goals and employee goals.
  3. Recognition
    Recognizing employees for their hard work is a key to engagement and retention, which also boosts productivity, morale and happiness.

Invest in Learning and Development

Forty-eight percent of those polled in the 43rd Deltek Clarity A&E Industry Study reported learning and development as one of the most expensive business processes to support. However, it needs to be included in a modern workforce. Twenty-three percent of respondents have adopted a learning management system (LMS). Now that fewer employees are working on-site and more employees are interacting remotely, LMS has never been more important. Long gone are the days where everyone is getting together in the conference room and going through learning activities.

Learning and development programs benefit both the employee and employer. Helping to upskill staff provides a path to career growth for them in the organization and increasing retention rates save firms the cost of constantly paying third parties to recruit candidates.


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