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The Constant Battle to Obtain and Retain Top Tier Talent



The challenge of finding and retaining qualified candidates has become the most difficult issue for firms across the country with a recent survey saying that 44% of the participants listed it as their number-one concern and 23% listed it as their second-highest challenge. Also, 84% of the respondents said they are having difficulty recruiting new employees, while also seeing an increase in turnover as well. 


Not only is high turnover a big factor in staffing right now, but the biggest issue that the AEC Industry is facing is that there is a rapid decline in individuals joining the AEC workforce, along with a significant number of current workers retiring. Ultimately, the combination of the two shrinking the talent pool. According to the National Center for Construction Education & Research, approximately 41% of AEC workers, including a sizable portion in management roles, are expected to retire by 2031. Which could mean fewer mentors training the new generation. 


While most companies in the AEC industry are expecting double digit growth this year, according to the Engineering Management Institute, 96% of companies surveyed said their talent shortages in engineering will impede their growth. With not enough current experienced talent, and the shortage of obtaining new talent, firms will see a larger strain of satisfying current clients and possibly fail to deliver a high standard of services offered. With this larger strain on current employees, it may result in further low morale and ultimately higher turnover. 


It is projected that staffing challenges will likely continue into the upcoming year, which means that business leaders will have to take swift action in attracting new talent, while finding a way to decrease turnover. Both will come at the cost of course, some may need to increase their budgets for labor costs such as hiring, onboarding, employee pay, benefits, and incentives. Some AEC firms are even looking for creative ways to attract new candidates by offering sign-on bonuses, attractive benefits packages, and hybrid flexible hours. While companies are offering incentives to newly hired employees, this brings a new dilemma: current employees will be seeking higher pay and better benefits. Most companies will have to either make the hard decision to give in to the current staff demands or take the hit by them, possibly finding it elsewhere. 


In a recent survey with the Engineering Management Institue, 58% of respondents reported feelings stressed at work and that it was affecting both their mental and physical health. Industry leaders have acknowledged this issue, 71% of them saying that stress is negatively impacting their companies. 


 Ultimately, the industry leaders need to take a step back and get a complete view of how their business is running and how they want it to run. Getting employee feedback is one of the greatest ways to help your company get better, and to get insight on what is needed to help them to do their jobs consistently and in a less stressful environment. This could ultimately help reduce turnover and point HR in the right way of what type of talent is needed to help facilitate current employees. 


Anna Kendall | Project Manager at Emissary

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