Recruiting and Retention in the AEC Industry: Navigating the Pain Points

If your company is struggling to recruit and retain employees, you are not alone. While most companies in the architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) industry expect double digit growth in 2024, there is a significant AEC worker shortage.

In a recent Quire survey of clients throughout the United States, 84% of respondents said they are having challenges recruiting new employees. Talent scarcity has been so difficult, in fact, that some AEC firms say they are reaching out to former colleagues who have retired and bringing them back to meet requirements.

Talent retention is also a challenge. Seventy percent of Quire respondents cited turnover as an issue in the labor shortage. Retaining knowledge and expertise is critical and losing it creates hurdles for winning business and delivering quality products for clients.

Why Recruiting Is a Challenge

While many factors contribute to the labor shortage in the AEC workforce, some of the top include:

  • A Shrinking Talent Pool. According to the National Center for Construction Education & Research, approximately 41% of AEC workers, including a sizable portion in management roles, expect to retire by 2031. This not only reduces the pool of available workers but means there are fewer mentors to train the next generation.
  • Fewer People are Joining the AEC Workforce.  Recruiters are having significant challenges finding and hiring the right staff, even for positions like project engineers and equipment operators that were traditionally easy to fill. According to the Engineering Management Institute, 96% of companies surveyed said talent shortages in engineering will impede their growth.
  • Economic Constraints Make It Tough to Compete. Inflation and supply chain challenges can make it tough to carve enough out of your budget to attract and retain top notch talent. This is especially true for smaller firms that are competing against companies with bigger budgets to pay AEC workers.

Another Challenge: Retaining Talent

After you hire them, holding on to your talent can be challenging. There are several factors that lead to AEC employees switching jobs.

  • Stress and Burnout. In an Engineering Management Institute survey, 58% of respondents reported feeling stressed at work that affects both their mental and physical health. Industry leaders acknowledge this, with 71% saying burnout and stress are negatively impacting their companies.
  • Workers Seeking Higher Pay and More Benefits. While the overall job market has swung in favor of employers, in the AEC industry, employees hold more of the cards. Many workers report switching companies in search of higher pay, flexible work arrangements, and other perks. Plus, employee culture is often a significant reason employees make a switch.
  • A Training Deficit. According to the American Institute of Architects California, investing in training for employees at all levels within a company is an important part of retaining talent. For each worker who leaves, getting new staff up to speed can take months. Having a good onboarding process is extremely important, as is providing ongoing training and development to keep attrition low and foster a culture of continuous learning.

What’s the Answer?

The good news is that there are things you can do to make it easier to hire and retain employees.

  • Add the Right Tools and Technology.  One solution that can have a big impact right now is to add tools and technology to offload repetitive time-consuming tasks like technical report writing and management. This not only makes your team’s life easier, but it also helps to supplement your workforce so you can get more done with the staff you have.
  • Listen to Your Employees. Survey your staff to find out how they’re feeling about their jobs, including where their pain points are and where they might feel overwhelmed. Inviting solutions to improve the corporate environment from all levels of employees, not just managers, can also lead to solutions that benefit your entire staff.
  • Invest in Training. Assess and identify gaps in your workforce and create training programs that help to address the missing skills. This is often a good place to mine the knowledge of your experienced staff, partnering them with less experienced workers to share knowledge and information.
  • Develop Career Paths. Giving employees opportunities to learn, develop, and take on increasing levels of responsibility—along with increases in compensation—is one of the best ways to retain talent. Create and communicate clear paths to growth with all employees.

Maximize Efficiency: Achieving More with Less Manpower

It is also essential to have the right automation in place that will handle routine tasks in a way that is far more efficient and help both in retaining workers and in enhancing productivity with fewer workers. Technical report deliverables have traditionally been manual and inefficient, resulting in wasted resources and limited capacity for additional work. This often leads to workers feeling overwhelmed and burnt out, hindering productivity, and causing dissatisfaction.

The Quire Technical Report Management™ platform solves this problem by offering powerful, user-friendly software, that turns a manual, siloed process into a collaborative, automated approach to workflows and development of report deliverables. Plus Quire’s TRM Includes a bi-directional synched mobile solution fully integrated into the platform for field data collection, reporting, and sharing capabilities. Through their proprietary, field-friendly design, users can easily take notes, caption photos, and upload an entire gallery of images and relevant data from a mobile device, then finalize the report back at their office or hand it off to a writer seamlessly.

This enables staff to create technical report deliverables much more efficiently, reduce report and proposal development time by up to 40%, drive greater throughput, and ensure higher-quality deliverables to drive top-line growth. Many AEC firms have adopted the Quire platform to increase their report writing productivity, handle more deliverables with fewer employees, and improve their overall work environment for teams.

By bringing your workflow together in one central environment, Quire helps you onboard and ramp up new talent quickly since the process is already built, sits within a closed loop system, and is repeatable. Plus, it retains knowledge even when someone exits the firm, since the process, artifacts, and access stay with the system—keeping projects on track and allowing your team to collaborate with ease.

Join Our Webinar to Learn More!

Quire experts will delve into this timely topic during our March 20 webinar on Navigating AEC Labor Shortages: Tech-Driven Solution Unveiled. It’s a great chance to gain strategic insights and practical strategies for solving the labor shortage dilemma.

Register today!

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