Employees at AEC firms say they need ample opportunities to learn and train. My advice is to give them what they’re asking for.
Each year Zweig Group collects millions of data points on the AEC industry. These come from our many surveys and publications, awards, and advisory services. Through these data points we can see what is working and not working. We can also see what employees are looking for. We find out what they want, what is most important to them, and how different policies enacted by their employers affect how they feel about working at that firm.
These data points allow us to pinpoint exactly what employees are looking for from their firm. What Zweig Group has seen in the last year is that employees want to continue learning and they want more training.
Learning and training is so important. This should be something they are always striving to do by using the resources inside of the firm each and every day. Learn from the people who have extensive experience in the field. Take every opportunity to jump on a new project, even if it’s only in a small way. Also, take advantage of the resources within your firm outside of technical people. Learn what the marketing team does so that you can help them help you. Try to learn the basics about IT so you don’t have to rely on someone each and every time something goes wrong. See if you can learn about the business side of the firm (this is where open-book management is important). No matter what your interests are, use the people you work with to make yourself a more well-rounded employee.
Learning and training – this is what employees are telling us they want from their firms. Invest in your employees’ training. Bring people in for lunch-and-learns, pay for employees to go to conferences, start a firm-wide university, anything that shows that you care about your employees and want to help them advance in their careers.
There are so many benefits to improved and enhanced learning beyond the fact that this is what is most important to employees at your firm. It’s an incredible recruitment and retention tool. If you want to set yourselves apart, show how much you care by investing in employees. It will help you land and keep that top talent. Another benefit is it can help identify the next generation of leaders. If there is an employee constantly jumping at training opportunities, and constantly wanting to better themselves, that is a person you should invest in. Clearly, they care enough to want to make themselves better. This in turn will help make your firm better. Find the people that are motivated. Cultivate and enhance that motivation and you will find someone who is in a great position to be one of the next firm leaders.
I have seen this quote on LinkedIn a number of times. A CFO asks a CEO, “What if we train our people and they leave?” The CEO responds, “What if we don’t and they stay?” It will be interesting to see if the data remains the same in this year’s Best Firms To Work For employee surveys or if it will be different. One thing we do know is that we have to train our employees. It’s what’s important to them, it makes your firm better, and it’s one of the top ways to Elevate the Industry.
Kyle Ahern is the awards manager and an advisor at Zweig Group. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.