All I remember about the first day of my first real job out of college is being scared about screwing up, terrified I had broken the camera card reader and totally confused about the phone system. It was a Saturday morning, and I was the only reporter on shift. Orientation the day before had included a quick intro around the office and being shown how to turn the alarm on and off. Then, I was told to arrive at 9 a.m. the next day and get to work.
What I didn’t know far outweighed what I learned in school. Sure, I knew how to ask questions, write articles and take photos, but I didn’t know how to do my job within the functional restrictions of the new office space. Actual performance expectations were unknown. Specific reporting structure, a new computer, a different filing structure and unexplained equipment — these were confusing. My schedule meant I was only in the office with my colleagues three days a week. I wasn’t given an explanation of the office structure, performance expectations or reasonable guidelines for producing work. Heck, in six months the only feedback I got was from an angry reader who didn’t like my movie review of a boxing film. At age 19, working 14 hour days, I burned out in 6 months.
It’s not particularly reassuring, but I’m basically a statistic. Like many others entering a competitive workforce in a challenging area of work, like that done by AEC firms, the odds weren’t in my favour. They weren’t in favour of my employer either.
Do you want your AEC firm to draw in the best new hires and graduates and keep them over the long term? A solid training program and a well communicated brand identity aren’t optional.
A report called Help New Hires Succeed: Beat the Statistics, by Caela Farren, shares startling statistics about what really makes an employee stick and the washout rate on new hires—and how to keep them instead. New employees decide whether they feel at home in the first three weeks in a company; some leave after the first day and almost half of rookies, according to a study in the report, wash out in the first 18 months.
What this suggests is companies are going to fail to retain the best and brightest talent, especially if that talent falls into the Millennial age bracket (born between 1982 and 2004). This is expensive for businesses, who are faced with new hiring and training costs on very short cycles. Even if you can hire Millennials in the first place what you need to do with them once you’ve got them?
Repeatedly, we hear from our clients that employee hiring and retention is the number one issue AEC firms are facing. This need is driving clients to update websites, engage in social media and create all those amazing perks we hear about in the news. Yoga classes, office snacks, and team building events are great — but they are not the whole solution for Millennials.
With perks, you might be able to get new hires in the door, but keeping them is where your corporate identity and internal brand positioning becomes crucial. The evidence suggests it’s in the details: forms management, tasks management, and socialization in the company corporate culture. It’s making sure new employees understand their job, responsibility, company, and opportunities. And it requires a conscientious, deliberate approach, not just by a human resources professional but from everything and everyone in the organization.
How can you keep talented Millennials on your team?
One of the most important things you do is ensure your brand identity is lived in the culture. Are you implementing the initiatives above?