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Bespoke Careers

18 May 2021

18 May 2021

4 key areas A&D firms need to focus on in 2021 to attract & retain talent

Despite the challenges created by the pandemic, attracting and retaining good staff remains a key priority for architecture and design firms all over the world as they compete for the best talent in the market. But in order to become an employer of choice, you first need to understand what matters most to those working in the sector.  

Our latest Job Satisfaction Survey has highlighted some interesting feedback and raised a number of issues and concerns from A&D professionals around the world.

With many A&D professionals (48%) not feeling valued in their current roles and about half (49%) planning to move jobs in the next 12-18 months, employers need to take note and start addressing these key issues for their staff.  

We take a look at 4 key areas employers need to focus on in the year ahead (and beyond) in order to attract and retain the best in the industry. 

1. Performance reviews & clear career pathways

Let’s be frank - career progression is a big issue for firms to address if they want to keep or attract good staff. 

In our survey, only 35% of respondents are satisfied with their current career progression prospects and it’s also the top reason why people are looking to move jobs, with the majority (34%) citing it as their main reason. Career progression prospects are also a big factor when looking for a new job, with 50% of respondents placing it in their top 3 considerations. 

So it’s vital that A&D firms ensure they have clear career pathways in place and conduct regular performance reviews for their staff. Implementing or reviewing your current performance review framework is a good way to ensure staff are feeling heard, are provided with regular feedback, and can drive their career progress in a way that is supported and enabled by the employer. 

Undertaking talent mapping and succession planning and then actively involving the “talent” in planning for their progression will help keep star performers engaged and focused on how they can contribute to their employer’s success in the future.

2. Regularly review and benchmark salaries

Salary is the second biggest reason for people wanting to move jobs, and is top in the 3 most important factors when choosing a new role, with 55% of professionals stating it a priority for them.  This is also significant, because 51% of global respondents are currently dissatisfied or very dissatisfied with their overall remuneration package and only 30% have an annual bonus included in their overall remuneration package.  

Employers should be regularly reviewing and benchmarking salaries against the market. Bonus or incentive schemes – including company-wide bonus schemes – can be a great option where salaries are already at market. You can tie achievements to individual, team or company objectives to clearly demonstrate how the individual’s success is linked to that of the company.  

3. Supporting workers’ health and wellbeing

Mental health and wellbeing is more important than ever - employers need to think seriously about healthy working hours and supporting their staff in meaningful ways if they are to retain and attract talent. Shockingly, only 28% of global respondents feel that their employer is taking care of their mental wellbeing, so there is lots to be done here.

The pandemic has had a seismic impact on workers. A huge 60% of UK and 57% of US respondents feel the pandemic has had a detrimental impact on their health and wellbeing, compared to only 30% in Australia. And yet across the board, the majority of respondents (51%) do not feel that their employers have supported them during this time. 

There are a variety of ways in which employers can better support their staff moving forwards, with common things mentioned including: continued focus on flexible working, working from home, and supporting mental health initiatives, resourcing projects properly to reduce overtime and greater appreciation of true work/life balance being achieved. 

Providing a confidential EAP (Employee Assistance Program) is also beneficial for ensuring employees can easily access counselling, advice and support, whether about work or personal matters.

Whatever support mechanisms are put in place, employers need to ensure that they are fully backed and promoted from the top down, and not just a box ticking exercise. 

4. Communication is key

Communication, or lack of it, is often one of the biggest frustrations for employees.  When asked what one thing could your employer do to make your job more satisfying, improved communication from management is one of the most common responses. 

From what’s going on in the business in terms of strategy and financials, benefits available to staff, when performance reviews will happen, what wellbeing and health support is available and career progression pathways people are on, all of these are worth nothing if none of your employees know about them. 

Conducting regular “pulse” or annual employee engagement surveys is a good way to seek feedback from employees about employer initiatives, the work environment, and what support they need. The key here is acting on the results, and communicating that action clearly, so that employees see value in providing their feedback and know that their input is being taken seriously. 

So start communication with your employees clearly and regularly. Bring them on the journey so they feel invested in the business for their future career. Invest in your employer brand and a clear internal communications strategy and your employees and business will benefit. 

Would you like to see the full results from the survey? You can read about the key findings from the report here, or alternatively download the full report here.

Not sure if your remuneration packages are up to scratch?  Check out our 2021 Salary Guide so you can benchmark your team and ensure the pay and benefits you offer are competitive (or better). 

Finally, if you’d like support with your current hiring needs or just want to chat to one of the team about any of the issues raised in this blog, we’d love to hear from you. 

Author: Molly McCloy, Marketing Coordinator, Bespoke Careers

Salary Guide

Our annual Salary Survey reveals who's making what in our sector. Take a look at this year's results to see how you compare to the market.

Read more

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Understand what matters most to those working in the A&D sector.

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