What gives AEC firms an edge in the war for talent?

The true keys to attracting and retaining your people

In today's ultra-competitive architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) industry, securing and retaining top-tier talent is what separates the most successful firms from the rest. However, some firms are pulling ahead.  

What gives them that edge? Becoming a tech-forward organization. Insights from Unanet's 2022-2023 AEC Inspire Report further underscore this point, providing valuable research and guidance based on the experiences of leading AEC executives. 

Being tech-forward is more than just a buzzword. For AEC firms, it directly impacts the ability to attract and retain high-caliber talent in several key ways. 

Compensation and salary increases 

When compared to their tech-static counterparts, more tech-forward firms offer clear and well-defined salary and bonus plans, providing transparency that is highly valued by employees. This not only facilitates the hiring of high-quality personnel but also boosts retention. In fact, according to the AEC Inspire Report, 62% of tech-forward firms reported an average salary increase of at least 3%, compared to only 47% of non-tech-forward firms. This difference in compensation can be a significant factor for employees when considering where to work. 

Additionally, with technological advancements, AEC firms have access to tools and systems that enable them to take on more complex projects, resulting in faster career progression for their employees.  

Improved collaboration and productivity 

The use of digital collaboration and communication tools has catapulted workforce productivity and collaboration to new heights in tech-forward firms, particularly in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.  

This has allowed employees to work remotely without sacrificing productivity or the ability to collaborate effectively with team members. As a result, tech-forward firms are able to attract top talent from all over the world, providing more diverse and skilled teams. 

Enhanced employee experience 

Tech-forward organizations have also invested in technology solutions that cater to the employee experience, such as state-of-the-art project delivery tools (think BIM, VR, etc.) and mobile applications for timekeeping and project management, providing a seamless and modern user experience. This not only streamlines processes for employees but also shows that the company values their time and efforts. In contrast, non-tech-forward firms may struggle to keep up with outdated systems and processes, leading to frustration among employees. 

Moreover, tech-forward firms are utilizing technology solutions to enhance training and development opportunities for their employees. This includes access to online courses, virtual training sessions, and immersive learning experiences. This not only helps employees stay up to date with industry trends and advancements but also shows a commitment to their growth and success. 

Effective recruitment and staffing 

Tech-forward firms are demonstrating resilience in maintaining optimal staffing levels, even with the pandemic-related challenges in recruitment. By effectively utilizing data and HR planning, these companies are making better-informed decisions with positive hiring and retention outcomes.  

Additionally, they are leveraging technology to streamline recruitment processes and attract top talent with more efficient job postings and application tracking systems. This not only saves time and resources but also creates a positive impression among potential candidates. 

It’s evident that talent acquisition and retention remain a significant challenge for AEC firms, particularly amid the turbulence of significant employee movement and attrition. The data further highlights the impact of the pandemic on recruitment and staffing, with 39% of firms reporting some setbacks in this area. 

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However, amidst these challenges, tech-forward firms have demonstrated resilience, with 50% reporting improvements in recruitment and staffing compared to 46% of tech-static firms facing declines. 

Being tech-forward helps AEC firms attract and retain talent 

AEC firms can gain a significant edge in the competitive race for talent by embracing technology and evolving into tech-forward organizations. By focusing on compensation, implementing digital collaboration tools, and leveraging data for informed decision-making, these firms can optimize their workforce strategies and come out winners.  

For more on what top AEC executives are thinking, download a free copy of the AEC Inspire Report today. The next part in our series will cover how top AEC firms manage their projects and resources – and what you can be doing to improve your approach.