Recruiting is a top priority, but workforce development also includes taking a close look at company culture to make sure it fosters loyalty and breeds performers.
There’s no question that workforce development is a top priority for many integrators. Two of NSCA’s association priorities this year focus on workforce development: creating ideal workplaces and redefining talent recruitment.
Are you creating an ideal workplace that fosters retention and a high-performing culture? NSCA members are the cream of the crop, but even top integrators need to make sure they’re doing what they can to support their talent.
NSCA CEO Chuck Wilson and I have been spending lots of time talking about workforce development recently—not only with our members, but at other industry events and conferences as well. Here are some points we’ve been sharing …
Is Your Company the Place to Be?
You want to create a work environment that’s known as “the place to be.” That’s the attitude that great companies are founded on—built on the backbone of the notion that, if you do your stuff right, then you’ll attract the best of the best.
Along those lines, great integration companies need to weed out the C-teamers. Build a reputation for not tolerating unacceptable behavior or work ethic. If you build a reputation for building up A-teamers, then you’ll attract more A-teamers. It’s a difficult goal—but a worthwhile one.
Is There a Mutually Beneficial Relationship?
Think about the relationship between company leadership and employees. Does it demonstrate mutual support? Is it mutually beneficial? Do employees feel like they’re rewarded with great career opportunities if they work hard, follow the processes, and deliver great work? Do company leaders feel like the team has their back when representing the company—not just in the work they do but in their outward communication?
Does Everybody Know What Your Company Stands For?
What’s your company’s unique story? What makes your company unique? Sometimes the leadership doesn’t even know the answers!
Do You Only Offer a Vertical Corporate Ladder?
You might remember when, at the 2017 Business & Leadership Conference, Cathy Benko of Deloitte introduced us to the “corporate lattice” concept. A corporate lattice is about options that allow top performers to find their comfort zone, giving them tools to be nimble and successful in their careers.
It’s also about weeding out C-level performers. Built into the concept are guidelines on recognizing when someone doesn’t fit within your organizational model.
The corporate lattice in an integration company allows people to back out of their current roles and start a new and different role. A top performer might quit their job—but they don’t quit the company.
This is a great fit for any generation—but particularly for today’s younger generation. Top employees don’t want a path of least resistance; they want to go through the levels and show that they’re ready to advance. They want to prove themselves. These accomplishments are empowering.
This isn’t about someone getting sick of project management and deciding to try business development: It’s about providing a path for that person to receive training and preparation to succeed at business development. If we just slide them over and say, “Good luck!” then they may fail.
Remember to train people properly for the jobs they want—and be open to letting people move laterally while providing them the training to do so.
Does Your Culture Support DEI?
Hopefully, your company culture already supports diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). Many companies inside and outside this industry can do much more to make sure their company culture optimizes everyone’s potential.
NSCA’s DEI Action Council is focused on encouraging NSCA members to rethink how they reflect DEI in their company cultures.
NSCA also added livingHR as a new Member Advisory Councilmember to provide oversight of DEI practices and a system of checks and balances. Their team can step in and play a consultative role to help you make a big impact.
Hold Yourself Accountable
NSCA encourages you to challenge yourself on creating the “ideal workplace” concepts discussed here. We all know that project profitability is more challenging these days thanks to things like escalating labor costs (and the supply chain, of course). We’re seeing integrators desperate for talent poaching other firms’ key employees. It’s tough to say no to things like higher pay, higher-level roles, and signing bonuses.
That leaves other companies scrambling to find new talent or pay higher rates to keep their top employees. Sometimes they even have to pay “stay bonuses” to match another company’s proposed signing bonus. This all results in high labor costs that jeopardize profitability.
For companies boasting an ideal workplace that fosters loyalty, retention, and a culture of high-performance, however, all of this becomes less of a problem.
Tom LeBlanc is the executive director at NSCA.