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November 14, 2023

Our Take on Talent: 1 of 3 Major Challenges for Integrators This Year (Part 3 of 3)

Smiling businesswoman taking interview of a job applicant.

Talent: More than 72% of integrators name talent issues among their top concerns, including attracting and retaining key employees.


In the 2023 State of the Industry report developed by NSCA and Commercial Integrator and based on results from a survey of 150+ integration firm owners/operators, talent was one of the top concerns mentioned throughout the industry—along with inflation and supply chain.

As 2023 draws to a close, it’s a good time to take a look at this final challenge: talent. It’s a challenge that will no doubt carry on into 2024 (and likely far beyond).

Talent issues have long been a big stressor for integrators.

Obstacles range from the lack of a strong candidate pipeline to recruiting qualified candidates and retaining them once they join a team.

To improve the talent situation at your company, we put together a list of important actions you can take with NSCA’s help.

1. Focus on Career Pathing and Lattices, Not Climbing the Corporate Ladder

Traditionally, a typical career path represents a ladder, with clearly defined rungs to climb to take on progressively more responsibility.

But that approach is no longer the only way to prevent career stagnation. We’ve discussed the concept of a “career lattice” vs. a career ladder at the Business & Leadership Conference (BLC) before. It’s a way to create new opportunities for employees who may be bored or unsatisfied in their current roles.

When your environment supports a career lattice, it means you’re willing to move employees into new types of roles—not necessarily higher-level roles—and train them. Have a salesperson who wants to try project management? Give them the tools they need and let them try it.

NSCA Business Accelerator Insperity also reinforces the importance of “career pathing.” With clear career maps in place, your organization may have a recruiting advantage. When you can show candidates their options for vertical and lateral moves over time, as well as cross-training options, they can better picture a long-term career at your organization.

2. Don’t Forget About Tech Schools

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: This industry exists in a bubble.

When you’re inside the bubble, you know all about the great opportunities to be had—and how rewarding those careers can be.

If you’re outside of the bubble, however (as most people are), then you don’t know the industry even exists.

As a result, careers in systems and technology integration are not on the radar of potential candidates who are graduating from high school, completing tech school, or earning their bachelor’s degree.

Instead of going back over and over to the same industry—and same group of people—to find staff, it’s time to branch out and leave the bubble. To create a better pool of candidates, you must go out into the world and educate people about our industry. One way to do this is through Ignite, an NSCA Education Foundation program. It’s designed to connect educators, students, and jobseekers and inform them about, educate them on, and foster possibilities for careers in this industry.

The program is fueled by Ignite Ambassadors—volunteer representatives who spend their time recruiting and educating at job fairs, local high schools, technical schools, community colleges, and other adult education organizations.

You can get involved in Ignite by connecting with today’s jobseekers and local high school and college students through:

  • Attending or sponsoring local job fairs to build connections in your local community with students, educators, and jobseekers.
  • Being a guest speaker to share your inside knowledge of the industry with students at local high schools, technical schools, community colleges, and other adult education organizations.
  • Sponsoring the work of Ignite, which will allow us to reach more students to create a pipeline of future candidates for industry growth.

3. Develop a Strong Internship Program

Internships are a great way to meet and build relationships with potential full-time employees.

Through Ignite, NSCA provides an internship framework for companies to follow if they don’t already have one in place. It includes four phases:

  • Phase 1: Onboarding to give interns an understanding of your business.
  • Phase 2: Ride & Decide to give interns in-depth exposure to different departments and career paths.
  • Phase 3: Learn & Earn to give interns relevant experience and credentials in sales, operations, marketing, and/or project management.
  • Phase 4: Real-World Application to give interns dedicated time to spend on projects in their chosen area.

We also connect integrators with an online software platform that helps structure the program and guides interns through their experience.

To help integrators offset the costs of internships, NSCA’s Ignite Internship Grant offers $1,000 toward the reimbursement of costs associated with hiring an intern.

4. Focus on Your Company Culture

As the labor market suffers from volatility, it’s time for companies to make sure their company culture breeds success and support.

Does leadership have the backs of employees—and vice versa? Are you clear about what makes your company unique?

Think about two or three recurring problems that have been ongoing sources of frustration for employees. If you can spot these recurring problems, then so can everyone else in the company. Life will be better once you figure out how to resolve these situations.

A strong culture starts with:

  • A set of aligned and communicated values, ethics, and behaviors
  • Visible examples of values, ethics, and behaviors in action at all levels
  • Visible acknowledgement of people who align their actions with these values, ethics, and behaviors
  • Intolerance/admonishment of people who do not align their actions with these values, ethics, and behaviors

NSCA is here to guide you through whatever challenges you face, from talent attraction and retention to inflation and supply chain snarls.

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