How to Improve Recruitment and Retention

How to Improve Recruitment and Retention

Is your Architectural, Engineering, Planning, or Environmental Consulting firm ready for 2018? With national unemployment rates around 4.1% as of this writing, talent will be hard to find, and the pressure to raise wages will be intense. If you’re concerned about your design firm’s recruitment and retention processes there are some things that you can do:


  1. Define the Current Condition. To understand how hiring and retention is currently working within the firm, “walk the shop floor” as follows:

Interview your firm’s leadership to gather their insights and opinions regarding recruiting and retention strategies and tactics— questions will focus on how things work now and what changes, if any, they would make if they could.

Facilitate interviews with some of the company’s most recent hires (made within the last year or so) to gather their thoughts and opinions on the firm’s hiring, onboarding, and integration processes.

Conduct an online survey of the staff to collect feedback on how well any specific retention efforts have been received and gauge morale.

  1. Define the Target Condition. In this second step, establish expectations for how the firm’s hiring and retention strategies should work and the results they should produce.
  2. Determine Causality. In this third step, we will conduct a root-cause analysis, essentially addressing the question, “Why do we have what we have, and not what we want?”

After this phase, put together a report of the information we gathered. Then, use this report as a platform for Phase 2 (see below).


  1. Establish Countermeasures. Create countermeasures to directly address the problems (root causes) creating the current situation. Please note that I’m using the word “countermeasure” to recognize that the process won’t necessarily hit on the “solution” the first time. The future is unknowable, so the goal is to conduct small experiments (countermeasures) and learn your way toward your goals.
  2. Establish Action Plans. To implement these countermeasures, identify specific actions along with individuals responsible for carrying them out. Create timelines for each action, including strategies and action items to address the anticipated ramp-up of personnel.
  3. Create Follow-up Plan. Decide who will measure what, by when, to determine whether the countermeasures put in place are producing the desired results. And if not, why not?

Demand for top design industry talent in 2018 is likely to remain high. Firms that align recruitment and retention into their strategic planning are likely to perform better than firms who don’t. It’s simply too expensive not to budget and invest in recruitment and retention in this current economic climate.




About the Author

John Kreiss
John is an experienced Executive Search Consultant specializing in the recruitment of AE industry talent. For over 15 years he has advised and assisted architecture, engineering, planning, landscape architecture, and environmental firms in filling key positions and making strategic hires.

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