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Find Your Breakthrough: How To Increase AEC Employee Retention

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Manage FF&E specification, procurement, and product data at scale. Take on bigger projects with confidence and grow your firm with  FohlioSchedule a demo or book a consultation with one of our account managers to explore these features today.

April of 2021 set the record for the number of workers who quit within a single month period. 

The AEC industry is no exception. 

The pandemic brought with it an economic downturn that caused employment to take a big hit. Over a million people in the AEC industry lost their jobs. This caused turmoil for projects, which experienced either discontinuity or delay. 

The difficulty from the leftover projects left the remaining AEC workforce in shambles, the lack of flexibility, satisfaction, and monetary rewards further increased the number of workers that left their jobs by the end of the year.

So now the question left to be answered is: Why?

Why did all of those AEC professionals leave, and what can we do to make this kind of thing never happen again? Let’s unravel this. 

According to research done by the Hinge Research Institute, around 26% of AEC professionals who were actively looking for a job stated that the reason they felt dissatisfied was that their existing employer was unable to adapt to the COVID-19 interruptions.

Find Your Breakthrough: How To Increase AEC Employee Retention | Data Management | The Great Resignation | AEC Great Resignation |

Conclusion: A good fraction that makes up for the lack of adaptation is because a majority of AEC firms still function and depend on manually operated processes. That means specification writing, procurement, and bidding are done on spreadsheets and are managed and negotiated over face-to-face meetings.

Talk about outdated.

Find Your Breakthrough: How To Increase AEC Employee Retention | Data Management | The Great Resignation | AEC Great Resignation |

AEC processes have become very much hard to manage and track, resulting in a lot of fatigue and burnout. It also creates a domino effect where it becomes difficult to take over an ongoing project once a person leaves their post because everything is solely understood only by the designated person. In effect, this makes onboarding difficult for the next person. All these bits of inconveniences mentioned when piled up can be the cause of the giant delays that the design and construction projects are experiencing. 

That said, we think you’d agree that it wouldn’t be the wisest decision to do everything with mere brainpower and spreadsheets. That’s what gave rise to the tech industry. We now recognize that there is real room for improvement in the way firms could be doing things that could be solved by technology. These are the same solutions that can also answer the problems that made AEC professionals leave in the first place. 

To each, their own. 

While each person does things differently, we wanted to make it simple- so we’ve broken down a couple of solutions you can consider that could probably make a whole difference to how your firm can adapt to these challenging times. Take a look:

1. Cloud-based data could replace physical file inventories.

  • Practical applications: Less time spent on picking data apart from old projects that you can use for your new projects. Let’s face it, this takes a couple of hours or even days to manually do, and it’s not like if you try to do it at a faster pace, you’d end up with better results. There’s still a large possibility of error, especially during data transfers. Let’s not forget that it also takes hours to check whether you got all your specifications right, and that majority of your files might not always be with you, but might be on your desktop in the office. That’s what makes the cloud is such a revolutionary tool. It takes off all the travel time and rework to create the hundreds of datasheets. 
Find Your Breakthrough: How To Increase AEC Employee Retention | Data Management | The Great Resignation | AEC Great Resignation | Data Management | Specification Writing
Reduce duplicate work with Fohlios cloud-based data management features. 
  • Emotional Factor: Fewer burnouts and higher output. Making an already difficult task more difficult than it needs to be can cause a lot of physical and mental burnouts. Eliminate waste in your projects with a cloud-based data tool.

Read: FF&E Specification in Excel is Killing Design Firms — Even the Big Ones

2. External collaboration tools can minimize the need for face-to-face meetings.

  • Practical applications: Save time from hours-long face-to-face meetings. Have you ever been in a hair-pulling situation where you try to book a meeting with a busy consultant only to get ghosted? Ouch. Not only is this frustrating, but it can also add up to the delays. 
Find Your Breakthrough: How To Increase AEC Employee Retention | Data Management | The Great Resignation | AEC Great Resignation | Data Management | Collaboration Tools
Save on production hours. Have external collaborators like consultants leave notes, approvals, and comments on your sheets. 
  • Emotional Factor: Less frustration and less wait time mean your team can put more focus on their work feel the satisfaction of being able to submit on time without having to highly rely on third-party consultants.

Read: How to Have More Control and Flexibility Over External Collaborations: Vendors, Clients, Etc. *Feature Deep-Dive*

3. Internal collaboration tools can help you practice accountability.

  • Practical Applications: There is a multitude of benefits to having this type of tool so we’ll break it down for you.
    1. Assign different designers and architects on different projects. 
    2. Assign each member to a particular area of the project 
    3. Have different members access only the parts that they need to see. 
    4. The historical log can give you a glimpse into how data is being edited and by who is doing the editing. 
Find Your Breakthrough: How To Increase AEC Employee Retention | Data Management | The Great Resignation | AEC Great Resignation | Data Management | Collaboration Tools
Define the goals for each member of your team. With the ‘Roles and Access’ feature, you can filter data for your team so they know what they should be working on. This also helps with accidental edits and allows you to do specified tracking. 
  • Emotional Factor: This gives your team a clearer definition of their goals, having this will also allow you to practice recognition by tracking their performance and rewarding high-performers for a job well done. Immediate satisfaction.

Read: How to Edge Out The Competition: Learn From These 5 FF&E Design and Procurement Firms

4. An asset library at the palm of your hands will eliminate redundant work. 

  • Practical Applications: It’s not like you can walk around with a giant booklet that contains all your material references all the time. What if we told you that you could create Jobsite packets using information that you already have from your digital library? Doesn’t that sound so much easier?
Find Your Breakthrough: How To Increase AEC Employee Retention | Data Management | The Great Resignation | AEC Great Resignation | Data Management | Jobsite packet
You can include all the PDF files you have added on Fohlio, such as spec sheets and installation manuals. Or, you can individually select the documents that you’d like to export. Just save changes and export away!

It doesn’t stop there. The jobsite packets are only a bonus. There are endless benefits to having a digital materials library: 

  1. Quickly find old details using the searchable database
  2. Re-specify materials without risk for error
  3. Build on top of old data. No need to start from scratch every time. 
  4. Less backaches from carrying large material booklets in your bag.
Find Your Breakthrough: How To Increase AEC Employee Retention | Data Management | The Great Resignation | AEC Great Resignation | Data Management | Specification Writing
Save hours of work by re-specifying without the risk of error or duplication.
  • Emotional Factor: Speed of work means finishing earlier. This means that they don’t have to be stressed and on alert 24/7. A greater work-life balance will give your team more time for personal development keeping them happier.

Read: How to Take Your Firm to The Next Level With a Digital Materials Library: 9 Ways

Hopefully, these tips can help you and your firm get back on your feet. Remember: To win in the marketplace you must first win in the workplace. 

Manage FF&E specification, procurement, and product data at scale. Take on bigger projects with confidence and grow your firm with  FohlioSchedule a demo or book a consultation with one of our account managers to explore these features today.

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Published Mar 2, 2022