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The secret to retaining your best engineers

By Mitchell Cook | Senior Consultant – Engineering, Construction & Technical Operations

Demand for engineers is increasing as local infrastructure projects take shape. The talent demand in the market makes it hard for companies to retain top engineers. As a recruitment consultant in the industry I speak to lots of engineers about job satisfaction and what makes them happy. Here’s some common themes for managers who want to hold onto their best people.

Provide opportunities for growth and development

Your top engineers are often your most motivated, so it’s critical to give them opportunities to develop. Allow them to work across different areas of the business and on diverse projects so they can gain new skills. This may mean you need to change or modify their roles or give them more responsibility.

Encourage education and provide financial assistance

Offering training programs is a win-win for companies and their engineers. The engineering sector is constantly changing. To stay ahead of competition you need highly trained, knowledgeable people. To be successful your company needs to understand the latest tech developments and changes to industry regulations. For your staff, continued learning will increase motivation and job satisfaction.  Hence, encouraging your employees to upskill is a no brainer. Research shows that companies who offer financial assistance for education will reduce staff turnover and increase productivity.

Review salary regularly

Pay is of course a big part of why people look for new opportunities. In this competitive market salaries need to be reviewed regularly. Have open and honest conversation with your staff about pay expectations to avoid losing them to other firms. This is not only a sign of respect, but it will encourage people to stay motivated and focused on your project. It costs a lot less to pay your staff well than it does to fund a revolving door.

Offer flexible work arrangements, tailored to the individual

Organisations that offer flexible work options are more likely to retain good people. But you need to go one step further and adapt your workplace to meet individual needs. This might be through offering family friendly hours, a short work day or opportunities to work from home. If you’ve hired good people then you should be able to trust them. By offering this flexibility you will not only keep staff, you’ll find their job productivity and satisfaction improves too.

Make staff feel appreciated and valued

From the conversations I’ve had, not feeling respected and valued was one of the most common reasons engineers are leaving their job. Not surprisingly, it’s the direct relationship between an engineer and their manager that is the most important with regards to this.

My advice here is simple to say but harder to achieve. You need to find out what makes each of your employees feel valued. For some this may be remuneration, for others it might be growth and development or celebrating achievements. For most it will be a combination of a few things. If you can get to the core of what makes them feel appreciated and respected you will be far more likely to keep your engineers happy.

Focus on developing a supportive team environment

Another reason engineers are looking to leave their job is because they want a more positive and supportive team environment. There’s a tendency in this industry for people, teams and organisations to try to outdo each other. For some this competitive spirit is great, but others I speak with want a more supportive workplace. Encourage your staff to help each other, learn together and celebrate team success. Try to provide opportunities for them to get to know each other as this will lead to stronger personal relationships. You can also look at ways to share knowledge and resources across your team so they feel more supported.

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