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Megan Miller
Megan Miller
Megan Miller is a senior product marketing specialist for Herndon-based Deltek, the leading global provider of enterprise software and information solutions for professional services firms and government contractors, and can be found at

How Your A&E Firm Can Win the War for Talent

June 2nd, 2016 by Megan Miller

In A&E, your people are not only your greatest asset, but also your competitive advantage in the marketplace. But, does your firm have what it takes to attract and retain the best and brightest in the industry?

The annual Deltek Clarity A&E Industry report can help. Clarity is an informative snapshot of today’s A&E landscape, with more than 250 participating firms of every shape and size throughout the United States and Canada.

This year, the 37th Deltek Clarity A&E Industry report features a focus on talent management and highlights several challenges faced by A&E firms. One red flag? Employee turnover continues to increase at firms of all types and sizes, with this year’s rate at 13.3%.

Employee turnover isn’t the only difficulty A&E firms are facing when it comes to managing talent. Other challenges – including the availability of good candidates, performance management and succession planning/career development – also topped the list.

Below are four steps to address some of these challenges as revealed in Clarity.

1) Invest In Your Talent Acquisition Process

Nearly 70% of respondents selected talent acquisition as one of the top three most expensive business processes. Building on that, firms identified availability of viable candidates as the biggest struggle in talent acquisition.

This is one area of the A&E business that remains highly manual. If firms do leverage technology, it is often outdated software not integrated with other critical business systems. In fact, according to Clarity respondents, 66% of firms haven’t updated their Human Resources information systems in at least four years.

Highly manual or disjointed processes lead to costly inefficiencies and wasted time. Firms should take some time to evaluate their talent acquisition processes and systems to identify bottlenecks, inefficiencies, gaps and challenges. Once you know your biggest obstacles, you can streamline the process to ensure that your firm is finding and securing the right talent.

2) Focus On Increasing Employee Engagement

Employee engagement is the emotional and functional commitment that an employee has to your firm. More engagement means more loyalty, and, in general, more effective work.

Employees are more engaged and loyal when they feel they are valued, believe their work matters, and perceive that they have supportive supervisors. With an average turnover rate of 13.3%, employees are looking for the right firm to match their needs.

So, how do you get these employees engaged? People stay with a company when they feel challenged, engaged and have ample opportunity for development. Employers need to leverage internal expertise to coach and mentor employees, provide educational opportunities and chances for employees to get engaged at various levels within the firm.

3) Change How You Think About Performance Management

According to the Clarity report, performance management is another area that presents a challenge and tends to be one of the most costly business processes to support and one of the biggest challenges managing talent.

When firms lack a solid performance management and goal-setting process, employees don’t feel they are recognized for accomplishments or offered meaningful ways to grow. As a result, your best talent may walk out the door.

Switching to a performance management process built around regular check-in conversations can help solve this problem. Start with a consistent, company-wide approach to performance management, supported by a continuous feedback and goal-tracking process between managers and employees. This will help top performers get the visibility and recognition they desire, leading to increased loyalty and reduced turnover.

4) Look To The Future: Succession Planning & Career Development

Winning the war for talent also means being a workplace where employees can see a future for themselves. Succession planning and career development are a vital part of attracting and retaining your employees, yet for an overwhelming number of firms there seems to be a lack of focus on the future.

In fact, according to the Clarity report, 68% of firms have no formal succession plan or their plan only applies to a select few, leaving employees to wonder about their future career path.

Succession planning can help you easily identify and develop top talent within your organization before the need becomes critical. Groom your existing talent to move up into key positions and build development plans designed to fill gaps and promote employee growth. Executed together, these steps can ensure that your firm’s turnover rate is below the industry average.

For more info on the A&E industry and winning the talent war, including webinars on benchmarking your firm’s performance, check out the 37th Deltek Clarity A&E Industry report.

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