Company leaders at security integration companies gave us their best advice for hiring and retaining talent.
The systems integration industry is practically begging for more skilled labor — that’s nothing new. But due to the Great Resignation, a higher bar of required aptitude and attitude within the industry, the rise of more technology-centric fields creating fiercer competition for talent, and the ongoing low profile tech integration has as a career path to young people and the general public — the situation has reached epic proportions.
Many integrator company owners I speak with are just about at the end of their rope, all but throwing their hands up struggling for relief. It’s seriously impacting some bottom lines as operators are having to delay or turn away jobs due to too few hands on deck, which can lead to dissatisfied customers that blemish heretofore sterling reputations.
Overburdened employees are then more apt to jump ship, either of their own accords for what they hope is greener grass or they are seduced by rampant poaching within the channel. Besides putting in long hours, many firms are outsourcing what they can, running cable for example, or bringing in temporary workers.
At this point, company leaders are feeling like “The Magnificent Seven,” where they have to overcome impossible odds and train a village to fend off outlaws — only even unskilled villagers are scarce.
Until that dark cloud lifts, CE Pro is here to do all we can to ease the pain with timely news, business insights, and technology updates. Part of that is the Total Tech Summit event, which includes tracks for security, commercial A/V, and residential A/V.
At last November’s TTS, I led a best practices roundtable session on this column’s topic, titled “Getting the Best People on the Bus to Build Your Business,” in which attendees were challenged to generate ideas to ease this predicament. Some takeaways:
- Encourage employee referrals
- Offer referral bonuses to employees if a recruit pans out
- Set up an internship program
- Reach out to and prospect high schools and trade schools
- Look outside the industry for promising people
- Work social media and community events
- Leverage employee relationships, family and friends
- Focus on creating an internal culture that attracts jobseekers
- Promote quality of life and work/life balance as part of your compensation package
- Build your company reputation on social media
- Fine tune the interview experience undergone by prospects
- Be more creative in pursued recruiting sources and practices
- Back and sponsor employees’ professional development
- Offer personnel clear and engaging career paths
- Conduct “stay interviews,” asking, “What would lead you to stay here?”
- Organize night out events to build team morale
- Empower employees with more independence and responsibility
- Encourage organizing charitable activities or fun learning opportunities
- Establish recognition programs, e.g. successfully completing a project or “caught” awards for doing good
- Facilitate a feedback loop with safe/open/welcome input and ideas, with manager presentations based on that
- Institute performance incentive programs (bonuses and rewards)
- Organize family programs to get everyone involved
- Emphasize recognition in written, verbal, awards, perks and monetary forms
- Regularly promote from within
- Hold quarterly “pulse” meetings to gauge morale
- Give out awards based on peer reviews
- Focus on interpersonal relationships and feeling valued/important
- Offer better healthcare insurance
- Offer more paid time off
- Rollover PTO to the next year(s)
- Include more paid holidays off
- Post progression charts to challenge and engage
- Provide customer care training, both for internal and external interactions
- Fine tune the onboarding process: create a culture and expectations, and help workers feel comfortable within that
- Run roleplaying scenarios to polish skills and promote fun/engagement
- Crosstrain among departments: Help workers understand the cause and effect of other positions and appreciate others’ contributions to the company
- People will do what you inspect, not expect: Put rewards and recognition in place with a proper feedback loop from customers
That’s just an example of the collective brainstorming and value TTS guests are able to bring back to their businesses. They are called “guests” because it is a hosted event (complimentary admittance, travel, lodging and food/beverage) in which those dealers/integrators applied and met stated qualifications to attend. TTS gathers representatives from a few hundred of the industry’s most professional and success-minded companies.