It’s hard to find and retain talent. Anyone who manages a business, or owns one could attest. The job we do is hard. Environmental Consulting is often hot, wet, loud, dry, dusty, cold, windy and dirty. Other times you’re grinding out reports in an office, using every bit of your knowledge but it’s silent and, as office work can be, boring.
How do you retain talent to work under these conditions?
A good start is that our staff, like yours probably went to school and spent a lot of money on a fancy-pants education to be doing exactly what they are doing. That fact creates a filter for people who apply for these jobs to ostensibly know what they are getting into. But let’s face it, until you do the job, even if you dropped $100k for college, you really don’t know what you are getting into. You also don’t know how long you are into it for. Five years can seem like a lifetime when you’re 23 years old. I imagine when the hours are long and our staff is driving home from a project with their ears ringing and grit in every crevice of their bodies, thoughts of what they’ve gotten themselves into might creep into their minds.
But we need these people to be Johnny-On-The-Spot in the wee hours of the morning ‘till after the sun sets. We spend money on training and dedicate unbillable hours to support their careers.
One way to compensate our staff is to, well, compensate our staff. We pay enough money to compete with the compensation of other companies to retain our people. Treating them like professionals with trust and respect while paying them adequately gets you pretty far but it doesn’t get you all the way.
When the hours are long and your staff is wondering if they are even in the right industry you need something more to drive their souls and keep them on staff. Beach combing and coffee barista might not pay as well but they do have their perks.
Let’s talk about souls.
We are lucky enough to be working in the environmental industry where we occasionally get to feel good about helping the environment. I say occasionally because most of what we do is actually helping developers build something, which is kinda the opposite of “saving the environment”. However, people have to live in people habitat. If you build people habitat in people places then you’re not destroying natural habitat in natural places. If you remember that, you can feel good in your soul. If you missed my point I’ll spell it out. What we can’t compensate in money, we work hard to compensate in karma. It’s important that your staff feel good about themselves in this world and they are making this place better than they found it. As a marketer, you need to market internally to tell the story of how you are helping them enter the pearly gates every day they punch in at the time-clock.
What about fun?
If you count the hours you spend at work, it’s often more time than you spend with your family. You can’t pay people enough to work in a place where working is a soul-sucking drudgery. You should try to help them to have fun. It’s the job of marketing to create an atmosphere inside your company where people can be comfortable, where they can let the weird out, because we are all weird in our own way (some of us are weird in every way). We need to laugh. We need to have fun. My wife likes to say, if you’re not having fun, you’re just workin’. How true.
Part of our communication internally is also focused externally to present an atmosphere where young talent who will initially be be paid entry level wages will choose us over bigger, stodgier, companies because we are serious about our vibe and they feel comfortable in the atmosphere we strive to maintain.
This video is a sample of how A3 Environmental Consultants rolls. It’s a little video we shot for our Intern, Andreas Kougias when he went back to school. The video is obviously comedy but it’s serious too. Serious in that Andreas did a great job and we were sad to see him go, and serious in that we weren’t acting; We really are this funny, and weird, and comfortable here at work.