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Workplace Trends for the Professional Services Industry for 2022

Posted by Tasia Grant, PHR on February 02, 2022

It may be a new year, but 2022 comes with a similar vibe as 2021 still dealing with the impact of a pandemic and the shifting workplace as a result. Change begets change, and successful professional services firms have had to go with the times in order to stay competitive with others in their industry. With this in mind, let’s take a look at some of the workplace trends for professional services firms in 2022.

Photo of employees

 

Work Culture

The pandemic has most professional services firms evaluating their work culture and figuring out how to adjust their practices and policies to accommodate the necessary changes but not compromise the foundation of its culture. As leaders, it’s important to have a clear understanding of what the company culture is and how this culture is perceived by employees. To attract and retain the best employees, the workplace culture needs to be attractive itself. In other words, it should be a win/win for all.

Hybrid and Remote Workplace

It is a fact that technology will be a constant part of the workplace culture going forward with online portals and systems in the cloud. Working remotely, which became a necessity during the pandemic, has become a trend that is likely to continue even when the pandemic is over. The hybrid work environment where time is split between home and office has become a shift in the workplace of today which HR will have to continue to manage.

Autonomy

Flexibility has become one of the most desired attributes of any company considered a “Great Place to Work”. It is not exclusive to the option of working remotely or in the office, but it extends to the workday structure. Set work hours are becoming a thing of the past and quality is valued over quantity. A professional services firm’s success with embracing autonomy boils down to trust with leadership trusting the employees to meet expectations and goals without the rigid structure of the past as well as employees feeling assured that they are worthy of that trust.

Prioritizing Employee Mental and Emotional Health

Leadership empathy is necessary to sustain loyalty throughout a professional services firm, therefore, these organizations are prioritizing employee mental and emotional health needs. With a hybrid and remote workplace, employers are finding creative ways to promote reconnection and engagement among employees. Also, benefit plans, EAP programs and policies on PTO are being evaluated to provide employees with support during these changing and uncertain times.

Multigenerational Workforce

Additionally, in most professional services firms, there is a multigenerational workforce to take into consideration. These different employees are working side by side on the same teams and the culture needs to understand and reflect their unique expectations. The newer generations of workers have different priorities for their workplace and their career. Their expectations are more flexible schedules, more regular feedback on performance from managers and more collaboration on projects. HR and leadership must provide continuous performance management to acknowledge high performance and provide incentives to remain on staff.

Reskilling and Upskilling

With talent shortages being a reality, professional services firms will be focusing on other ways to meet the firm’s organizational needs. Options such as reskilling and upskilling the workforce help firms with filling in the gaps. Reskilling is when new skills are developed from an expiring skill set that is no longer in demand. Upskilling is building upon current skills to enhance or add adjacent ones.

To do so, HR and leadership will be evaluating and revising the firm’s learning and development offerings. “Learning in the flow of work,” a phrase coined by Josh Bersin, Global Industry Analyst, has been gaining attention. Using this method, employees will access small pieces of knowledge to help solve skills-related matters that happen at work. This way, employees can learn as they work at their own pace, and using a turn-key Learning Management System (LMS), they can have access to content on demand.

Outsourcing HR

HR roles have become a lot more complicated over the years with technological advances such as online employee portals and cloud-based management of employee activities. To be more efficient, it has made sense to make the change toward outsourcing the HR functions to specific professionals that have the needed expertise. According to FinancesOnline, research has found that by 2024 the global market for human resource outsourcing is expected to reach $43.8 billion.

Outsourcing certain necessary HR functions will handle the burdensome administrative responsibilities of HR in professional services firms. These firms will not outsource all HR functions though. There still needs to be internal HR departments to manage employee relations issues and the other human elements of the firm.

Diversity

Although not a new goal for professional services firms, there will be renewed HR effort to recruit and retain a diverse workforce including more workers of varying genders, races and nationalities. Bias in the hiring process is a well-known and widespread problem, however, even with the best of intentions, these biases can impact sourcing and recruiting decisions outside of the awareness of the recruiter.

Again, technology provides a solution to the issue of creating more diversity in the workplace. Using Artificial Intelligence (AI), candidates can be sourced and screened objectively. AI recruiting software can even be programmed to ignore demographic information and socioeconomic status. Even more, human recruiters will be able to save time by allowing the AI to do the redundant screening work for them. When the bias is removed from recruiting, a more diverse workforce will prevail in professional services firms.

Diversity awareness is not only addressed with increasing the number of professional services firms’ employees with varying backgrounds and beliefs. Also pertinent to this awareness is the implementation of training, programs, practices and policies which encourage knowledge, education, recognition, effective communication, sensitivity and accountability in a diverse workplace.

Differentiation & Branding

Being evident about what the corporate culture is and what the company goals are is from what a professional services firm’s branding is structured. It helps to identify the professional services firm’s differentiators from the competition and the type of talent the firm is seeking. HR plays a key role in the reinforcement of the branding of a firm

Talent acquisition practices should always incorporate branding because it’s the first impression a professional services firm makes for prospective employees and has the charge of selling the firm's greatest qualities. Communicating that the professional services firm is aware of and keeping up with workplace trends is a reflection of how it treats its employees and also evidence that the employees’ opinions about the company culture are recognized and considered.

Follow the Trends

These trends have all become standard and are expected for professional services firms to remain competitive in 2022. They may be new to your organization, but many firms that have already started implementation are experiencing their rewards. So, stay at the top of the professional services industry by following these workplace trends to succeed.

 

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Deltek 42nd AE Clarity Study Reveals an Evolving AE Workforce

Posted by Ryan Felkel on December 01, 2021

Starting with the obvious, all departments and roles at AE firms were directly impacted by the global pandemic. This is emphasized in each section of the 42nd Deltek AE Clarity Study. However, the Human Capital Management (HCM) segment highlights another challenge firms are facing – a multigenerational workforce.

Today, an AE firm’s workforce can include members of up to four generations. This infusion of differing opinions about professionalism, work-life balance, and overall expectations of an employer has pushed many company leaders to shift their culture to embrace these differences. While some firms have accepted this multigenerational workforce, others have chosen to keep up their traditional methods – until now.

manager demonstrating poor human capital management practices

When the COVID-19 global pandemic struck, expectations of flexible schedules, more casual work environments, and telecommute options were thrust upon everyone without warning. Even those that were steadfastly against the idea of hybrid workers. Now, we are at the crossroads of two seemingly unrelated challenges that have a common solution, and the pros and cons of this evolving workforce dynamic are highlighted in the 42nd Deltek AE Clarity Study.

New Human Capital Management Challenges

Great workforce management requires consistency, which is everything that work, and life hasn’t been since 2020. As a result, this imbalance has created a new leading challenge for AE firms in terms of HCM. According to the 42nd Deltek AE Clarity Study, succession and career development planning jumped to first place from third place in the previous study. Subsequently, performance management and employee engagement fell to second and third place.

On the surface, these challenges are expected in the given circumstances. Taking a deeper dive, learning and development programs ranked fourth overall and was considered a top three challenge for forty-eight percent of survey respondents. Looking below the surface, succession and career development planning, and learning and development programs are closely linked. Therefore, it’s logical that the increase in ranking in both these challenges goes hand in hand.

Employee Turnover and Staffing Levels

Overall, survey respondents reported that employee turnover rate went down over one percent. This may seem like a small change, but it goes against trends documented in past surveys. In previous years, AE firms reported increases in employee turnover rates. Likely because of the strong economy. Since 2020, it has been likely that employees preferred to stay with their existing employer for stability instead of taking a leap of faith with a new company during uncertain times.

In terms of personnel growth over the previous year, firm respondents stated that they had an increase of 0.5% which is nearly 3% less than reported in the 41st Deltek Clarity Study. This is likely the result of hiring freezes during uncertain times. Additionally, thirty-three percent of firms reported having more open positions at the time of the survey and fifty percent had fewer open positions. Encouraging is the fact that forty-eight percent of respondents state the reason for open positions is solely because of firm growth.

Talent Acquisition Challenges

One of the least surprising findings of the 42nd Deltek AE Clarity Study is that the availability of good candidates in the marketplace once again ranked number one in terms of top talent acquisition challenges. The simple cause and effect assumption is to connect this finding to the decrease in employee turnover rates and other factors like uncertainty about the future economy. But what impact will the pandemic and a new hybrid workforce has on talent acquisition challenges.

For years, firms have competed for talent within their local geographies. However, the global pandemic has allowed firms to embrace their evolving workforce, and employee can be an effective member of the team whether they are at the office or at their home. When taking into consideration the changes created by the pandemic, the challenges of the past, such as matching qualified candidates to open positions and offering competitive compensation will likely become minute in comparison to the other challenges listed in the Clarity Study.

Focusing on Managing and Retaining Talent

Providing a clear career path with training goals and milestones helps keep employees engaged and ultimately retain talent. For AE firms, this strategy helps them plan for the future to make sure the firm can remain successful. Apparently, this is no secret. Respondents to the 42nd Deltek AE Clarity Study overwhelmingly ranked create or improve succession and career development planning as a top initiative. Closely followed by developing more formal career development programs. Being leading areas of opportunity for improvement, these initiatives and the others that are highlighted in the 42nd Deltek AE Clarity Study are things firms should evaluate closely.

Clarity for the Future

Reflecting back, it’s impossible to avoid including the impacts of the global pandemic on businesses. For human resource professionals and AE firm leaders, they sure got the “short end of the stick” with having to adapt and quickly create policies to ensure business can continue as normal and employees are aware of the new expectations. Fortunately, the world is getting back to some sense of normality and those tasked with overseeing their firm’s HCM strategy can get back focusing on hiring and retaining talent, and developing training and succession plans.

Link to download the 42nd Deltek A&E Clarity Report

Skills Improvement Versus Corrective Action: Getting to the Root of Things

Posted by Tasia Grant, PHR on October 13, 2021

Professional services firm leaders are often inclined to immediately use discipline or use corrective action to address an ongoing performance issue. However, that would be like medicating based on symptoms, without getting to the root cause of the illness. Instead, slowing down and thoroughly evaluating the situation can shed light on possible solutions that are likely more beneficial to the employee and for the firm as a whole.

Employee meeting with supervisor

When to Use a Skills Improvement Plan

Behavioral concerns and non-compliance issues can usually be directly impacted by progressive discipline. On the contrary, skill deficiencies or job performance concerns are usually best addressed with skills improvement plans and that includes more than just the technical skills required to perform the functions of the position. They can also incorporate the other skills essential and critical to the overall scope of the job.

For example, a manager may be a high performer based on their knowledge level and ability to perform the job duties. Yet, they may struggle in the areas of interpersonal communication or may not have had prior management experience and may need to work on developing their leadership skills. Which are areas not related to behavioral or compliance concerns.

Therefore, these skills would be best addressed with coaching, guidance, and setting clear goals and expectations. Coaching can include suggested training, an outlined strategy for change, developed by both the manager and their director, as well as mediation between the manager and their reports. If there is a desire to thrive in the position the manager should be open to the plan laid out to help them improve. Usually, employees do accept and appreciate the assistance if they feel that the plan being presented is sincere and demonstrates that the company wants them to be successful.

When to Use a Corrective Action Plan

Sometimes firms have an employee that excels in their position but is also an employee that is consistently late to their shift, breaking company policy, or their behavior is causing disruption to the team or clients. In this case, a more targeted and direct approach needs to be applied for more immediate results. Cases like these are when corrective action needs to be taken using a progressive discipline plan. This technique provides the employee an opportunity to make improvements or adjustments while allowing the employer to implement corrective actions if there is no improvement.

Corrective actions can vary in severity and can include a verbal warning or a written warning as lighter punishments. Whereas suspending an employee or terminating them can be more severe. Furthermore, corrective action primarily addresses critical problems, recurring issues, and/or problems that endanger health or safety of others.

Employees are Investments

Remember that with both a skills improvement plan and a corrective action plan, the primary goal should be to identify the cause of the change and a solution that leads to positive results. Additionally, firm leaders and managers need to consider that an employee may have greatness in them and are an asset to the firm, but are apprehensive to reveal it for fear that it will set higher expectations of them that they aren’t confident they can achieve. These processes will reveal that and encourage them to embrace it and display it.

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Effective Employee Feedback to Coach a Winning Team

Posted by Tasia Grant, PHR on July 28, 2021

Imagine being the head coach of a promising basketball team that with the right guidance can be league champions year after year. However, that is a rather ambiguous statement. What is the right guidance? Who is the coach? Even more, what does basketball have to do with professional services firms? Wow, those are some great questions.

Satisfaction face illustrations on chalkboard

For a coach of a team, it is his or her job to guide the players and instruct them on how to make the best use of each individuals talents to win each game. Similarly, a manager at a professional services firm is the leader of the team of employees that contribute to successfully completing a project. And as a coach or manager, recognizing underperforming players, improved or exceptional players, and how often recognition is needed can be difficult. Most importantly, the coach or manager of the team is ultimately responsible for wins and losses. Therefore, to be a great team leader, understanding how to effectively use feedback is critical to the success of the team.

Three Points for Negative Feedback

 

Ignoring shortcomings or less than desired performance and failing to address these concerns with employees is a common problem with managers. It is human nature to want to avoid potentially negative situations. But, is it okay to ignore that number 6 keeps missing three pointers? If so, this mindset and practice are contributing factors to why low performers continue to make errors, fail to meet expectations, and show a lack of improvement.

 

Managers avoid these conversations throughout the year because of the misconception that negative feedback is not as purposeful or as acceptable as positive feedback. Both managers and their reports can dread these conversations, and as a result, the managers defer to the annual performance review to address any grievances or concerns, assuming that the employee will expect it all at that time anyways. As a result, managers are doing their low-performing employees a disservice with this practice which does not foster a culture and environment to help their employees to win. Which is essentially like waiting till the end of the game before telling number 6 to give up on the three pointers.

 

Slam Dunk for Positive Feedback

 

Higher performers who anticipate annual raises and promotions often look forward to annual performance reviews. This confidence is not always instinctive or due to self-evaluation. In reality, it is because high performers often experience random, spontaneous praises and recognition for both small and large accomplishments, which creates positive affirmation. Similar to LeBron James, the crowd cheers we he sinks hoops, roars when he slam dunks, and celebrates his championships.

 

Unlike negative situations, it’s in peoples’ nature to seek out opportunities to praise others for their successes like fans in the stands cheering and screaming for every big play. Therefore, informal and formal recognitions of achievements tend to happen more often and spontaneously which provides continuous affirmation to high performers. But, not every team has a LeBron James, and even King James himself needs feedback from his coach to be a better team player.

 

Using Quarters and Timeouts for Effective Feedback

 

In basketball, imagine if, throughout a game, a coach witnessed one of their players missing passes, missing shots, failing to intercept…and not just failing to perform at his or her highest potential but in fact, performing below standard…not even meeting expectations. Would it be fair to the player or the team for the coach to wait until the end of the game to give the player feedback, pointing out all the player’s deficiencies? By then, it would adversely affect them, make them defensive or hyper focused on every misstep, ultimately leaving them feeling that losing the game was their fault.   

 

On the contrary, imagine if the coach addressed the player’s performance obstacles when they first noticed them and brought it to the player’s attention to ensure they were aware and determine if outside factors were contributing to the change in performance. Then, strategized with the player providing them with the guidance and knowledge to succeed. This sends the message to the player that they are valued, that the coach believes in them, and most importantly that they are still in the game, giving them the incentive to try harder to win!

 

Well, why wait till the end of the year or the end of the project to address areas of improvement or to recognize their achievements? Like a basketball game, managers need to find more frequent intervals to have formal one-on-one employee feedback sessions than the typical yearly review. Additionally, managers need to know when to call a timeout to address an employee’s shortcomings or celebrate an employee’s or the entire team’s achievements. Just as important, make sure to soften the blow negative feedback can have by sandwiching it between positive feedback.

Link to performance management webinar

Searching for Unicorns with Deltek Talent Management

Posted by Joel Slater on May 05, 2021

Imagine this scenario, it is Monday morning, and you’ve just been notified that your business development team has secured a major high dollar construction project due to start in three weeks. While a core project team has been assigned, certain significant positions crucial to this project are not yet filled. You’ve been asked to find these key players immediately to round out the project team, and you can tell that the needs are quite specific maybe even unicorns. You take a deep breath, process everything for a minute, and think I got this. Why? Well, you’ve got the power of resume searches in Deltek Talent Management.

 

unicorn resume

The Hunt Begins

Deltek Talent Acquisition, a part of Deltek Talent, offers a resume search which allows you to check out your entire database of resumes using whatever criteria you need. You can choose a key word, specific skill certification or license and just filter the information as you need. When looking for those unicorns, having the option to easily find them is important and a real time saver.

Unicorns Don’t Stay Out in the Wild for Long

Once you’ve identified the unicorns you are seeking, finding them requires quick action so having immediate access to certain resumes is a priority. The Deltek Talent main dashboard can be configured with a search resumes widget which allows you to quickly search for your desired resumes. Once you find your unicorns, you must be able to track them down and catch them as soon as possible.

Newly Discovered Species

At times, your tracked population of unicorns is missing in your current database, but other species do exist. So being able to be notified when another unicorn meeting the specific needs appears is a nice feature to have. Resume Search Agents let you save a specific search, and you can choose the frequency of the emails coming in when certain applicants match your criteria.

Additionally, in the case of an immediate need, you have access to other databases such as Monster and Career Builder from directly within Deltek Talent Acquisition. You can import resumes from other sources right into your database. These options give you a great chance of finding a new species of unicorn.

Tag the Unicorns in Your Research

Surprisingly, you’ve been able to find and capture the unicorns you were seeking. However, you may have discovered that you didn’t need all of them at once. Since they are rare and special, you want to make sure you can find them again. In Deltek Talent Management, resume pools can be created to tag candidates that are great choices for future openings. Your Resume Search Agents can automatically populate these pools for you, keeping a list of those with the skills you are desiring.

Don’t Forget to Feed the Unicorns

Fortunately, you’ve been able to find the unicorns you needed with the power of resume searches in Deltek Talent. Your project team is now ready to go, and you can breathe a sigh of relief. However, don’t forget to feed the unicorns and keep them happy, including the ones on your team, since they are a valuable resource. As for the candidates that you tagged for future openings, using Deltek Talent Relationship Management, you can keep in touch so hopefully they will come when you call them. Maybe have some sugar cubes ready?

Deltek Talent Candidate Engagement link to demo

Setting the Tone for the Candidate Interview Process

Posted by Tasia Grant, PHR on April 14, 2021

After the countless interviews I have done over the last twenty years, one of the greatest compliments I’ve received from a hiring manager was, “You bring an energy that makes candidates feel comfortable enough to be themselves.” With every interview opportunity comes the ability to explore a match for a candidate with the position and firm. When candidates are prepared and at ease during an interview, much can be learned about their personalities and potential to fill open positions. As the interviewer, you want to know with confidence that you’ve taken the time to make the whole process positive and done your due diligence when selecting the “right fit,” not just on paper. 

 

Employee Interview

 

Initiate Attraction

The job description for an open position is a very significant piece of the pre-interview process, and if written well, it transitions nicely into the actual interview. Oftentimes, job descriptions get recycled over and over while the job itself has gone through many evolutions. Many factors can impact the scope of a position like change in the size of the team or leadership, new technology, and change in the needs and goals of the company. In the AEC industry, particularly, industry standards and regulations can impact the requirements for certain job titles.

So, in preparation for interviewing for a specific position, the job description must be clearly written to reflect the qualifications expected of top talent. Candidates should then be able to see exactly what is required by the job description in advance and come to the interview able to prove how they match the needs and fit in the overall organizational plan. Interviewers having previously provided what they are looking for in a clear job description will receive candidates that are ready to showcase what they bring to the table and make the interview process flow easily and successfully.

Make a Good First Impression

If candidates are able to come into the office, they should feel not only welcomed but excited about sharing their qualifications with you. Greetings and initial contact in person should be done with polite professionalism such as acknowledging their interview time and offering water or a place to sit and wait for their time slot. The interviewer should come out and walk candidates back to the pre-set-up room and inquire as to any needs they have before the interview begins. For a Zoom or phone call, candidates should still be greeted on time with a positive attitude and made to feel that their time is valuable.

Break the Ice and Establish the Mood

As the interview begins, candidates should be encouraged to relax with some comforting initial conversational questions. Afterwards, they should be reminded to take their time and think through their answers asking for clarity if a question isn’t understood. With most interviews these days being conducted virtually, you want to create an environment that removes the technical barrier and gives the same energy you would if you were in-person. For the interview questions, minimize the predictable, classic, broad questions like “Tell me your strengths and weaknesses,” or “Do you work well with others?”

Remember the goal is to find out who the person is, not just what they think you want to hear. You should ask Behavioral Questions that allow candidates to talk about their past work experiences. Behavioral-based interview questions focus on how they previously handled various work situations such as “Tell me a situation which was challenging and how you handled it?” Especially for highly technical and labor-based industries, like AEC, ensure that the questions are specific to the position and structured to reveal the candidates’ skills, abilities, and thought processes.

Candidates, having reviewed your job description in advance and feeling at ease with the interviewer, should be able to relate to the needs of the open position and provide some good examples of their past experiences. As mentioned before, a well written job description pre-interview should provide top talent the chance to come to the interview prepared for identifying their skills. You should wrap up the interview by allowing the candidates to ask any other questions and give them an overview of the remaining steps in the candidate selection process including the approximate date you have targeted to have the position filled.

Carefully Choose Your Match

When possible, conduct post-interview discussions immediately after the interviews or within a few days so that impressions and thoughts about the candidates are still fresh in the mind. Many companies use a rating system to rank the candidates’ interview performances. Using the ranking system can work in conjunction with post-interview discussions, and it provides measurable data to support the final decision.

After all interviews have been completed, make the selection of your candidate a priority. Efforts to determine who will move to the next step or to choose the final selection should be made within a week to increase the probability that your top choices are still available when you are ready to extend an offer. Every interview that is completed requires a follow-up indicating the status in the selection process or thanking candidates for their time if not chosen.

Keep in mind that those candidates that are not picked for current positions might be good matches for future positions, so it is important to have open communications all the way through to the end. Also, maintaining these connections will ensure good public relations going forward. You never know when a position will open up again so setting the right tone for the entire candidate interview process is a must in order to attract and find the best fit for your firm.

Automate Job Postings

 

Recruiting Top Talent in the New Normal: FACT vs. FICTION

Posted by Tasia Grant, PHR on March 24, 2021

The “new normal” is not so new anymore as we are still operating in a different state of existence. There is so much conflicting and confusing information being disseminated out there about the job market and the current state of unemployment that both employers and candidates aren’t sure how to approach meeting their specific needs. Let’s break down common myths about the current market and what’s important to job seekers a year after the pandemic began. Knowing the truth between fact and fiction in the present recruiting climate will help determine what’s really important to top talent and will guide talent acquisition.

questions marks

FICTION: Things should “get back to normal” later this year. 

A quarter of the way, even halfway through 2020, firms were holding on to the thought of being able to pick up where they left off before the pandemic, especially if the firm was operating at its highest level at the pandemic’s onset. At that time, they were viewing any adjustments or changes as a temporary fix to make it through what they hoped would be the end of this catastrophic event. Taking their lead, employees were anticipating the same, even avoiding getting their hopes up of maintaining their virtual work status and the savings racked up from a decrease in spending on gas, lunch, and clothing. Candidates, as well, took a wait and see approach assuming that virtual work would not be the long-term expectation. 

Now, some employers realize there is no such thing as “getting back to normal.” Therefore, they are beginning the process to identify permanent adjustments that need to be made. To make the hiring process for new candidates smoother and more effective, they need to evaluate what would work best going forward virtually. 

FACT: In the AEC industry, employment has been consistent. 

According to data from a monthly supplement to PSMJ’s Quarterly Market Forecast (QMF) survey of AEC firms in the 4th quarter of 2020, the AEC industry has weathered the crisis better than most. The survey also found that less than 5% of responding firms suffered “significant” staff reductions, and under 15% said that their project delays and cancellations were “major” as opposed to moderate or minor. However, the industry must still proceed with caution because the stagnation in construction employment in January may foreshadow further deterioration in the industry as projects that started before the pandemic finish up and companies hold off on awarding new work. Project-based top talent should be kept in the loop as to the status of upcoming projects to ensure availability when needed. 

FICTION: People are so desperate for work they aren’t looking for competitive salaries. 

In the current environment, with so many workers facing lack of income or the threat of losing their current salaries, the assumption may be that candidates will take what they can get. This may give employers the false sense of security that they can offer lower salaries and still obtain top talent. What we are seeing is that job candidates are seeking out firms that provide competitive salaries, and even more importantly, firms that are flexible and truly care about the wellbeing of their staff. Top talent will remember how they were treated during the pandemic.

FACT: It is now easier to find top talent. 

This is partially true. The challenge is that HR professionals may see an increase in applications for some positions making it harder to sift through the resumes and find the right candidate in a timely manner. HR teams that have an automated screening system will be in a better position to filter out unqualified individuals. Furthermore, employers that have established HR processes in place to proactively recruit and nurture candidates will be able to cut through the noise more quickly.

 

FACT: Work from home (WFH) options remain viable. 

The AEC industry will see a mix of in-person and WFH. For the architectural and engineering industries, WFH can be accomplished by the majority of positions. To the contrary, the construction industry will have a significantly smaller portion of its workforce that is able to work remotely. 

Throughout the pandemic, AE firms have found enabling employees to work from home much easier than originally thought. Those that have embraced it wholeheartedly have reaped the benefits. This mindset shift now requires HR professionals to think about moving forward on how they will accommodate both in-person and WFH positions as this becomes more prevalent in the industry. In the end, top talent will be enticed by the work options. 

FACT: Work/Life balance is a critical consideration for all.

Transitioning staff from on site to remote work was a big adjustment for many firms, and some found the balance to be a challenge. As more firms continue to offer WFH positions, HR professionals will need to identify ways to help employers manage employee expectations and become more flexible with schedules. According to Tiger Recruitment Salary and Benefits Review 2021, Work/Life Balance ranks third most important to salary and job security, when it comes to attracting candidates to their next role. 

Human Resources Must Be Front and Center

Today, acquiring top talent means new approaches and viewpoints to ensure firms are staying competitive. Superior candidates will be looking for a virtual means of recruitment and hiring, acceptable salaries and flexible work options. Maintaining a strong firm culture with a fragmented and remote working staff puts the burden on management to mentor, communicate, and collaborate with teams. HR processes must be adjusted and updated to help firms adapt to the changing times, and Human Resources must stand front and center in the firm’s overall business strategy.

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Why Continuous Performance Management is Better than Annual Reviews

Posted by Jennifer Renfroe on February 24, 2021

Relying on annual performance reviews as the main performance evaluation tool often feels like employees are given one big dose of criticism that has been saved up all year long. This process does a lot more harm than good as it is generally a collection of out-of-context feedback received long after projects have ended, and no improvements can be made. According to a 2019 Workhuman Analytics and Research study, 55 percent of workers believe annual reviews did not improve their performance, and a study from Gallup indicated that nearly 30 percent were so put off by a negative review that they started looking for a new job.

People Meeting

Annual Reviews are Obsolete

In actuality, many HR leaders are dissatisfied with annual performance reviews and find them obsolete. They realize that continuous and supportive feedback with more frequent reviews can help spur employee growth and development. While negative feedback is unavoidable, it should be given in small manageable amounts letting employees digest and make proactive changes. For project-based firms in particular, it is important to let team members know where they are doing well and indicate areas of improvement as the projects are happening rather than waiting until year end when it is too late. Additionally, continuous performance management is much better tailored to meet the needs of the modern workforce.

Reflects How Work Gets Done

Continuous performance management is reflective of how the work really gets done, and it increases employee engagement. Feedback is quite effective when check-ins are frequent, and according to Workhuman, employees who checked in with their manager at least weekly are five times less likely to be disengaged than those who never check-in. With the pandemic and remote working in 2020, the need for consistent feedback became even greater as the virtual nature of business made it harder to connect personally.

Shows Employees Their Value to the Firm

As employees are given continuous input on their performance, they begin to see how they are providing value to their firm. Motivated employees get their work done faster, are more creative and collaborative, and go above and beyond what is expected. Even given areas of improvement, motivated employees will work harder to make sure their goals are met. And when employees are more efficient, there is a positive impact on the firm’s bottom line.

Focuses on Career Development

When having more frequent conversations about performance, employees can be considering their next steps in career development. Talking about performance development is much more forward thinking, positive and employee focused. Doing this shows employees that their work is appreciated and that they are valued. When employees are invested in getting to another level in their career, they are motivated and harder working.

Communicates Expectations Clearly

In the past, employees often did not know what their expectations were, and the annual review was the first time they were able to see the bigger picture. When communication is increased in a continuous fashion, employees are able to understand immediate priorities and the firm’s ultimate goals and plans. These discussions provide a meaningful pathway to success for both employees and the firm as a whole. Therefore, employees feel engaged and are motivated to meet goals.

Offers Timely Feedback

If employees are not aware that something is wrong, they do not know to fix it. Without direct conversations regarding areas that need improvement, employees cannot be held accountable for not making corrections. Especially with projects, team members need to know what aspects of the project could be adjusted more appropriately to meet the firm’s goals. Not addressing these issues until year end does not provide any way to resolve them. As a result, continuous performance management is truly a necessity for project-based firms.

Continuous Performance Management is the Future

The modern project-based workforce demands a performance management system that focuses on autonomy, development, feedback and engagement. Shifting to a continuous performance management system simply requires effective processes and a technology solution that can facilitate them throughout the firm. With an effective talent management solution, your firm can realize project team success while truly engaging your quality talent using continuous performance management.

Continuous Feedback and Goals

Human Capital Management Remotely – No Office Required!

Posted by Sarah Gonnella on February 10, 2021

Since the spring of 2020, many firms have had to transition to a remote only working environment. Learning to deal with this new operating style was certainly a challenge at first, but hopefully, these same firms are embracing the changes which could help to streamline the whole Human Capital Management (HCM) process. Let’s check out how HCM can be successfully done remotely with no office required based on our own experience at Full Sail Partners.

Human Capital Management

Pre-Hire

First off is the interview process which can still be done face to face, just virtually. Searching for talent is different when you work remotely. The location of potential new hires doesn’t really matter. It is more about skillsets and the fit of the person with the company.

You will also want to ask different types of questions about working from home such as questions towards working autonomously and communication skills. You need to see signs of motivation and the ability to self-motivate with any candidates you interview. Some key questions are “Why would you want to work from home?” and “Can you handle IT issues on your own?”, “Do you have internet?”, and “Do you have a quiet place to work from”. These types of questions will help you determine whether a particular candidate can handle a remote only position.

Onboarding

Once you’ve found the talent that seems to fit your remote work environment and the offer letter has been accepted, it is time to prepare for this new hire. Working remotely, a very important place to start is with the IT aspect. Having a standard online checklist of items that IT should prepare for is super helpful. Deltek Collaboration and Microsoft Teams are great solutions that allow you to copy a template that includes a list of standard tasks or assignments. Don’t reinvent the wheel each time you have a new hire. Everyone needs a computer and login info for different types of software. Send that info ahead of time so new hires can be ready day one to start learning more about the company. Also be sure new employees are provided with contacts within the company that can be approached for different needs. Working remotely puts the onus on the new hire to seek out the answers, but they should have a list of resources.

Another significant way to start on good footing remotely involves setting goals. These goals will have details about expectations to accomplish. The goals should focus on steps that are required to be successful. We find establishing 45-day, 3-month, 6-month, and 9-month goals can ensure the employee knows exactly their priorities and allows them to proceed forward with confidence. A supervisor should meet with the employee at the end of each of these time increments to discuss where they are in meeting their goals and determine if further mentoring or training is required.

Retention

Full Sail Partners Team Fun Meeting CallNow that you have the right people for remote work up to speed, think about ways to engage employees and offer professional development. Since you can’t just walk down the hall to see what is happening, you have to trust them and their desire to perform their duties. Continuous feedback and performance discussions are key. It is a good idea to check in to see how things are going in frequent intervals.

Finally, day to day is different in the remote world with no monthly team lunches or birthday cake. However, time can be taken to meet virtually over Zoom, have phone conversations or even text. Just recently, Full Sail Partners had a virtual happy hour to get the gang together with a little bingo time. Being comfortable in a new position at the outset also promotes retention. New hires can learn about the roles of the various company positions through shadowing them. Once employees have shadowed certain firm members, they can then take the lead knowing that there is a built-in safety net still shadowing them. Offering professional development opportunities and trainings is another means to ensure retention. There are plenty of online resources available.

Learn More From Full Sail Partners' Sarah Gonnella

Sarah is interviewed by another Full Sail Partners' Crew Member about the onboarding process at our firm. Watch the video below.

Remote Going Forward?

Full Sail Partners has been a virtual company for more than two decades and has proven that HCM can be done remotely with success. For those firms who have seen the benefits of working remotely, there may not be a return to the way before. Let Full Sail Partners’ experience guide you going forward. If your firm is interested in learning more about remote working, feel free to reach out to an employee to learn more about their experience.

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Top Watched Full Sail Partners’ Webinars of 2020!

Posted by Ryan Felkel on January 06, 2021

Last year kept us busy with all the new developments of Deltek Vantagepoint, not to mention the large number of firms upgrading from Vision to Vantagepoint. However, we planned for this back in 2019 and decided to roll out a series of mini demonstrations focused on specific features and functions available in Vantagepoint.

Webinars

This new format proved to be overwhelmingly successful. Therefore, as you review the top 10 watched webinars of 2020, you will likely notice that many of them are part of our “Powering Project Success with Deltek Vantagepoint” mini demonstration series. Enough with the introduction, here are the top 10 webinars you and your peers watched in 2020.

Top 10 Full Sail Partners’ Webinars of 2020

  1. Deltek Vantagepoint – The Best All in One Package – This webinar is an ideal webinar to watch if you are new to or have very little knowledge of Vantagepoint. If you watch this webinar, you will learn what Vantagepoint is, what resources and information are available, and you will learn more about the steps to upgrade from Vision to Vantagepoint. Make sure to check this traditional one-hour webinar out to also learn about our favorite new features. Did I mention that this webinar aired live in 2019? It made the 2020 top watched list since the on-demand video was downloaded by so many people.
  2. Powering Project Success with Deltek Talent – Candidate Engagement – Professional services firms are quickly realizing that acquiring and retaining industry top talent is becoming a necessity to stay competitive. Deltek has recognized this need as well and created Deltek Talent to assist firms in automating the employee experience and lifecycle. This mini demo hosted by Joel Slater features Deltek Talent and the specific tools within this human capital management system that support the candidate engagement experience to help attract the future leaders of your firm.
  3. Powering Project Success with Deltek Vantagepoint – Update Your Timesheet Using the Deltek Calendar– Billable employees struggling with staying organized with meetings and client appointments will benefit from this mini demo. No one wants to worry about completing the dreaded timesheet. With Vantagepoint, the challenge of keeping up with all your daily tasks has been simplified with the Deltek Calendar. During this mini demo, Nicole Temple will show how the Deltek Calendar helps users keep up with their billable engagements and how this information easily transfers over to a user’s timesheet.
  4. Powering Project Success with Deltek Vantagepoint – Quickly Build Project Plans – Maintaining successful projects requires all team members to have the information they need when they need it most. Furthermore, project plans often necessitate adjustments during the life of the project and this must happen quickly and easily. This mini demo is hosted by Rana Blair and shows users how to quickly build project plans and update them in Vantagepoint. This is a must watch for project managers.
  5. Tale of Two Firms: Tackling Business Intelligence –Business intelligence (BI) is booming in all industries as more and more BI tools enter the market. But you don’t have to take our word for it! During this webinar moderated by Sarah Gonnella, two of our clients that represent different firms share how the Informer 5 BI tool has revolutionized their business analytics capabilities. Make sure to watch this webinar on-demand to learn ways your firm can embrace the power of BI.
  6. Powering Project Success with Deltek Vantagepoint - Mobile CRM – Getting out and talking with existing and prospective clients is a standard part of business development and essential to winning new business. With Vantagepoint’s mobile capabilities, updating touchpoints while on-the-go has never been easier. Watch this mini demo hosted by Kevin Hebblethwaite to see how Vantagepoint streamlines the business development process with mobile functionality.
  7. Powering Project Success with Deltek Vantagepoint – Create Flexible Billing Terms – Not all projects are the same, nor are project billing terms. However, this is not a problem for Vantagepoint users. During this mini-demo, Scott Gailhouse shows how simple it is to create unique billing terms for projects in Vantagepoint.
  8. Powering Project Success with Deltek Vantagepoint – Streamline and Expedite the Invoice Review Process - In any business, getting paid is the name of the game. However, professional services firms have a lot to track to create accurate invoices that can be sent to clients. With Vantagepoint, the old days of printing invoices and marking them up by hand are long gone. Now project managers can use the invoice review features to streamline the review process. If you are in accounting or project management, you will want to see Rick Childs’ demonstration that is available on-demand.
  9. Powering Project Success with Deltek Vantagepoint – Capture Project Information for Proposals – As many of you know, having high quality proposals that address all the requirements contained in an RFP is essential for winning new projects. Even more, proposal teams are usually up against tight timelines to draft and finalize a winning RFP response. With Deltek Vantagepoint, this struggle can be better managed. This webinar is a guided tour by Lindsay Diven to show users the features in Vantagepoint that enable the quick creation of winning proposals.
  10. Powering Project Success with Deltek Vantagepoint – Project Templates and Plan Settings – The most popular webinar of 2020 was part of our Vantagepoint mini demonstration series. During this presentation, Theresa DePew shows users how to quickly create templates that have the correct pre-defined WBS so that entering data into the correct fields is the only task a user has to complete. Watch this outstanding demo to see how Vantagepoint has made planning a new project quick and easy.

What to Expect in 2021?

In 2021, we are planning on hosting a mix of traditional one-hour webinars and continuing to add to the “Powering Project Success with Deltek Vantagepoint” mini demonstration series. We will continue to promote these webinars using our newsletter and email notifications. Please make sure to pay attention to the amount of time allotted for a specific live webinar event on the registration page. Mini demonstrations are typically 30 minutes long with the actual demonstration being from 7 to 15 minutes long followed by live QA with the presenter.

We hope to see you at our live virtual events in 2021! In the meantime, catch up on past webinars you may have missed that are available on-demand. Enjoy learning!

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