I am in a great situation where I talk to many companies who employ engineers across different sectors. Businesses seem to have the same problems when they recruit. In this blog, I will highlight some of those problems and give employers an insight into what I’ve found engineers value when they are looking for a new position.
Firstly there seems to be a genuine shortage of engineers across the country. Many companies are unable to expand until they build a team capable of taking on more work. Some companies I speak to have been trying to recruit for over a year to find the correct people. It can be the methods being used: if you would like to know more about what methods are out there and the cost of these, just click on the FREE GUIDES AND UPDATES button on my blog page. This guide will give a general overview of what recruitment methods there are and the cost associated with them.
I specialise in Contingency and Retained Recruitment but also do Fixed Price Online Recruitment for some companies. Using these methods I have managed help replace staff and expand engineering teams for many companies so understand the process well.
Two years ago the Independent reported that The Royal Academy of Engineering said the UK would need over 1 million new engineers in the following 5 years. The country is falling well short of that, which can be seen by the high number of companies struggling to recruit.
Some of the problems for employers are:
- Keeping hold of their engineers in such a competitive market.
- Recruiting to find good apprentice engineers.
- Finding engineers with the matching experience they need.
- Completing contracts and quotas with an understrength team.
- Losing newly qualified apprentices to competitors.
One employer told me he has a sinking feeling when an engineer hands his notice in as he has struggled in the past to find the right people. He went on to say if he can’t find a person before they leave it puts pressure on my other staff and they become unhappy.
Before I address any of these, I’ll list what engineers ask and value when I am talking to them about positions they have applied for.
What engineers value:
- Shift patterns and working times to fit their life.
- Salary and if there is an overtime rate and how much is available.
- Location of the site in relation to them.
- Company ethos and core values.
- The structure and organisation of the workplace.
- The content of the work and how stimulating it is.
- Benefits package and any perks to the role.
- Progression opportunities within the company.
People will value some or all of these when looking at new positions or job adverts or at initial screening, but there is one primary truth which is the happier a worker is, the less likely they are to move on.
In my experience the three top reasons why engineers and related trades have looked to move on from an employer are, in order:
Why engineers look to move:
- They are unhappy with the shift pattern, usually a rotating shift.
- Feeling they are being treated unfairly.
- There are no progressions or further training available.
I haven’t put the salary in this as it is not in the top 3 reasons I hear. Obviously it is woven into a lot of decisions, for example, an engineer may have a job they love but if they are being underpaid and can’t afford to do the things they want to in life they will look to move. Accordingly, an engineer may be in a position they don’t enjoy, but if they are being overpaid, they may stay.
Strategies employers can use:
- Look at the shift patterns, one company looked at their patterns and realised from feedback that the alternating shift was causing engineers to leave. The employer set up to have some engineers working permanent nights and some days. He needed more on days, so the few who wanted to work nights with a night shift allowance fitted well.
- Examine the company culture to ensure, onboarding, training and progressions are built into the fabric of the business. Try to recognise across staff performance, reliability and success, most will act quite nonplussed about it, but if done correctly, research shows it can have a marked effect on employee morale and retention.
- Receiving good honest feedback from employees, either in individual meetings or anonymously to see if there are any areas of concern which could be addressed.
- On the recruiting side, try to keep up to date on salaries within the trade and factor in how much it costs to recruit for staff. Time and energy spent by yourself or the recruiter to find the correct person for the role always save money in the long term. Take as much care and attention recruiting for apprentices as possible as they are an excellent way to expand, and with well-structured progressions, they could be with you for a long time.
- With scarcity comes ingenuity, what can you offer that others aren’t? How can you affect your companies culture to stimulate your staff to make them feel part of something of value? The more you can do this the longer you will keep your prized engineers.