For the past three years, we’ve shared with you our lists of 40-ish young superstars in this industry, dubbing them the 40 CI Influencers Under 40. These people are employees we consider rising stars, not only within their own companies, but in the integration world as a whole.
Meanwhile, for the past several years integration firm leaders have continually told us that they’re struggling to recruit the next generation of employees with with their firms can evolve.
We decided to try to identify characteristics of the ideal employees integration firms ought to be targetting. We want to help identfy their next rising stars.
So CI Research went directly to our 40 Under 40 classes to ask 56 of them their thoughts on — among many topics — what makes a good employer, what characteristics comprise a good work environment and the most important aspects of their jobs, both tangible and intangible.
Our survey respondents put forth some variation on the following words/ phrases most often regarding questions about good employers and ideal work environments:
- Recognition of — and respect for —work/life balance
- Culture of respectful communication,collaboration and trust
- Growth opportunities and challenges
- Culture of inclusion and diversity
- Flexibility in scheduling, working environment
- Recognition of the value of trainingand support
- Autonomy in a collaborative, team-oriented environment
- Atmosphere of mutual respect, positive attitudes, integrity
- Clear, well-defined strategy and business model
In terms of benefits, base salary and healthcare were highly rated, but still lower than intangible benefits including a “sense of accomplishment/fulfillment,” “company culture,” “challenging work” and “career advancement potential.”
In fact, more than 70 percent of respondents gave “sense of accomplishment” a top rating of 5 (highly important) and almost two-thirds assigned a rating of 5 to “company culture.”
Just over one-quarter (26.6 percent) of respondents rate themselves as either “capable,” “advanced” or “expert” when it comes to coding skills, while more than one-third (35.6 percent) say they have no experience/capability in coding.
Here are some more takeaways from our survey:
What do you look for in a good employer?
- Culture (team-oriented, happy people, positive environment, has a vision for the future of the organization); support in my role (training offered, manager check-ups, autonomy with lifelines); growth opportunities; great pay with benefits.
- A good employer is one that is generous — both in benefits and compensation, as well as time, training and investment in their employees. I look for employers who seek to contribute to you as much as you contribute to them.
- I look for diversity in management style and cultural flexibility. I need to respect the leadership that I am working for and I need to feel respected by the leadership. A fair and hard-working environment focused on honesty and integrity.
On ideal work environments:
- A collaborative environment where the company is looking to take on progressively more difficult challenges, focused on long-term goals and achieving them by continually looking for ways to improve team performance.
- A fun environment; I would hope to hear some form of laughter throughout the building each and every day. A competitive environment; hearing spirited conversations about how to approach an opportunity is welcomed. Being surrounded by people that possess a desire to win tends to elevate the competitive nature in all of us.
- A team environment that allows me to develop my technical and business leadership skills in an open, autonomous, challenging, hard-working environment. Working with a team that doesn’t watch the clock and puts in their full effort any time of the day, any hour of the week, in order to provide a better solution for our customers.
- Flexible hours and/or location to better maintain work/life balance; a physical office with a door — cubicles are awful and noisy; friendly co-workers who communicate and collaborate well; physically close to my home or compensation high enough to make up for time and sanity lost to commuting.
Other thoughts on what it takes for an employer to recruit and retain skilled and valuable employees:
- For me, the key to career fulfillment comes from being in an environment where there is mutual trust, growth and flexibility. When the team has a sense of cohesion and shared beliefs, we win. That sense of teamwork and care helps retain top talent.
- I feel the need for technically skilled labor is increasing in the AV business. There really are fewer and fewer requests for old-school AV. Everything is now on the network, EVERYTHING. So if you are an AV guy and don’t learn networking you will be missing the industry move and relegating yourself to certain failure. AV techs are soon to become IT techs. So it is important for employers to see this coming trend and provide continuing education in IT and networking. Also, there will be upward pressure on salary as AV guys become IT guys and then have a whole new job market opened to them once they master the IT side.
- I have yet to find the perfect employer. I think it is often a compromise. It is important to have management that is willing to be flexible, take some risks, and be honest with their communication. Don’t pay an employee just enough to take the job; pay them enough to keep them. Also, help them to maintain training to stay up with trends and technology.
- Keeping valuable employees is a balance of making them feel relied on for their skills while giving them room to grown and learn new ones. Monetary compensation is nice, but compliments and awards go a long way. Let them know when they do a good job, it makes reprimanding them for mistakes sink in more. Everyone wants to do a good job.
- There are so few people with top talent in our industry, and many companies seem to take them for granted. We all see the moves where people seem to rotate around the industry every few years. This is a direct result of companies not valuing their employees and rewarding them properly. This doesn’t necessarily mean pure financial reward. Enriching the workplace, providing opportunities for advancement or specialized training, and giving more responsibilities, can all be ways to show employees they are valued, and that their contributions matter. If employees don’t feel that their ideas are respected and valued, there is no doubt they are going to look for a company that does.
- To encourage diversity in their work force (age, gender, race, orientation, skill set, generation, etc.), employers need to be looking for “teachable” employees, rather than those who check off every skill set box. If we’re looking for people with skills just like us, they’ll often end up being like us in background and education and as a result, not very diverse. Instead, we need to look to talent for their transferrable skills and the rest will sort itself out.
- Trying out new things to seek improvement is the overall goal. A stagnant, reluctant-to-change employer with strict rules and guidance will not be my choice for an ideal work place. With everyone working longer hours and more increasing workloads, do HR departments even have a task/program dedicated to employee retention?
- When employers acknowledge your capabilities, assets and contributions and express this to you the employee, it feels fantastic. Ideally, it would be great if your current employer shared their enthusiasm about you with you, but it also feels good when another employer that wants to recruit you recognizes your talent. Ultimately, it feels good to be recognized, appreciated and wanted.
This article was originally published on sister site Commercial Integrator.