This is a guest blog by Leanna Michniuk
For engineering firms, a healthy culture that continues to evolve and adapt is the driving force for long-term company success. Positive work culture is linked to improved employee engagement, increased productivity, and higher profit margins. Simply put, happy employees equal happy clients and happy pockets.
Wait — clients, too? Yes! Client churn is directly tied to employee churn. Did you know it can be anywhere from five to 25 times more expensive to gain a new customer than retain an existing one? By making a concerted effort to focus on your employees, you’re in turn strengthening client relationships and retention. Clients may sign on for your engineering firm’s reputation or the strategy you propose to tackle their work, but the reason they stay goes beyond that. Clients like to know that their business and needs are fully understood. Consistency is key to building this trusting relationship between your staff and clients. If a client is constantly being shifted to a new team or staffer, it will always feel like a new firm to them.
How to Create a Positive Work Environment
Before making any abrupt changes to the way your organization is doing things, take a step back and assess how things have been going. You don’t want to fix what isn’t broken. So, what’s working? What’s not? What are your goals? After taking getting a temperature check on your current culture, you can begin implementing the following tips, adjusting where you see fit.
1. Get on the Same Page
Healthy firm culture is rooted in clarity and personal connection throughout your organization. When everyone is on the same page, behaviors and attitudes can become aligned. For example, when your project management and finance teams are aligned, decision-making and internal operations become more proactive. When forces are combined, the two teams can become important advocates for strong financial reporting and management processes.
2. Build Connections
Once your team is aligned and goals are transparent, building a connection becomes much easier. Whether it be sending out Slacks or taking a walk around the office to check in with people, it’s really important to intentionally have genuine relationships with your team to make one another feel valued. When your team feels connected, they’ll feel more comfortable sharing their ideas and do more than just the bare minimum to get by. These relationships can be strengthened through team outings, community service projects, the occasional happy hour, or other fun activities, with or without the leadership team.
3. Establish Core Values
Core values are the guiding principles and beliefs that drive a company’s culture and reflect the mission at large (they also contribute to firm growth and retention). Your core values should never be set in stone. As times change and your firm grows, it is critical to regularly assess and align your core values to your goals. Sit down with your leadership team as well as each department. The feedback of your team is invaluable. Use it! (Check out this guide for core values inspiration.)
4. Create Some Wiggle Room
Your employees have lives outside of work. It’s important to take into account sick days, mental health days, bereavement days, and other unexpected events. Keeping some open capacity is going to help you account for those lost days while also taking pressure off your team to meet their deadlines. In addition to keeping your staff less stressed, if you keep about 10-15% of your capacity open, then there’s some time to upsell your services or take on small last-minute add-ons.
5. Have Regular Check-Ins
Team leads should take the time to meet one-on-one with staffers consistently. This time can be used to go over project concerns, their personal utilization rate, discuss individual KPIs, and even just check in mentally. Establishing these health checks will help managers keep a pulse on workloads, preventing any pileups, unneeded stress, or a slip in client needs.
We hope that this advice will help improve your engineering firm’s culture and make it a positive one. Remember, when you focus on creating a healthy environment for your employees, you’ll reap the benefits of lasting client relationships, healthier bottom lines, top talent, and just overall great work. For more tips, check out this Guide to Creating & Maintaining Healthy Culture in Professional Services Firms.
About the Author
Leanna Michniuk is a content marketing specialist at BigTime Software, the leading professional services automation software. Creating relevant and applicable content for those in the professional services industry, Leanna is dedicated to creating work that helps boost efficiency in service organizations. BigTime is recognized as one of Inc. 5000’s Fastest-Growing Companies in America and G2’s Top 100 Software Companies list.
We would love to hear any questions you might have or stories you might share on maintaining a healthy culture at your engineering firm.
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To your success,
Anthony Fasano, PE, LEED AP
Engineering Management Institute
Author of Engineer Your Own Success