Freelancers and Independent Contractors Beware: Build Back Better Vows to Impose the PRO Act Which Threatens Your Livelihood
The freedom to work as a freelancer or independent contractor provides flexibility for households and vibrancy to the American economy. It is tailor-made for architecture and design practices and the freelance architects seeking to fill the peaks and valleys standard in architecture practices.
The PRO Act bans Right to Work laws nationwide. Still, it also imposes the same independent contractor/freelancer-destroying policies of California’s AB5 law, which has destroyed countless lives and driven people out of the Golden State.
Freelancers and independent contractors want to be their bosses. AB5 and the PRO Act dictate they must have a boss. Households need greater flexibility than ever after the changes brought about by COVID in the workplace.
I have been fighting my whole professional career for the right to freelance and become an independent contractor. We need to rally the political wing of the AIA.org and ask their Advocacy group to engage and lobby against this provision of the Build Back Better bill.
Act Now Contact Sarah Dodge, AIA, Senior Vice-President of Advocacy & Relationships, and ask her to put the full force of the AIA’s advocacy group behind removing the AB5 provision out of Build Back Better!
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In our third installment of Archinect’s Guide to Job Titles series, we attempt to tackle the nuanced role of the Studio Director without falling back on search engines like Google and Bing or job boards like Glassdoor, Indeed, Monster, or Ladders [not in original article]. As with most positions within architecture firms, the lines are quite blurry when it comes to the role of Studio Director. For some, this leadership position acts as a kind of operations specialist and strategist while also functioning as a firmwide design leader. For others, the Studio Director might function as a buffer between design teams and the higher-level leadership of an organization. And for others still, this individual might run their studio as a kind of “mini-firm” within a larger firm, responsible for their own business development, hiring, project management, and overall growth. The intricacies and variations associated with such a dynamic posting can’t be explained exhaustively, there will always be some deviation. Nevertheless, what follows is our attempt to capture the inherent essence of this career path in architecture.
Architecture firms come in many forms. Depending on size, the internal structure of the personnel will differ. Some firms might operate in a departmental structure, where each team works on a specific phase of a project: a design “department” might work on the programming and schematic phases before passing the work on to a technical department that would realize the construction documentation. Others might have various project teams, each with its own project managers who are overseen by a Studio Director or Principal(s). And others still might divide into multiple studios, each with a specific function, and led by their own Studio Director, respectively. In this structure, each Studio Director would report to a Managing Principal, Design Principal, or both. Some Studio Directors may even be partners of the firm or Principals themselves. When it comes to the possible organizational structures of design firms, the variations are many.
While the interpretation of the role will differ from office to office, a Studio Director will typically oversee a studio. This may be a single studio under one roof, with a small or medium-sized staff, separated into smaller teams, each with a project architect/project manager, a job captain, and designers. Each team leader could report to a Studio Director who then might report to or collaborate with a higher-level leadership team, such as a firm’s Principal(s).
A studio could also be one of many within a larger firm, each with an expertise focus such as hospitality, healthcare, sports, workplace, restoration, or interiors. Each Studio Director would have specialized knowledge and experience in their area of expertise. In this model, studios might operate under the umbrella of a larger firm but would function as its own “sub-firm,” having its own clients, staff, and sometimes even its own receptionist. These “studio structures” can vary widely, and the nuances will depend on the organization in question.
A Studio Director Needs to be a People Person
In Archinect’s Growing Leadership and Practice: Laney LA’s Search for a Studio Director, we dove deep into conversation with Anthony Laney of Laney LA about his search for a Studio Director. “On day one, five project managers, each with their own team of one to two aspiring architects, will report to the Studio Director,” Laney told Archinect. “So, in total, the Studio Director will be leading a team of about 14 people. Right now, I’m giving about 30 percent of my time to a Studio Director role. We want to tear the lid off of that and allow someone to give it 100 percent of their time.” Here we have the leader of a relatively medium-sized firm in need of a Studio Director to act as a point person between him and his project managers. Laney saw this as someone who was not only in love with design, but who also had a deep passion for creating and building a great team.
People skills are 80 percent of the job, probably more…
Archinect also spoke with Lindsay Green, Principal and Studio Director at OFFICEUNTITLED, and Shawn Gehle, Principal and Co-Founder. On the topic of managing a team and dealing with different kinds of people, the pair elaborated further. “People skills are 80 percent of the job, probably more,” they said. “You have to deal with multiple personalities every day. Happy people; sad people; staff; clients; personal issues amongst the team.” They went on to articulate the expansive role a Studio Director might have within an office. In addition to effectively managing people, a leader in this role might also take on responsibilities of reviewing the office’s backlog and ensuring future staffing needs are fulfilled, overall professional development and client management, internal development of team members, human resources, and finance. “We really rely on Lindsay to run this office, we look to her to understand our overall health and outlook,” Gehle said of Green. “She acts as a kind of Chief Operations Officer, shepherding the resources within the office.”
A Strong Business Acumen
Green’s role goes far beyond that of the traditional project manager or project architect, but rises further into rigorous strategic planning and execution, calling for business acumen and facility not typical in architects. “I think if someone is considering this role as something to work towards in their career, they should consider getting an MBA. Understanding business is crucial in this position,” Green elaborated. “And even after that, it’ll take on-the-job experience to establish an understanding of how firms operate.”
Where before one’s core preoccupation might have been client satisfaction, design quality, timely deliverables, and internal team health, the focus now expands to a broader higher level concentration dealing with the business, strategic, and developmental aspects of the organization as a whole. Yes, project teams are concerned with these aspects, but on a fundamentally different level. They have a responsibility for their projects, whereas a Studio Director’s daily duties directly deal with the trajectory and direction of the bigger picture, moving beyond a partial focus to a comprehensive one.
What are firms looking for?
So what are firms looking for in a Studio Director? Take Gensler, a corporation based around a “collaborative studio leadership model.” Each studio has a specialty and is led by a highly experienced Studio Director, who oversees everything from overall management of the team and projects to the finances and budget. They work closely with staff in both professional development and mentorship as well as hiring in collaboration with HR. Studio Directors at Gensler are responsible for marketing, developing new business, and responding to RFPs, along with several other high-level responsibilities. According to Gensler, those pursuing this role should have a minimum of 15 years of experience and have a proven record in their area of focus. Moreover, Studio Directors at Gensler should possess a comprehensive personal portfolio of work, illustrating their aptitude and understanding of their expertise. Essentially, Studio Directors are leaders of their own small firm within the larger organization that is Gensler.
A Multi-Disciplined Leader
In the end, Studio Directors are multi-disciplined leaders with a depth of experience that allows them to lead a team of professionals of varying experience levels. They operate on multiple fronts, some of which include business functions such as staff development, hiring, strategic planning, finances, as well as traditional functions like QAQC, guiding design quality, and managing clients and projects. The possibilities appear broad and wide-ranging, but we’ve learned that business acumen is crucial, people skills are essential, and a deep understanding of the traditional functions of the architect, indispensable.
Author – Sean Joyner is an architect-trained writer and editor at Archinect. His articles and essays utilize themes in history, philosophy, and psychology to explore lessons for students and professionals within the fields of architecture and design. Sean’s work prior to Archinect focused primarily on k-12 and higher education projects in Southern California. Some of the things Sean enjoys are playing and practicing chess, studying obscure topics like quantum physics and cryptography, working out, and reading compelling books.
Even though Atlanta is home to countless high-paying careers, architects are among the top 50 best-paid. Architectural managers even crack the top 20, alongside lawyers, several doctors, and even physicists.
Of course, Atlanta also has an impressive history of hosting incredible buildings from a number of different styles, so you won’t be lacking for inspiration. That said, you won’t be lacking for competition, either. Atlanta is home to a few award-winning architects, though that also means plenty of impressive firms looking for new talent.
2. West Palm Beach, Florida
Located about an hour-and-a-half north of Miami, West Palm Beach has plenty going for it aside from the incredible weather. On average, the highest-paid architects in the country call West Palm Beach home. That average salary is an impressive $120,380 a year. Florida does not have a State income tax either.
The city is also full of architecture firms – well over three dozen of them – so you shouldn’t have too much trouble beginning your job search.
For our third spot on the list, we head north to the Windy City. Chicago’s history as a city of architectural wonders probably began in 1893 during the World’s Fair. It debuted the first ever Ferris Wheel but also brought in some of the time’s most prominent architects to contribute their talents.
Work with Experts Who Specialize in Launching Architecture Careers
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At Consulting For Architects, we specialize in both project placement and permanent placement for professionals who are dedicated to pursuing successful architecture careers. If you’d like the help of an experienced team of experts, please feel free to contact us today.
When I read an article titled “People are ‘ghosting’ at work, and it’s driving companies crazy” by Chip Cutter, LinkedIn Editor at Large, I flipped out because it is so true and it should be an eye-opener to hiring firms. I have added my own pointers as well.
Gone are the days where architects are waiting around for a phone call from a potential employer. In fact, it is the opposite. Candidates receive two, sometimes three offers of employment in a week’s time.
Excerpts from Chip’s article below:
Where once it was companies ignoring job applicants or snubbing candidates after interviews, the world has flipped. Candidates agree to job interviews and fail to show up, never saying more. Some accept jobs, only to not appear for the first day of work, no reason given, of course. Instead of formally quitting, enduring a potentially awkward conversation with a manager, some employees leave and never return. Bosses realize they’ve quit only after a series of unsuccessful attempts to reach them. The hiring process begins anew.
Among younger generations, ghosting has “almost become a new vocabulary” in which “no response is a response,” says Amanda Bradford, CEO and founder of The League, a dating app. Now, “that same behavior is happening in the job market,” says Bradford, who’s experienced it with engineering [architecture and design] candidates who ghosted her company.
Some of the behavior may stem not from malice, but inexperience. Professionals who entered the workforce a decade ago, during the height of the Great Recession, have never encountered a job market this strong. The unemployment rate is at an 18-year low. More open jobs exist than unemployed workers, the first time that’s happened since the Labor Dept. began keeping such records in 2000. The rate of professionals quitting their jobs hit a record level in March; among those who left their companies, almost two thirds voluntarily quit. Presented with multiple opportunities, professionals face a task some have rarely practiced: saying no to jobs.
“Candidates are winding up with multiple offers, and you can’t accept them all,” says Dawn Fay, district president at Robert Half International in New York. “Individuals just inherently don’t like conflict or disappointing people.”
Thus, ghosts. Interviews with more than a dozen hiring managers and recruiters across the U.S. suggest the practice is on the rise, forcing companies to rethink how they operate. END.
Top 6 changes hiring firms must make to compete for top talent:
1. Everyone wants Revit proficiency. Guess what; there is a major shortage. If the candidate meets most of your other requirements, then, intensive on-the-job Revit training is needed. Particularly, if they have AutoCAD or ArchiCAD skills.
2. If you believe the candidate has 85-90% of the skillset your job description requires, grab that candidate and don’t look back! How many people are currently employed at your firm that did not have all the skills they have now? Play the long game.
3. Do not prolong the process from receiving the resume, scheduling an interview and making an offer. Or else, a competitor will scoop the candidates right out from under you.
4. Cut down on the long hours. The trend has been Work/Life Balance, and it starts with more personal time. If you had a choice, would you pick a firm with a 60-hour work week or 40-hour work week. Not only do your employees burn out, their salaries are totally diluted.
5. The main motivators in switching firms are better compensation, growth potential, better corporate fit, recognition of skillset, better management and more interesting projects.
6. If you are designing single-family homes and the candidate has an array of educational projects, the tendency is to reject the candidate out of hand. But, the less flexible you are, the smaller the talent pool becomes. Why not give the candidate a chance? Mentor h/her; a good architect can learn new building types. And besides, architects do not want to be pigeon-holed. They want new career opportunities. And besides architects do not want to be pigeon-holed. They want new career opportunities.
Not made these fundamental changes? Then you are losing top talent to your competitors.
No matter what you hope your destination will be, if you want to make a career out of architecture, it’s going to start with an entry-level job.
While that may not seem quite as exciting as your long-term goal, entry-level architecture jobs have a lot of potential if you know exactly how to approach them.
4 Ways to Make the Most Out of Entry-Level Architecture Jobs
Finding out you’ve been hired for your first architecture job is an absolutely incredible feeling.
However, don’t forget about the following four ways people have successfully taken full advantage of their entry level-architecture jobs, so you can make the most of this opportunity.
1. Consider the City the Job Is In
If you’re still applying for jobs, be sure to consider which city those jobs are in. Ideally, you want it to be a great city for architects, so you’ll be surrounded by opportunities.
That said, no matter where it is, brush up on your networking skills. This will help you on the job (more on that in a minute), but it will also go a long way toward helping you eventually find an even better role if you use these skills within your local industry.
Look for every opportunity in your entry-level role to sharpen these skills and the road ahead of you will become much easier.
3. Come Up with a 90-Day Plan
Every entry-level employee should come up with a 90-day plan to hit the ground running. This is especially true in architecture, though. You should also have a plan for the first week and the first month.
For example, during your first week, meet everyone on your team, department, or inside the entire firm, depending on its size. Become 100% clear on what your responsibilities are, too.
Over the first 30 days, finish meeting everyone if you haven’t already. Make it a point to ask at least one question a day, provided you genuinely don’t know the answer and you’re not slowing down your coworkers. It’s vital that you learn as much as possible.
During the first 90 days, you should look for a “mentor.” This doesn’t have to be an official capacity, but get a sense for whom – aside from your boss – you can learn the most from and keep asking them questions.
Of course, if they ever need help, go out of your way to repay their kindness.
Want Help Finding the Best Entry-Level Architecture Jobs?
As you can see, entry-level architecture jobs can be so much more than just an opportunity to get your foot in the door.
When you take the right approach, they can become a real launching point for the rest of your career. You may even be surprised to find just how quickly the above advice can bring you to your next step.
Of course, long before that happens, you need to land that first position. That’s where we come in. At Consulting For Architects, Inc. we’ve helped people just like you land their first jobs. Contact us today and let’s talk about how we can help you with your specific goals.
It probably feels pretty amazing to have that degree.
Of course, the longer you go without using it, the more that degree is going to become an irritating reminder. So, let’s look at four of the best architecture careers you can start pursuing right away.
The 4 Best Architecture Related Careers to Get Started in Right Now
The field of architecture is at least as broad as it is old. As such, it’s probably fair to say that there are countless architecture careers out there for you to consider.
However, the following four fields will give you plenty of diverse options beyond the traditional versions. Best of all, each features plenty of job openings throughout the country.
Landscape architects are responsible for planning and creating landscapes, which can include manmade features, as well. Oftentimes, landscape architects need to collaborate with others, so that their creations complement buildings that will share the same environment (and vice versa).
This career may also involve the long-term care of the landscape, as well. This is when a talent for the natural sciences is very helpful.
As a huge part of this field involves the buildings in urban environments, it requires an architect who’s able to take the resources available (including money and space) and make the most of them. An architect who becomes proficient at this will never be long without work.
Architecture is such a massive industry that it requires an equally impressive army of journalists. Unfortunately, most journalists don’t have a very good understanding of architecture. They might be able to cover the topic for those outside the industry, but their lack of knowledge wouldn’t go unnoticed by those who depend on a high-level expertise for a living.
Finally, if you have a passion for history and architecture, you will be uniquely qualified to become an architectural historian.
In short, as an architectural historian, your job will involve advising restoration projects aimed at buildings of historical significance. This often involves researching the building to better understand the materials and methods that were used to build it.
Want an Expert’s Help Considering Architecture Careers?
While we hope that the above list of possible architecture careers is helpful, we know that this decision is a big one and you may want some help with it.
At Consulting For Architects, Inc. Careers we’ve helped recent graduates just like you with this important next step, ensuring that they find jobs which fall in line with their interests and career goals. Contact us today at (212) 532-4360 or [email protected] to learn more about how we can help you do the exact same thing.
Visit our Booth on the 1st Floor #4315 June 21-23 New York City – Jacob Javits center
Get ready for three immersive days of what’s new and now in architecture and design, hosted in one of the most iconic cities in the world. At A’18, some of the most creative architects, designers, and firms will share how they’re creating their own blueprint and making a difference in cities of every size all over the world. Find us on google.
Green means green for architects that make a serious investment in green architecture and sustainability. When the recession hit in 2007, the housing and real estate markets were hugely impacted. Jobs in architecture became scarce, and architects started getting laid off in droves. Though there’s been an increase since 2010 in positions in this arena, the sector still struggles to maintain a steady increase in available gigs. According to SimplyHired, since July of 2013, there’s been a 24.4% increase in employment in Los Angeles and 34.4% in New York, so things are looking brighter. In fact, the green or sustainable architect is experiencing a major increase in work, with positions in both cities at an all time high because of the growth of the green economy.
There’s really no set rule for who can dub themselves green architects, but the program responsible for verifying green buildings is LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design). It gives points to projects based on their utilization of sustainable components. However, LEED doesn’t give awards to projects for performance, so there are other available options for certification: the Living Buildings Challenge, Passive House Institute, Green Globes and the government’s Energy Star Program all provide certification based on green standards.
In major metropolises like New York and Los Angeles, the green economy is growing. The public’s demand for green construction is due to its growing awareness of the dangers of climate change. While the green movement is considered “chic,” architects are expanding their views by combating climate change not only with their building designs but by constructing the bigger systems in which they function.
“We think of great design as having four equally important parts: ethical practice, experiential design, thoughtful impact, and excellent delivery. Included in ethical practice is sustainability and the idea that you can’t create great design without it. This translates into our everyday office operations in many big and small ways. The really exciting sustainable operations are yet to come in our new office!” Irwin Miller, Los Angeles, Principal Design Director, Gensler .
In 2011, the BLS (Bureau of Labor Statistics) listed the mean wage for a green architect as $83,390 – about $30,000 more than a residential architect. The BLS also predicts faster-than-average growth for architects until 2020, with green architects in particularly high demand.
Architecture is about designing structures. Green architecture goes one step further by altering structures so that they can contribute to the well-being of the environment. Some architecture firms are green firms not only because they specialize in this type of building, but because they incorporate the green philosophy into how they operate.
Baby boomers are retiring in record numbers, and their millennial replacements are very different in terms of personal characteristics, as well as job and workplace expectations. Millennials, aged 18 to 34 years old, already makeup more than one-third of the workforce. By 2025, they will account for close to 75 percent. Architecture firms are now in an intense competition to attract and retain qualified millennial professionals. Understanding the millennial perspective and developing a suitable workplace environment are imperatives for business sustainability.
Characteristics of Millennials
Millennials are one of the most analyzed generations because of their complexity. They are the first generation of digital natives, and technology has enormously influenced their expectations. For example, they are driven by a need for social connectedness and have integrated technology deeply into their personal lives. As such, they now expect the same in their work lives. CISCO calls it the “new workplace currency,” since 56 percent of college students surveyed said they would not accept a position at a company that banned access to social media.
Millennials have high expectations. They want higher pay based on skills sets and faster promotions. They believe the firm should provide appropriate leadership development and have values that match their own. If the business fails to meet these expectations, the employee will leave. Millennials are not interested in plugging along doing eight hours of mundane routine work they see as having little social impact. They want to do meaningful work that is clearly connected to solving complex societal problems.
Millennials are optimistic about the future and are a diverse generation, with over 44 percent identifying with an ethnic group or a minority race, according to theU.S. Census Bureau. They are content creators, thriving on collaboration. They also want work-life balance, which for the millennial may mean using remote-work technology. A 2015 CISCO survey found that over half of Gen Y (millennials) and Gen X (generation sandwiched between baby boomers and millennials) consider themselves accessible for work 24/7.
Perhaps the most important characteristic to understand is that millennials want to work for companies that reflect their personal values. A Deloitte survey found that 56 percent of millennials had ruled out working for an employer because their values were in conflict. This is perhaps one of the most difficult concepts for traditional organizations to master.
Why are You Leaving?
Understanding the top reasons millennials change jobs provides a knowledgeable foundation for developing recruiting and retention strategies. Consulting for Architects, Inc. (CFA) conducted a survey which asked architecture and design firms to rank, in descending order of importance, the reasons employees aged 18 to 35 years old left their firms. The results are revealing and support much of the academic and business research and studies conducted over the years to identify millennial characteristics.
Ranking number one in the CFA survey as the top reason for millennial turnover is concern about the lack of opportunities for career advancement. Number two is a desire for more challenging work. Number three is dissatisfaction with the leadership of senior management. Number four is disagreement with the overall direction of the organization. Number five is dissatisfaction with the compensation and benefits. Number six is unhappiness with the amount and/or type of rewards and level of recognition for contributions to the firm. Number seven is a desire to seek a better work/life balance.
It is not surprising the leadership of senior management ranks high because these are the people most responsible for the firm policies and procedures, business culture, and talent management system. Since many of the senior leaders are baby boomers, there is a generational difference in attitudes towards work, career, and the need for employee recognition. Baby boomer architects and designers spent many years doing low-level assignments, putting in many hours without regard for work/life balance. The rewards were the work itself and steady career advancement, and for some, reaching a point where it was possible to start a new business. Now baby boomers are managing organizations in which millennials already comprise or will soon comprise most of the workforce, and the younger generation wants change.
A good example of the generational difference is found in a blog written by a millennial architect. The title says it all – “Millennial Architect Won’t be Your CAD Monkey.” There have been other surveys conducted, and they support the CFA survey results and the need for senior leaders to adapt the work environment to meet the needs of the millennials. A 2012 survey, for example, found that millennials expected to stay in their jobs for less than five years.
The strategies for attracting and recruiting millennials specifically address their characteristics and the top reasons they leave architecture firms . First, it is important to develop a workplace culture that nurtures the millennial spirit and makes young architects believe this would be the best place to work. The culture must embrace diversity and cherish the organization’s brand and reputation. For instance, since millennials always check social networks for information, potential employers should take into consideration what current employees, clients and communities are saying about the company. Every architectural firm should regularly monitor and manage the online conversation concerning the organization. The online conversation coupled with the marketing strategies needs to demonstrate the architecture firm’s mission, values, ethics and beliefs, so that recruits will see that their personal values align with the organization’s values.
Technology plays a critical role in other respects. Video interviews can showcase an architecture firm as a progressive and flexible culture, and can often provide distinct advantages to both the firm and the interviewee. For the millennial, video interviews are also more convenient, as they get an opportunity to show their true character instead of only what is on the resume.
For the architecture firm, video interviewing saves time and money because the cost is much less compared to in-person interviews. It makes the hiring process quicker while also giving the interviewer an opportunity to explore facets of the person’s personality traits, something not possible with a written resume. Overall, video interviewing fits a modern workforce expecting efficient use of technology, flexibility and a willingness to collaborate for mutual benefit.
Other recruiting tools include developing a good pay and benefits package, supplemented with the presentation of career path opportunities that demonstrate potential upward mobility. Millennials who see a position as dead-end will either refuse a position or will accept the position only as a stepping stone for obtaining licensing.
Millennials have been described as “children of the revolution.” The “revolution” is a shift in individual perspectives to a focus on the needs of the community. Millennials want to do meaningful work centered on people; therefore, one of the most critical retention strategies is developing work with these attributes. Tasks must allow them opportunities to work on projects that make a social impact, like environmental sustainability renovations, low-income housing solutions and disaster relief architecture.
The type of projects offered will influence the turnover rate. Research indicates that 91 percent of millennials expect to stay in a job for less than three years if the work is not challenging. They are entrepreneurial and will leave a boring job to start a new business in order to meet personal goals.
Architecture firms must rethink everything from work schedules to leadership training. Strategies include allowing flexible work that lets employees work within a loosely structured schedule. The 9-to-5 schedule is out. One of the ways personal and organizational values are integrated is by allowing employees time to take care of personal needs, like family or community projects. Ideally, the flexible schedule is coupled with the right to work remotely. They are as likely to be found reading and responding to work emails at 9 p.m. as they are at 9 a.m.
Professional development is also crucial. In the Deloitte survey mentioned earlier, six out of 10 millennials believe their companies do not fully develop their leadership skills. Yet, this is one of the most prized activities determining business value. Skills development involves a variety of activities, including training software, mentoring and collaborative teamwork. Millennials need and want a lot of support that encourages them to pursue leadership roles on teams, as well as over projects and departments.
Overhauling Business As Usual
Attracting, hiring and retaining millennials requires a complete overhaul of “business as usual.” All aspects of the talent management process should be viewed through the millennial lens with the ultimate goal of building a loyal, innovative workforce. Admittedly, the current disconnect between millennial expectations and the traditional architecture firm’s work structure is wide, so now is the time to begin making required changes. No one ever said it would be easy to move into the future – a future that is here now.