SA Practice Managers Lunch 2023
On 28 September 2023, the SA Practice Managers Lunch featured Anna Roussos from ROUSSOS Recruitment, who presented the topic, Understanding Today’s Top Talent: What They Seek and the Future of Architecture Jobs in 2023. Anna has shared the following summary of her insights.
The profession is currently experiencing a talent shortage. Though the market is a little quieter than it was 12 months ago, we are still feeling the pressure of finding the right talent for our client partners. The following is some insights and observations around employer frustrations, requirements of top talent, strategies to attract top talent and how I see the next 12 months.
COMMON FRUSTRATIONS FROM EMPLOYERS/BUSINESS
- The increased demand of flexibility: Working From Home, being less pushed, lack of communication and transparency often resulting in decreased productivity
- Managing expectations around salaries: For most roles we have seen increases in salaries from $10–15k. The average salary for project leader pre Covid was $85k–$95k and is now $100k–$110k. For 50% of the roles we have placed over the past 12 months, the salaries have been over $100k.
- Availability of talent and quality talent: There is an increased competitiveness among employers, with Seek reporting a 60% increase in ads in Adelaide pre Covid, but a reduction in candidates applying. Job ads over the past year have decreased by 20% but candidate flow still isn’t increasing.
- Generational challenges: Turning up on time, communication, not resilient when it comes to receiving feedback, lack of growth mindset.
- Unmotivated/lack of engagement. It’s almost like people are losing the passion and motivation.
- Losing key people: feels like it has become more of a transaction, not so focused on loyalty.
- Struggling to support people through mental illnesses, which is hurting productivity and disruptive across the business.
- Managing expectations around job title changes: What is the profile of today’s top talent?
Organisations are seeking experienced people with an in-depth knowledge. In Architecture, the demand is typically for someone with around 5–8 years’ experience. A significant portion of roles registered are Project Architects, or Senior Interiors. Considering how small the market is, in the last three months we have seen an increase in landscape architecture in SA. And finally, the top talent we are seeking are individuals who can drive a process and be client facing.
WHAT IS TALENT LOOKING FOR?
- Top talent is drawn to workplaces that promote a positive, supportive and inclusive culture.
- There has been a lot of talk around wellbeing in the workplace and to me, wellbeing at work is how their workplace makes them feel when they are there.
- One of the main reasons that people have left employment in the last 12 months is the lack of career development.
- Overall, a lot of people we interview are still very confused as to what they think will make them happy. A lot of talent just seem overall unhappy, but sometimes I feel there is a lack of gratitude from many people in the industry. Out of all the disciplines I recruit within, the talent in this space just seems a lot more negative.
KEY THINGS EMPLOYEES ARE LOOKING FOR
1. Prioritise employee wellbeing by promoting work–life balance
The main thing here is that they want to be out of the office by 5pm or 5.30pm. They get sick of doing long hours. They want more support across projects and feel like some run very lean.
2. Provide opportunities for growth and development
Clearer pathways, structure, performance reviews and feedback. They want to know what success in the workplace looks like, playing to people’s strengths. Is there further training that can be provided, more mentoring, buddy work, networking?
3. Foster a sense of community and belonging
I feel overall that the Architecture industry does this quite well; however during Covid, a lot of the activities to build culture did drop off. I know that it can be quite busy, and although I feel I do a lot for my team in relation to building a tribe, sometimes I feel we don’t have enough time to just connect and talk about general life stuff. These conversations allow us to get to know each other and are what helps us connect further. There is a lot of power in vulnerability.
4. Provide opportunities for open communication and collaboration
People want to be more engaged in the day to day and are very driven across the why. This can be addressed by providing opportunities for open communication and collaboration. You could employ transparency and accountability around business goals and other management practices.
5. Encourage feedback and foster a growth mindset
We need to create environments that encourage feedback and foster a growth mindset. One of the main reasons that people have left over the 12 months is the lack of career advancement. But this is so interesting as some may want to move up, but they struggle to take on responsibility when it comes to it.
ATTRACTING TOP TALENT – THINGS TO THINK ABOUT
- What is your company’s brand proposition in the marketplace?
- What would be said about your business by people outside of it?
- What is the employee value proposition? What things are you doing to set you apart?
- Need to be proactive in the talent acquisition process. A lot of talent is recruited reactively, when someone has left and they need to be replaced. Sometime this sense of urgency can cause bad hires.
- What is the hiring process going to look like? Who is going to interview, what types of questions will we ask, will there be a second interview? Communicate the steps with the candidate. Don’t have the process too drawn out. Make sure the interview has a balance of you asking questions but giving them a good understanding of the organisation. You can miss out on talent if the process takes too long.
What does the next 12 months look like?
I feel the next 12 months will see consistent movement across the industry, with studios being a little more selective to ensure talent matches the cultural fit. I see a continued focus on strategic hires. I see movement with businesses perhaps looking to reduce staff numbers if individuals need further support, as there is a lack of experienced staff to mentor/bring people up to speed.
Anna Roussos is the Director and Founder of ROUSSOS Recruitment, which is a leader in the recruitment space for architecture in South Australia. ROUSSOS provides valuable advice and insight into navigating the architectural job market.