Risk Performance Strategies
June 2018

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Staffing Challenges Continue - With a New Twist


Having experienced and proper staffing levels is critical for the success of any firm and project. However, in a recent industry survey of design firms, 87% are having trouble filling positions within their organization.

30.7% - Somewhat difficult for all or some positions
30.6% - Very difficult for all or most positions
26.1% - Very difficult for all positions
12.6% - Not very difficult for all or most positions

Construction Expenditures

On average construction expenditures grew four point five percent (4.5%) in 2017 and expected to increase across all segments to five percent (5%) in 2018. Certain segments such as single family residential are estimated to grow by nine percent (9%) and residential, commercial, office projects by an average of six percent (6%).

Unemployment and Salary

With the US economy experiencing its lowest unemployment rate in 17 years, it is making finding qualified candidates even more challenging for firms. According to an industry survey conducted by Career Builder, 80% plan to hire college graduates this year, up from 74% in 2017.

This demand is pushing salaries higher. According to Michigan State University’s Collegiate Employment Research Institute, 40% plan to increase starting salaries, 13% will offer signing bonuses, and 21% will offer performance bonuses. Engineering graduates are in very high demand - obtaining the highest starting salary of all majors. The National Association of Colleges and Employers projects the average salary with bachelor’s degrees in engineering will be $66,521. The average salary for new graduates with master’s degrees in engineering is projected to be $75,481.

Hiring’s New Twist

Work forces continue to change, and with that hiring practices need to evolve to be consistent with those changes. Candidate’s today should no only be evaluated on their technical abilities, and intellectual achievements, but also on their emotional intelligence. An alarming numbers of new hires across all market segments are having trouble with new hires. Based on a survey by Leadership IQ, the top reasons new hires fail:

26% - Inability to accept feedback
23% - Unable to handle emotions
17% - Lack of motivation
15% - Poor temperament
11% - Lack of technical skills
8%   - Other

Emotional Intelligence

According to a survey conducted by OfficeTeam, 30% of human resources managers believe organizations place little emphasis on the emotional intelligence of prospects during the hiring process, focusing primarily on education and technical skills. In discussions with references and interviews with candidates, inquires should be made into how applicants have handled situations involving successes, and failures, frustrations as well as when they have received negative feedback from managers or others.

Methods for measuring emotional intelligence include specific behavioral based questions in the interview process, and personality, psychometric tests. The more probing that is conducted into these emotional situations with candidates - the changes of making a more informed and smarter hiring decision dramatically increases.

Assessment of Staffing and Project Capabilities

Accepting any project before doing a comparative assessment of capabilities creates significantly higher risk for a firm. Many firms get excited about starting a new project, and neglect accurately accessing their current capabilities in supporting the effort and services needed for the project. Every firm has strengths, and limitations that continue to change based on current project demands, staffing levels and expertise. The following is not a complete list, however the following are a few questions that should be considered when assessing your firms capabilities:

  • Does the firm have the experience and skills for this project type? 
  • If the firm has worked on a similar project, was it successful? 
  • If not, have the necessary changes been made to be successful? Does the firm have sufficient staff including a project manager to support the project effort from design through the construction phase? 

When developing business goals and objectives each year, it is important to assess the firm’s current capabilities as well as the needs to meet the future business, project needs, goals and objectives.


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Thank you. 

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Risk Performance Strategies

SmartRisk is a leading risk and performance management consultancy for design and construction professionals. Through firm specific risk assessments, training and consulting, services focus on improving overall performance, profitability and reducing insurance costs through tailored risk management solutions.

If you have any questions about our services, or would like dicusss how we could assist your efforts, please contact us.

Thank you,

Timothy J. Corbett, BSRM, MSM, CERG, LEED GA
Founder & President

Copyright and Information Only. This newsletter is for information purposes only and should not be construed nor relied upon as guidance, regulatory or legal advice. Readers should consult with appropriate counsel regarding their specific situations and circumstances. SmartRisk shall not be liable for any errors in content, or for any actions taken in reliance thereon.

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