How to Retain Skilled Workers in a Changing Industry

Now more than ever, it’s becoming critically important to retain skilled workers in the rapidly changing pro-AV inudstry.

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The AV industry’s workforce isn’t getting much younger and new employees often don’t have the technical expertise in the niche industry to hit the ground running.

That’s why it’s critically important that AV integrators work hard to retain those key employees, especially as the industry goes through monumental change these days, like the convergence of AV and IT, IoT, a flurry of M&A activity and new emerging markets.

Are you in management of a larger firm that just made an acquisition? Are you rolling out new products or services? Perhaps you’re working with a new vendor.

According to NSCA’s recent webinar, “4 Key Strategies to Retain Top Talent During Times of Change,” it’s important to recognize the impact of change on skilled workers, engage employees throughout the process, understand the critical role of leadership during the transition and effectively communicate with employees.

Presented by Chelsea Wood, a psychologist and human capital consultant with human resources firm Insperity, the webinar is helpful for executives and managers when their firm goes through significant change.

Impact on skilled workers

Human capital should be one of the most valued aspects of any given company. As such, protecting and retaining those valuable, skilled workers should be essential.

However, change is a part of the business world, and managing that change can be difficult and lead to significant turnover and losing talented employees.

According to Wood, psychology is an important piece of this puzzle. Employees need a sense of belonging, security and autonomy. However, the mind doesn’t typically deal with change well, and often results in a knee-jerk reaction and an emotionally raw response.

That’s why it’s important to consider the impact of every employee when considering a major change like a merger, acquisition or a completely new way of doing things.

Engage employees

If one department’s day-to-day operations will be significantly affected by change, those employees should be directly engaged in the decision making process before, during and after the transition.

However, there are often unintended consequences of a big change. Maybe you didn’t foresee the HR or payroll implications of a merger or how a new offering or service could change the way your sales force operates.

To engage with employees, Wood suggests leveraging influencers and star employees to help lead the way and creating employee-led working groups to figure out just how the changes will be implemented.

It’s important that the employees play an active role in their day-to-day, so cut back on dictating and be more collaborative.

Leaders must be transparent and trustworthy

Ineffective leadership is not conducive to effective organizational change. According to Wood, leaders must be trustworthy, strategic thinkers, relationship-based, transparent, empathic and participative in order to foster successful change.

Wood used the example of a tech merger gone wrong in which a company acquired a smaller 12-employee software firm and promised minimal changes but ended up eliminating positions and closing an office. All of those acquired employees quit.

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At the beginning, the buying company held town halls and sent regular communication to keep employees in the loop, but that stopped once major changes came about.

Communication is key

According to Wood, that’s largely where the company erred. Effective communication is often and transparent. That includes things like town halls, newsletters, emails and an employee website that allows for two-way communication.

Organizations should share the entire picture, not just the benefits of the change. Are you changing vendors to save on price because revenues aren’t what they are? Employees should know that.

Is anyone being laid off after a merger or acquisition? Being honest about those changes could go a long way toward winning the respect and trust of your employees and help skilled employees stick around longer.