Construction firms invest in leadership programs

NEW ORLEANS Hiring may be down as the economy slows, but leading architecture, engineering and construction firms say theyre spending more to train their senior executives. Thats the word from Construction Executive, a career advancement and leadership development service company for executives employed in the A/E/C industry. Each year Construction Executive conducts a leadership survey with its members

NEW ORLEANS — Hiring may be down as the economy slows, but leading architecture, engineering and construction firms say they’re spending more to train their senior executives.

That’s the word from Construction Executive, a career advancement and leadership development service company for executives employed in the A/E/C industry.

Each year Construction Executive conducts a leadership survey with its members to identify trends and statistics for the A/E/C industry. The survey takes the form of questionnaires, online polls and interviews.

The firm concluded the 2002 edition of its survey in November, with 782 A/E/C firms indicating that spending on leadership development programs and “human capital services” — such as executive coaching — increased 6% over the last 12 months.

“This year (2002) we have seen more layoffs than hires, and a rise in investment of 6% for leadership development and human capital services such as executive retention, succession planning and executive coaching,” said Kevin Carney, marketing director for Construction Executive.

Spending on outplacement services rose by 15% due to the slow economy, and the reduction in outplacement costs made available through technology advances and Web-based, self-help solutions.

“Companies seemed to care more this year about assisting their employees who were unfortunately laid off,” Carney added. “Many of our clients were interested in providing career counseling and outplacement services because the economic and political challenges they faced together have taught them the value of the individual.”

Considering 2002’s economic and political turmoil, the survey generated several predictable results, such as an increase of 14% in executives who desired greater job security and improved quality of life at the workplace.

“Our executives took more personal time off this past year and seemed to push us for greater commitments in job security,” said an Atlanta contractor in the survey.

“We felt our executives deserved a well-needed break from the pressures and challenges they faced in the marketplace this year,” he added, “and we agreed to make some job and work-improvement commitments. “

Carney noted: “Many executives and employers focused this year on becoming more effective on the job through increased training and development and basically took time to regroup. Although most employers tightened their belts this year, 5% spent money improving executive retention and coaching of top talent. We found 48% of respondents did not offer any third-party leadership development programs, while over 72% believed they should offer this service to their executives and emerging leaders.”

Contractors continued through 2002 to focus on quality vs. quantity in job hires, with talent retention and leadership development the dominant themes throughout the year.

“The surprise this year is that leadership development and training is on the rise,” Carney said, “and we believe this upward trend will continue through 2003.”

Construction Executive provides executives an opportunity to obtain outplacement, self-assessment, career counseling services, executive marketing, post resumes, view jobs and get professional help with resume preparation. For more information, visit www.constructionexecutive.com.