The land surveying profession is struggling to find the talent it needs to meet skyrocketing demand. Revenue and growth opportunities are being lost for lack of qualified personnel and there's an ongoing debate about the root causes of workforce deficits that plague our industry. One thing most can agree on is that as a profession, we need to act decisively soon. Otherwise market forces will find their way around the ignored phone calls and 2-3 month backlogs common right now.
If you're operating a land surveying company right now, your success depends on the ability to attract and retain good employees. What's your strategy for doing that? If your approach is to rely on a competitive salary and traditional benefit plan with a few other perks thrown in, you're already at a disadvantage. Even Friday afternoon BBQs and gym memberships aren't enough. In our revved-up economy, employee expectations have never been higher. Chronic job-hopping is evidence that workers value more than just money. Job seekers crave an experience and workplace culture that satisfies on a deeper, more personal level.
As an example of the types of creative benefits that attract new employees and keep them, I'll talk about the company I work for, Interstate Survey Group (www.interstatesurveygroup.com). Interstate Survey Group (ISG) started operations at the beginning of 2020, right before the pandemic took off. Without a foundation of clients and unable to offer any traditional employment benefits, ISG needed something to offer prospective employees. After all, we were competing with companies that provided traditional benefits and a backlog of work.
So we got creative. Instead of focusing on what we couldn't offer, we focused on what we could. For many months prior, we discussed and formed the foundation of a culture or "ecosystem" that put employees first and gave them a serious voice in the direction and operation of the company. The ISG ecosystem was a very attractive benefit that ultimately became an effective recruiting tool. It all begins with access. The company founder and leader, Brad Laman, PLS, has an open-door policy that makes it comfortable for any employee to introduce and discuss any topic with him, whether it's personal or professional. Brad initiates many conversations himself that signal to employees that it's safe to ask any question or bring any concerns or ideas they may have. This translates to a whole new world of possibilities for them as they test and discover what true freedom in the workplace really means. ISG employees enjoy being part of a like-minded surveying community that provides an abundance of support that helps them succeed and reach personal and professional goals. Mixed in this equation is also an abundance of patience, empathy, freedom and trust. These may seem like vague intangibles or "pie in the sky" to some, but the response has been very positive. Every member of the team has expressed joy from being part of something bigger than themselves that they want to grow with. A Glassdoor study reported that nearly four out of five employees (79%) would prefer new or additional benefits as opposed to a pay raise. That tells me money is not the prime motivator and that there are benefits employees hunger for that aren't commonly offered. I believe ISG has begun to take the curtain off employment benefits that can really move the needle in terms of competitive advantage at hiring time. And most of those creative benefits indirectly translate to increased revenue. Sometimes the best things in life actually are free. John Rogers