5 Ways to Appreciate Engineers (Without Breaking Your Piggy Bank)

By Jezabel Southard

Posted on May 8, 2015

The days of using the phrase “nontraditional benefits” to mean “we have a pool table in the break room” are over. Today, the approach to nontraditional benefits helps employers and employees alike to find a good “fit” and get the most productivity out of their professional relationship.

When you’re trying to attract great engineers, nontraditional benefits can go a long way – if they’re the right benefits. Engineers are focused, productive, creative people. They need space to do their best work, and they need to see that their expertise is taken seriously.

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How can nontraditional benefits help? By offering the right benefits, companies can attract top engineering talent without spending outside their hiring budgets. Here are five ways to do it:

  1. Structure engineers’ schedules to create “flow space.” Engineering is both a logical and a creative discipline. When it’s time to do their best work, engineers don’t multitask. Instead, they focus deeply, creating a “flow state” that allows their best work to flourish. Interruptions damage productivity and destroy morale. To attract better engineers, treat their “flow” as your top priority – and make it clear that your company does too.
  2. Consider flex-time options. “Flow” doesn’t start at 8 a.m. and it doesn’t end at 5 p.m. Many engineers who find themselves producing great work in a flow state will stay with it until the wee hours of the morning. These states can be extraordinarily productive, but they can also be exhausting if engineers who use them are then expected to show up bright and early to work a few hours later. Accommodating flow with flex time or telecommuting options shows engineers you value their best work and their continued productivity.
  3. Encourage learning. Many engineers overestimate their abilities, which means they may not factor in time for learning on a new project. Companies that do this, and that promote their engineers’ learning in more “traditional” contexts like classes or seminars, get better, more productive staff and help their teams make crucial deadlines.
  4. Value small, cohesive teams. It’s easy for managers to assume that throwing more engineers at a problem will solve it. In fact, simply adding more creative minds – especially minds that need to face a learning curve – often makes problems worse. Show engineers you appreciate how they work by fostering small, cohesive teams and giving them the time they need to learn and solve problems. Their work will be better, and your hiring budget won’t suffer from bringing on unneeded or poorly fitting talent.
  5. Say thank you. When a new product or software project is tested or launched, engineers see it as an accomplishment. Their work has finally reached a larger audience, and they’re proud. Unfortunately, a first launch always means finding unforeseen or unexpected problems. Be sure to temper the inevitable flood of “but this doesn’t work!” calls with a gesture of thanks. It doesn’t have to be expensive, but it must acknowledge the engineers’ hard work, be public, and come from the heart.

At TERRA Staffing, our recruiters help companies find engineers who bring both top-notch skills and a great cultural “fit” to the workplace. Contact us today to learn more about our staffing services in Phoenix, Seattle, and Portland.

Categories: HR and Management Advice

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