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Turnover rate of young professionals

  • 1.  Turnover rate of young professionals

    Posted 03-20-2017 12:49 PM
    I work for a State DOT, and my office has fewer young professionals then in years past due to budget cuts and the lack of competitive salaries. Quite often those that we do hire gain enough experience to sit and pass the P.E., and then quickly accept another position outside of the agency and leave. What questions can be posed during the interview process that would help identify individuals more likely to stay with the agency past the attainment of the P.E.?

    Aaron Frits P.E., ENV SP, M.ASCE
    Road Design Leader
    Lawrence KS

  • 2.  RE: Turnover rate of young professionals

    Posted 03-21-2017 01:16 PM
    dear the problem you discussed is the retention issue of your employees.for this you must adopt some strategies to engage them within your organization.
    according to different researches most important factor is career opportunities/development...if you have some layers in your company after some years work someone can get then its good.
    second feel your employees some feeling of meaningfulness mean they think their work has some recognition .
    third HR department should be friendly
    the fourth one your pay structures should be competitive within the market like the other companies in your field of business.
    the last one decrease the communication gap.value peoples first then their work.its natural we first value work but dont show them just respect their work in shape of some rewards....
    so this is from my side.
    Bilal Anwar

    Bilal Anwar S.M.ASCE
    861566 4889412

  • 3.  RE: Turnover rate of young professionals

    Posted 03-21-2017 01:16 PM
    Retaining young professionals is a common challenge in both public and private organizations.  The question that seems most fruitful to ask is "how do I retain young professionals past their PE?"  The answer to that will never be just one thing, but likely includes multiple things for each recruit.  The list most commonly includes job satisfaction, continued training/education (investment in and care for them as individuals), a challenging and intellectually stimulating job, clear growth potential, and to some degree compensation.  I would encourage anyone interested in retaining more young professionals to start asking those young professionals - both at their interview and continually after it - what they view as important characteristics to a fulfilling job.  It's important to ask continually because young professionals just coming out of school don't have a firm grasp on what's important to them in a job, so their answers will change and employers need to be aware of those changes.  And once you find common answers to that question, find a way to make those things happen!  It's not easy but it's worth it.

    Christopher Sunde A.M.ASCE
    Charlotte NC
    (704) 965-1623

  • 4.  RE: Turnover rate of young professionals

    Posted 03-21-2017 01:17 PM


    I don't think there's any realistic way of knowing what a young engineer intends to do years after being hired. More often than not their goals will change. However, I remember as a young engineer being interviewed by a state environmental agency for a dam safety position. One of the questions I was asked by the hiring manager was, "where do you see yourself being 10 - 15 years from now"? I suppose it did give him a clue as to whether my long term career goals were aligned with the agency. You may find similar questions helpful.

    Before I took the PE exam, I later had another supervisor who indicated that, when he was a young engineer, getting a PE license was good for a 10% raise the day it was obtained. While this may often be true in the private sector, many government agencies don't offer such an incentive. The newly licensed engineer finds that he/she has to move on to get the higher pay and greater responsibilities that should go with the license. Maybe this partially explains the trend you're seeing.

    Mark Wilsnack P.E., D.WRE, F.EWRI, F.ASCE
    South Florida Water Management District
    West Palm Beach FL

  • 5.  RE: Turnover rate of young professionals

    Posted 03-21-2017 01:18 PM
    It seems quite difficult to ascertain a young college graduate's intentions four years down the road during an interview.  Perhaps an easier and better angle might be to determine what the State DOT can do to retain good talent beyond a young engineer's  obtaining his or her license.  Changing pay scales and benefits may  be difficult for a State DOT, but can there be more recognition of achievement, more opportunities for professional development, more autonomy, and/or more responsibility?  A lot of times those types of challenges and recognition are more valuable to young engineers than just financial benefits. 

    Mark Lotz P.E., M.ASCE
    The Wilson T. Ballard Company
    Shrewsbury PA
    (410) 363-0150

  • 6.  RE: Turnover rate of young professionals

    Posted 03-21-2017 06:11 PM

    Turnover rates are increasing everywhere. One thing we are looking at researching at Stevens, is proper mentoring programs.


    Linda Thomas, JD, PhD

    Interim Department Director

    Department of Civil Environmental and Ocean Engineering
    Schaefer School of Engineering and Science

    T 201 216 5681




  • 7.  RE: Turnover rate of young professionals

    Posted 03-24-2017 09:54 AM

    Turnover rates are increasing everywhere. One thing we are looking at researching at Stevens, is proper mentoring programs.
    Linda Thomas,  03-21-2017 17:17
    A few items:

    1. Mentorship
    A formal mentorship program, as Linda states above. With budgets constrained, it's easy to ignore such a program that requires a significant time commitment on the part of the mentors and the mentees. Agencies should also realize the value of reverse mentorship. Keep in mind that Millenials were the first generation to be raised in the age of the personal computer being a mainstay in households; what we lack in experience, we make up for in our natural affinity for tech.

    2. Exposure
    In ASCE's February 2017 issue, the Editor's Note is about Millenials. Laurie Shuster mentions providing the opportunity for "short 'tours of duty' in different departments". Those graduating from college typically do not know which discipline of Civil Engineering they wish to pursue, if they are fortunate enough to have a choice. Exposing them to as much as possible early on will help them in (a) finding a discipline they are passionate about, and (b) appreciating their value in a multi-disciplinary profession.

    David Siegler P.E., M.ASCE
    Project Supervisor
    North Brunswick NJ


  • 8.  RE: Turnover rate of young professionals

    Posted 03-25-2017 12:01 PM
    I have recently been unexpectedly around quite a few 20something civil engineers...I am not sure what to say.  This generation is not looking for a company identity; their identity is with their life statement. My impression is that they are not very loyal to anyone older than they are or to any old ways.  I can't tell if this generation is going to grow out of this either.  I see the posts about mentoring, which I am very in favor for, but this generation doesn't seem to think they need it. I wouldn't make the mentoring mandatory.  Lastly, with the increase of legal marijuana use, how are firms dealing with that? This generation has few issues with using it.  I was told last weekend that "you older people need to deal with it".  This was the answer to the question " how do you expect to provide good engineering judgement if you are always high?"   Personally I am very worried about the upcoming generations.

    Cynthia Gabaldon P.E., M.ASCE
    CG Resource Management and Engineering
    La Verne CA

  • 9.  RE: Turnover rate of young professionals

    Posted 03-27-2017 09:26 AM
    I share your concerns, as I have a son who fits into this mold. Although he is gainfully employed, he seems to have a very different attitude than we did when at that stage of our careers.

    Dennis Keitel P.E., F.ASCE
    Senior Project Engineer
    MSA Professional Services, Inc.
    Bettendorf IA

  • 10.  RE: Turnover rate of young professionals

    Posted 03-27-2017 01:29 PM
    Weed in the workplace?  (Employee says "Deal with it."  Really?)  Would we allow alcohol in the workplace?  Would our clients continue to work with us knowing they can't trust the work products?  Will our insurers honor professional liability coverage if they suspect drug or alcohol use affected the work?  And finally, who has the upper hand -- the junior engineer or the manager?

    Behavior is a function of consequences.  If we allow others to walk over us, they will.  We don't have to be jerks, but we can set clear standards and enforce them even-handedly.

    Retention:  Not so clear cut.  True -- turnover is a fact of life.  But times change and cultures change -- so what drew us to and kept us in engineering may not be the same as the motivators for today's newbies -- so we can't implicitly assume that they should think like we did.  One way to deal is to learn... Why did they choose engineering?  Why did they choose your firm?  What do they like about their work?  What do they dislike?  As we learn from them, and as they see the profession through us, there may well be an opportunity for organizational improvement.  Keep an open mind but always, always keep an eye on work quality.  Your clients expect (nay, "demand") that.

    James Smith P.E., M.ASCE, BCEE
    Envirosmith Engineering, Inc
    Suwanee GA
    (770) 886-2701

  • 11.  RE: Turnover rate of young professionals

    Posted 03-25-2017 12:02 PM
    Read a great article in the February 28 edition of Forbes  by Amity Shlaes. Colleges need to teach more "pro-business" classes and less "humanities". Students will then be more prepared for the workforce, and therefore desire to stay in positions longer. Real-life is not a "bowl of cherries".

    Al Field Aff.M.ASCE
    Al Field & Associates, LLC
    Phoenix AZ
    (602) 616-3618

  • 12.  RE: Turnover rate of young professionals

    Posted 03-27-2017 09:23 AM
    I built a civil and environmental engineering practice in Madison, Wisconsin.  That practice grew to 55 staff, a mix of a few seasoned engineers and many new graduates.  I also volunteered as a mentor to the University of Wisconsin-Madison, civil engineering, capstone senior design class; and to the UW's Engineers Without Borders groups.  My exposure, working with new grads in these three somewhat different settings, made me appreciate the can do attitude, and passion these young engineers have for their craft.  They are sharp, creative and want to grow professionally. They work hard for the people they serve.   I found engineers who work hard to make every project as good as they can, and every day a good one.  

    Thomas Siebers P.E., M.ASCE
    Sun Prairie WI
    (608) 837-4206

  • 13.  RE: Turnover rate of young professionals

    Posted 03-27-2017 01:30 PM
    If you don't have money in the budget to use as an incentive, use perks. Offer more time off.  Loyalty to the manager or department is earned, not given.  You cannot ask personal questions during the interview, but you need to read the person, not the credentials.  What does it mean when someone lists their GPA as 4.0?

    Chad Morrison P.E., M.ASCE


  • 14.  RE: Turnover rate of young professionals

    Posted 03-28-2017 01:46 PM
    Hmm.  Blasé Pascal said something like, The heart knows reasons that reason cannot know.  Consciousness yearns for meaning and purpose, and these are emotional concepts that are mostly outside of rationality.  But finding that in yourself and helping others find it is what leadership is about.

    An approach in the work place to all problems and opportunities that starts with a bit of reflection is powerful: 1) Why get out of bed for this job?  2) What are the highest ethical principles that come to bear on that judgment?  and 3) What are the highest associated duties?

    Then start engaging your rational tools that you've been trained (maybe over trained) to use to analyze your choices for action.  Always leave process, cover your rear, and maneuvering (also less flatteringly known as manipulation) as after thoughts and gut checks that only serve to inform the ethical success of meaning, purpose and duty.

    These are a few thoughts about what should be the beginning steps of critical thinking...Start building a culture of sincere quest for meaning and purpose bolstered by the discipline of critical thinking and you will see a learning organization develop that gets good and great stuff done.

    Oh yeah, people like to work in such places.  Even young people.

    Esco Bell P.E., M.ASCE
    Public Works Director
    Mount Vernon WA
    (360) 336-6204