Bryan Powrozek PostedThursday, June 9, 2022 Q A conversation about the future of work would not be complete without discussing the impact on people. How are system integrators adjusting their approaches to attracting, recruiting and retaining talent? A Making sure that you've got the right people in the right roles and maybe some of those roles need to change is more important than ever. I was talking with a gentleman from the Smart Automation Certification Alliance, they put together credentialing programs for robotics and other aspects of automation. But their goal is if you can take a person that was maybe just a technician or somebody that was putting together the equipment and you now add a layer of skill for them where they're doing more of the programming or configuration of the hardware and software, you've now freed up space for the person above them. And so is there a way to kind of shift some of these responsibilities around and up skill, some folks who can now take on more responsibility, which now creates more capacity throughout the organization. So there's just so many conversations about the best way to do that. And you would think the ability to recruit anywhere is one solution but now everybody can recruit anywhere. Also, how do you define what your culture is? If you're not actively laying it out and saying, this is who we are, and this is what's important to us, you're going to develop a culture whether you are intentional about it or not. So how do we help define a culture, identify who we are and, therefore, who do we want to try and recruit into our organization that's going to align with those values and think the same way? And then how do you find those people? If you're in office the culture is maybe a little more easy to develop and maintain, but if you're working hybrid or some combination of remote employees, what are you doing to get those people together to get people, to have those connections? We see it even in public accounting. We have a lot of folks who are working remote four days a week, three days a week, we even have a couple employees we've hired who aren't based in Michigan where our offices. Well, for that employee, if they're working for me or they're working for somebody else, their day doesn't change, they still go into the same home office they're working on taxes or whatever it might be. So how do we develop that hook and that culture that makes them want to stay in spite of the fact that their day to day may not look any different regardless of where they go. Q Let's talk of another big topic of conversation during the pandemic, which is using automation to make supply chains and industries more resilient. How are system integrators preparing to take advantage of this tremendous opportunity? A Yeah. That I think we heard a lot about that as toilet paper started running out on shelves and there were huge delays and backlogs to get products from companies manufacturing them, and automation seems to be the one consistent answer. You'll hear lots of different answers, but if you could kind of parade this all out automation would be probably the top response. And so for an integrator, that's a great opportunity. You know that you're going to have a lot of people -- and we heard this through the pandemic -- of companies??? backlogs growing because the buyers of automation wanted to be in line so that they could get their project done when it was done not wait six months and then have to go to the back of the line. So that's great from an opportunity standpoint or a sales pipeline standpoint, but now that creates a whole slew of other problems. Most integrators are already, they're recruiting and hiring and trying to find more people because they're running probably below where they may want to be necessarily in terms of headcount. So not only do you need to fill the roles you have open, but you know that that work could potentially create more roles. So you've got human resource implications, you've got cash management implications. If you've got to go out and buy a piece of equipment at the outset of your job, but you're not getting paid until later, you've got to be able to make sure you're watching your cash flow and at least everything we're hearing, there's not going to be more money coming out of the government anytime soon, at least for businesses. So just managing your day-to-day business changes a little bit. Those opportunities are great to have there, but you got to make sure you put yourself in a position to actually be able to take advantage of them when they come in. Q Most businesses saw a lot of change in terms of where they performed their business because of the pandemic. How are system integrators adapting their business model as a result? A For business owners in general, but integrators in particular, the pandemic has opened up a lot of new doors and a lot of new challenges too. If you think about it, most integrators, they've got their engineering staff who could do their job from anywhere. And I've heard stories of integrators changing where they're recruiting at. They're no longer recruiting where their office is. They're recruiting nationwide. Conversely, they're employees saying, "Hey, do I have to work from the office or could I move to someplace else?" Maybe they're originally from a different state or something like that. And they'd like to move back home, but they still want to stay what they're at. So that creates a whole other level of challenge of how do you maintain your culture? How do you attract people when you're 10 states away, and you don't really have the networking base there to try and find people. For a controls integrator who maybe has a panel shop now you've got that challenge of part of your workforce has flexibility, but part of your workforce is still tied to the office. And how do you make both sides of that equation feel like they get the flexibility and the ability to do their best work and take advantage of some of the opportunities that are out here as people talk about the future of work. But it creates some additional challenges for business owners, but I feel also opens them up to a lot more opportunity. You're no longer restricted to that pool of talent in your immediate half-hour radius of your office. And so now you can really branch out and find the best employees for your organization. And then you just need to change some of the ways you do things to get them onboarded and make them feel like they're part of the team.