By: Leslie Stevens-Huffman
Onsite bowling allies, climbing walls and free scuba certifications are just some of the extravagant perks dangled in front of talented engineers by top employers like Google and Chesapeake Energy.
While engineering professionals want a competitive compensation package and a few creature comforts, they aren’t always motivated by hefty salaries or quirky incentives.
As Jordan Taylor points out in his blog about what engineers truly want, engineers have a voracious desire to generate innovative solutions that are valued around the world. He insists that employers need a three-pronged culture that emphasizes work values, job rewards and job satisfaction.
So what do engineers look for when shopping for employers? Here’s a peek at the items on their wish list.
An Egalitarian Environment
Avoiding company politics is one reason some engineers are driven to work on temporary assignments.
A hierarchical, top-down corporate culture is not going to make a good engineer happy, said Tom Pinckney in an interview with Business Insider.
Engineers crave an open environment where their ideas are welcomed and valued. It’s no wonder that New Relic offers engineers the responsibility and authority to make decisions about what they work on, they tools they use and how they can improve products in their recruiting video about their engineering-centric culture.
Diverse and Challenging Projects
Engineers tend to “objectively measure themselves,” says Pinckney, so you should consistently move your employees up to harder and bigger projects as they prove themselves capable. Indeed, the opportunity to design spacecraft, explore the universe and redirect asteroids could be why engineering students recently named NASA their dream employer.
Skilled Co-Workers and the Latest Tools
Working with mediocre teammates and yesterday’s technology is demoralizing. Motivate your engineers by giving them the chance to work with like-minded colleagues and cutting edge tools.
The best companies offer engineers a career path which doesn’t necessarily mean a management position. For example, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Ft. Worth District uses lateral moves, stretch assignments and temporary reassignments to unleash the hidden interests, passions and skills of their workforce.
You don’t need crash rooms, ping pong tables and yoga classes. What engineers really want is a comfortable, informal work environment that fosters creativity and collaboration. As Pinckney says, most engineers have certain personality traits, and one is the tendency to value “substance over style.” So they tend to favor work environments that feel like a home away from home.
While a little bit of pressure can inspire engineers, constantly having to meet unreasonable, arbitrary deadlines can have the opposite effect. To foster a culture that appeals to engineers, consult your team before setting deadlines, don’t underestimate the amount of time a project will take and push back on clients and stakeholders who impose unrealistic time limits.
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