TZL 1182


ON THE MOVE O’CONNELL ROBERTSON ADDS KEY STAFF TO ENGINEERING TEAM O’Connell Robertson has added three registered engineers to its engineering team, further strengthening the firm’s extensive MEP engineering experience and expertise. Jeremy Zorn, PE, is an electrical engineer based in the firm’s San Antonio office. He has more than 15 years’ experience providing design and construction administration services on a variety of projects in the San Antonio area. His experience includes the design of power distribution, interior and exterior lighting, fire detection and alarm, and emergency power and grounding systems. Zorn earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical

He has more than nine years’ experience in electrical design, including code compliance, analysis, specifications, submittals, and reports. Aaron earned an M.S. in electrical engineering, manufacturing systems from the University of Texas at Austin in 2001 and a bachelor’s degree in physics from Abilene Christian University in 1999. “These experienced engineers are an important addition to our team,” said Nick Patterson, PE, LEED AP BD+C, a principal and director of MEP engineering at O’Connell Robertson. “They support our mission-driven approach to providing maintainable and efficient MEP designs that positively impact all who experience and interact with our work.”

engineering from Texas A&M University in 1999. Trent Topham, PE, is a mechanical engineer with more than 20 years of design and project management experience throughout Texas. He has designed HVAC and plumbing systems for numerous educational, healthcare, and other institutional projects, and has extensive experience with historical preservation projects. Based in O’Connell Robertson’s Austin office, Topham is also a graduate of Texas A&M University, earning a bachelor of science in mechanical engineering in 1985. Aaron Dennington, PE, LEED AP, is an electrical engineer based in the firm’s Austin office.


when it comes to a successful first week for new employees. Consider extending your new employee orientation to a few hours over the course of a week rather than cramming it into several eight-hour days. Breaking up the information and focusing each day on one specific point (for example, benefits) allows the employee to better digest the information and deepens their engagement with the company. ❚ ❚ Demystify any buzzwords and acronyms. The AEC industry is full of programs and certifications that mimic alphabet soup. New hires with related experience may recognize these but, for those who don’t, you can mitigate confusion with a fun cheat sheet that introduces industry and internal organizational terminology. After all, no one wants to try to decipher FU (follow-up) on the POS (point of sale) presentation. ❚ ❚ Create a buddy system. Feeling connected is one of the most critical components of a new employee’s onboarding experience. Assign a buddy to each new employee who can serve as a single point-of-contact for work questions, concerns, and/or guidance during the first few months of employment. To ensure a level of comfort, be certain the buddy is a peer and not a manager who is responsible for the new employee’s job performance. ❚ ❚ Give them the lay of the land. Through our survey, we found this to be the number one thing we can improve upon here at Little. New employees want to feel comfortable navigating their new surroundings. Depending on the size of your space, you may want to provide them with a graphic map/floorplan that highlights various support groups (accounting, HR, marketing, IT), printers, restrooms, and conference rooms. Also consider providing a map or list of nearby restaurants, gyms, or attractions they can check out during lunch or after work. Many factors can play into a new employee’s decision to leave a company. Research shows, however, that not only can a formal onboarding process cut attrition, it also cuts the exorbitant cost of recruiting, hiring, and training a replacement. Take the time to implement the proper program and you’ll take weeks off the learning curve and get a fully-productive employee faster than ever. KELLY THOMPSON is a senior associate and marketing communications manager at Little. Contact her at kthompson@ KIMBERLY CASSELLA is a recruiting manager at Little. Contact her at

economy, where firms are competing for the best and brightest talent, you need multiple “players” who can help make your onboarding program a key differentiator. In addition to an HR team member, key players should include the employee’s manager, an appointed “buddy” who can provide day-to-day advice/guidance, and all other employees who are prepared to fully welcome the new talent. “Many factors can play into a new employee’s decision to leave a company. Research shows, however, that not only can a formal onboarding process cut attrition, it also cuts the exorbitant cost of recruiting, hiring and training a replacement.” Along with multiple players, you’ll want to dedicate several months for each new employee to complete your successful onboarding program. Based on a recent survey Little conducted, it is clear the majority of new employees need approximately three months to get fully acclimated to their new job, co-workers, and surroundings. Our survey also revealed that deliberate engagement throughout an employee’s first year is particularly important. Formalizing a successful onboarding program means thinking beyond the traditional desk supplies, a name plate, and a stack of business cards. The following are a few things we learned through our survey of newbies and the critical components of a more formal program: ❚ ❚ Start before they begin. Years ago, it was the norm to receive a three inch binder on your first day that was chock- full of forms to complete, materials to review, and articles to read. These days much of this information is electronic, so why not go ahead and share with employees before they start? This allows them time to fill out paperwork and a chance to get acclimated to the company prior to day one. ❚ ❚ Keep it simple. As with many things, less can be more

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THE ZWEIG LETTER January 9, 2017, ISSUE 1182

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