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The Practice Management Knowledge Community (PMKC) identifies and develops information on the business of architecture for use by the profession to maintain and improve the quality of the professional and business environment.  The PMKC initiates programs, provides content and serves as a resource to other knowledge communities, and acts as experts on AIA Institute programs and policies that pertain to a wide variety of business practices and trends.

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  • 1.  Firm Hiring

    Posted 03-14-2022 02:05 PM
    We have had our employees approached by other firms directly about coming to work for them.  Some have been contacted on their work email addresses.  Is this the new norm?  It seems completely unethical to me.  I am wondering if this is a national trend.

    John Chase AIA
    Chase Marshall, APAC
    Lafayette LA
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  • 2.  RE: Firm Hiring

    Posted 03-15-2022 07:33 PM
    Is it ethical for recruiters and firms attempting to hire additional staff to contact candidates through their current work email addresses? Considering that the boundaries between personal time and work time have become all but erased in the past 10 years--and the same for the boundaries between personal communication/technology devices and work communication/technology devices and between personal accounts and work accounts (email & social media), I think it's difficult to argue that there's any ethical issue there. Here are some examples of what I'm talking about:
    -How many firms expect staff members to take and make business calls on their personal phones? All the firms I know of.
    -How many firms expected employees to use their personal desktop computers, tablets and phones to work from home during the COVID crisis? A majority of the firms I know of.
    -How many firms expect employees to take business phone calls or attend online business meetings during personal time (after hours, on weekends or while on leave, paid or unpaid)? A majority of the firms I know of.
    -How many professionals in their 20's and early 30's subscribe to ISP's or phone services that provide permanent personal email addresses anymore, a common practice in the 1990's and early 2000's? None that I know of. This means they have two options when seeking new employment: use a "temporary" or "throwaway" freebie email addresses that can appear unprofessional OR use the current email address assigned by an employer, which has the benefit of displaying one's current employment as an added benefit.
    -How many firms encourage staff members to post positive messages about the firm on social media or prohibit staff members from posting critical messages about the firm on social media using their personal accounts? How many allow this to be done on company time and using company equipment? It's a fairly common practice.

    My point is: The line between the personal and the corporate has already been blurred beyond distinction when it comes to email, social media, devices and time. Insisting on a bright line now isn't serious, in my opinion.

    Sean Catherall AIA
    Murray UT

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  • 3.  RE: Firm Hiring

    Posted 03-16-2022 07:35 PM
    Agree with Sean. 
    It's ethical.

    However, i suspect most people have a personal email with Google or at least their university email if that. 

    If they're reaching out on the company email it's because it's easier to find via sources that have that information like company websites, LinkedIn, Zoominfo, etc. 

    Agree that the best you can do is give them reasons (intrinsic and extrinsic) to stay. 

    Otherwise, employees have every right to find another opportunity. 
    See this relevant case:

    George Valdes Associate AIA
    St. Petersburg FL

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  • 4.  RE: Firm Hiring

    Posted 03-17-2022 05:39 PM
    As far as finding names and email addresses to go looking for prospects, it certainly would be possible for a company looking to hire to ask employees "who do you know that could work here" and get names, and likely emails.

    After that, sifting through "about us" webpages that show all the staff, and figuring out the address syntax (jane-d@architects-R-us, johnd@architects-R-us, janedoe@architects-R-us, etc.) would be pretty simple.

    So the immediate response of calling the other firm(s) and saying "knock it off" would be the quickest.  A counter-attack, sending feelers out to them, might work.  [Start with their HR department ...]

    The "get staff together and talk about it", coupled with action and changes by management, might give people the best sense that they have a place in your firm.  Then, intensify your staff review meetings - go to quarterly versus annual, work on incremental steps for training, experience opportunities, everything that helps people see that professional growth is a goal.  And - hold the principals' feet to the fire to be mentors, to treat staff decently, to keep jobs profitable.

    Make it comfortable for people to ask for help.

    A former co-worker said that the first architect he worked for said "Tom, my job is to train you to be the best future competitor for me."

    Joel Niemi AIA
    Joel Niemi Architect
    Snohomish, WA

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  • 5.  RE: Firm Hiring

    Posted 05-14-2022 09:03 AM

    Unfortunately, as many of the responses indicate, plenty of our peers see no problem with this practice at all. Professional ethics are becoming a bit of an anachronism. We have head hunters calling our folks on a nearly daily basis. That being said, our firm has always placed an extremely high value on our employees-we pay well, bonus well, have a flexible work/life environment and even do small thinks like free snacks and a free drink fridge. Most of all we are not a sweat shop demanding 50/60/70 hour weeks as employees "pay their dues".

    The net net of this is employees laugh and tell us when they are contacted; moreover, most of our employees have been with us 8 plus years and in the past few months our last three hires came from employees encouraging their friends to work for us.

    None of us can control the questionable actions of other employers but we can create an environment employees do not want to leave.

    [ Nea May] [Poole] AIA
    [Poole & Poole Architecture, LLC]
    [Midlothian, ] [Virginia]

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