Friday // September 14, 2018

How strategy drives meaningful employee engagement in the AEC industry


People are at the heart of every success in the AEC industry. Whether it’s a trade partner, a project manager or a superintendent, delivering exceptional experiences and value to clients and partners starts with motivated employees. So, how do companies motivate employees at all levels to maximize positive outcomes?

Experts have wrestled with this question for decades. Steve Coughran, Chief Financial Officer of EMJ, discussed how a well-defined strategy affects employee engagement in a recent interview with Procore’s Jobsite blog. 

“Companies don’t just need employees to be compliant—they need them to be engaged,” says Coughran. “This begins by incorporating both extrinsic and intrinsic rewards, coordinating work through mutual adjustment, and aligning everyone on a well-defined strategy.”

Coughran cautions that demotivation can result if employees’ are tasked with responsibilities that do not clearly tie to the overall strategy.

“If employees are working hard—maybe putting in extra time, missing obligations to stay at work late—and can’t see the results of their labor, they will become disengaged very quickly. You must ensure that your employees’ efforts tie to meaningful, tangible strategic outcomes.”

Coughran notes that for a company’s employee engagement strategy to be successful, it must be at the heart of its business strategy. That is a guiding principle for EMJ’s People Department, which works to ensure the company is engaging its employees in a variety of ways. The team engages all employees, but all of its activities are defined by the company’s strategic plan, which says “Invest in our people and work together effectively as one team.”

“At the end of the day, engagement stems from winning in a meaningful way,” said Coughran. “When’s the last time you saw a Super Bowl championship team that was not engaged? Tackle the tough strategic challenges and make the difficult decisions, and engagement will improve.”

Read Steve Coughran’s full interview with Procore’s Jobsite blog. Learn more about just one way EMJ engages its employees.


Steve Coughran serves as the CFO for EMJ Corporation. Before joining EMJ, Steve authored the book, Delivering Value, and founded a firm where he counseled construction clients on services including strategy, financial management, and operational effectiveness. To schedule some time to talk with Steve about your strategy or how it impacts engagement, please email


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