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How to attract - and retain - tech talent in a disrupted working world.

The UK faces a dearth of tech talent in some of our most vital industries. From cyber security to DevOps, data analysis to development, skilled tech workers are in incredibly high demand as the country continues to revolutionise their digital offerings, and transform them into future-proof services.

But context is everything - digital transformation, and the requirements for improved digital services or augmentations are ubiquitous but not uniform. Understanding why demands on tech teams have increased serves as a platform on which to create more attractive long term recruitment and retention strategies.

Digital transformation in the age of COVID

Variances in digital transformation approach, requirements, scope, scale, and cost have created unique demand pressures on tech professionals. However, the reward for rapid implementation is generationally defining.

  • ➔ “The Global Digital Transformation Market is Expected to Grow from $469.8 Billion in 2020 to $1,009.8 Billion by 2025, at a Compound Annual Growth Rate of 16.5%”.
  • ➔ This is “driven by increasing penetration of IoT and the adoption of cloud services…(and the) increasing penetration of mobile devices and apps”.

COVID-19 was a brutal digital catalyst for many hundreds of thousands of companies in the UK as they struggled to stay connected to customers and open for service.

However, not all industries have approached, or been able to approach, digital change in the same way. This has been one of the driving contextual forces behind the “great resignation” and churn of tech talent across the UK.

  • ➔ McKinsey’s “How COVID-19 has pushed companies over the technology tipping point” executive research piece highlighted how some industries - such as consumer packaging, automotive, and assembly - reported, “relatively low levels of change in their digital-product portfolios”, whereas the “healthcare and pharma, financial services, and professional services” reported a “(digital) jump nearly twice as large” as other sectors.
  • ➔ Demand for tech talent is now spiking, with “two-thirds (63%) of digital leaders from smaller companies” noting shortages in tech talent, with demand equally as required on the front end as well as the back (operations, supply chain, production etc) with “rate of adoption …consistent across regions”.

It’s worth also noting that in the same McKinsey report, it was stated that the largest digital changes were often the ones that are more long term in implementation, those of “remote working, changing customer needs, and… customer preferences for remote interactions”.

This neatly parallels the same demands and desires of a tech workforce in flux.

Analysing your employer/employee value proposition, and changing proven recruitment strategies is no easy task, but employers must make targeted changes where it matters most.

Here is where we feel you can make an immediate impact to recruit and retain tech talent in such a difficult environment.

Empowerment

  • Good general recruitment practice entails curating nurturing environments to learn, develop friendships, create, collaborate and innovate. For tech teams, this means leading from a position of iteration and feedback, allowing your teams to find new and novel solutions to digital integration whilst valuing their input.
  • While we absolutely encourage more empathy in leadership styles and interactions, in practice, empowerment means becoming more of a servant leader - doing more to support your tech teams to collaborate and innovate in pursuit of a goal, and leading by offering your time, advice and mentorship.

Recruit with purpose

  • Your EVP will be built on how you package, and sell, your company's purpose. Your recruitment strategies’ success hinges on how well you differentiate from tech competitors, and how well you communicate your why: why should talent work for you? What are you offering them that other employers don’t? Where does your company sit in the community, in the wider tech industry, and in the minds of your current employees?
  • Utilising your employer brand is how you communicate your purpose. This means you should pursue a multichannel approach to your employer brand, telling your workplace story across marketing, via referral networks, internally and externally. You will find quality candidates being drawn to you like a magnet, attracted by your ethics and culture, and it will also hold employees in place, as they feel their values mirror yours.

What do your workers want?

  • Gulfs in demographic expectation to work (for example, Gen Z’s quick-fire career hopping compared to Gen X’s more sage appreciation of staying at one firm) shouldn’t mean you cannot take a broad church of ideas to make targeted changes where they can make maximum impact.
  • For example, ethical leadership, sustainable practice (especially the 6 R’s of production and manufacturing), and remote work are 3 cross-generational expectations, and as a business leader, you have to listen to your teams in regards to how they see you implementing them.
  • Finding a middle ground with hybrid work arrangements is not a sign of business weakness, it means the opposite - it feeds into both your empowering purpose of leadership and acknowledges the shifting sands of time, not to mention the overwhelmingly positive evidence of hybrid working arrangements to productivity, staff happiness and staff retention.

Next Steps

Contact the BrightBox team today if you would like support overcoming your resources challenges.


References:

https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/strategy-and-corporate-finance/our-insights/how-covid-19-has-pushed-companies-over-the-technology-tipping-point-and-transformed-business-forever

https://www.globenewswire.com/news-release/2020/08/14/2078517/0/en/The-World-s-Digital-Transformation-Industry-2020-2025-Trends-Opportunities-and-Competitive-Landscape.html

https://www.forbes.com/sites/alisoncoleman/2021/12/01/how-four-uk-tech-firms-are-tackling-serious-talent-shortages/?sh=62609ba65160

https://hbr.org/2021/09/how-to-be-a-leader-who-stays-true-to-their-ethics-2

https://practicalaction.org/schools/6-rs/#:~:text=6Rs%3A%20Rethink%2C%20Refuse%2C%20Reduce,on%20people%20and%20the%20environment.

https://www.wired.co.uk/article/quit-remote-working-dream#:~:text=Totaljobs%2C%20a%20UK%2Dbased%20job,since%20the%20start%20of%202019.

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