Building a culture that embraces new technology
As leaders adjust to the increased demand — both practically and culturally — for flexible, remote-friendly workforces, they’re also racing to lead the way with increasingly sophisticated technology.
Both seismic shifts — remote-friendly culture and technology — are needed to bolster and sustain a triumphant, competitive return to business, and the imperativeness of being “digital first” is driving leaders to invest time, resources and strategy into their tech teams.
The hiring landscape for top technology talent has always been competitive, complex and fluid; this year, employers will grapple with the aftershocks of pandemic-tinged technology trends. Here’s how, in 2021 and beyond, your enterprise can effectively execute your digital strategies and stay competitive by landing the most needed, but hardest-to-find tech workers.
The state of technology hiring
Even in May 2020, as many businesses cut their workforce in the face of the pandemic, IT job opportunities increased slightly. The writing was on the wall: Technology would be key to surviving the business upheaval. By October, the unemployment rate for IT occupations had dipped to just 2.8 percent — dramatically lower than the nationwide rate of 6.9 percent; and in July 2021, IT unemployment stood at just 1.5 percent vs. 5.7 percent for the whole U.S.
The continued strength of IT hiring, coupled with the seemingly endless obstacles of getting businesses back to offices, signifies important tech jobs will remain a priority into the future. By sheer function (being part of a team that keeps the rest of the business connected and content safe and available), technology workers have become fundamental to the success of every organization.
Data from industry watchers suggests that smart businesses are muscling up not just for the remote-work long haul, but also for deploying sophisticated technology infrastructure. The technology analyst firm Gartner predicts that through 2024, organizations will need to advance their digital business transformation by five years in order to permanently adopt remote work and digital touchpoints.
One way to see the writing on the wall is in hiring trends. For example, the top IT jobs for 2021, according to this CIO.com article, are:
- Security professionals (information systems, network, data and cloud)
- Cloud architect
- Database administrator
- Programmer analyst
- Systems analyst
- Mobile applications developer
- Network administrator
- Software developer
- DevOps engineer
- Help desk and desktop support professionals
The data tells us a story: Tech workers are in demand, and everyone’s competing for the top talent.
So ... where are the technology workers you need?
Hiring tech workers in 2021
As technology imperatives expand and get more complex — think moving to cloud, 5G and blockchain — so, too, have the skills required to run a competitive enterprise.
“Hiring has changed quite a bit as far as this forced-remote landscape is concerned,” said Lisa Weingart, a talent acquisition partner at Hyland. “Perhaps the biggest impact is that we can hire from anywhere with the majority of our roles being open to remote-work — Cleveland, Texas, New York, Miami, Poland, you name it. Not only are we opening up the candidate pool to more diverse backgrounds, but we’re benefitting by adding that value of their thoughts and experiences to our teams.”
The decentralized workforce and the focus on digital-first strategy find commonality in the finding, hiring and keeping of talented technology workers. This segment of your team is needed to both support your remote workforce and to meet the needs of a digital-first business landscape, and the people with the skills to deliver are in high demand.
To successfully execute on your digital strategy, you need a full view of the hiring landscape, the market and expectations for these top-tier titles.
Where to find tech talent
- At the office: Companies who aren’t open to continued flexible work arrangements need to prepare for an exodus of talent: 29 percent of American workers who have been working remotely say they would quit their job if not allowed to continue, and 62 percent of remote staff say they’ll give preference to employers that offer remote work.i The opportunity for future-thinking organizations is to recognize what those workers are missing and serve it up to them at their own place of business.
- Straight out of super star city tech hubs: Lots of talented technology workers still live in tech hubs, but the only two cities in the United States that saw a loss of tech workers in 2020 were New York City and San Francisco, the holy grounds for tech workers pre-pandemic. Who saw the biggest gains? Madison, Wisc., Cleveland and Sacramento.ii If your company is embracing remote positions when it’s possible, you can find talent anywhere, including these “second cities” that are gaining in tech workers but maintain a lower cost of living. For organizations looking to build their ranks, recruiting from outside of the inflated-salary tech hubs will also help drive down the demand for high-percentile salaries.
- Behind their LinkedIn profile, not looking for a new role: “We actively source individuals on LinkedIn,” said Christina Gibson, another talent acquisition partner at Hyland. “We don’t just rely on individuals applying; we seek out talented individuals and sell them on what we can offer them.” This type of passive recruitment is important and effective for high-demand roles, especially if your company is doing the work to deliver an exceptional culture for remote workers.
"The key is to show genuine empathy and flexibility, so they know the type of organization they’re getting involved with."
How to attract tech talent
- Build and live up to a sterling technology reputation: Your company needs to be truly committed to pursuing high-impact, exciting technology if you want to attract and keep great tech workers. Gibson notes the need to be able to (truthfully) convince them that if they join you, they’ll find joy, challenge and the opportunity to innovate with you. “One selling point that we see land well with candidates is that we have the ability for them to work on brand-new products — something they can have a huge impact on,” Gibson said.
- Follow the golden rule: “You should think about yourself, put yourself in the candidates’ shoes,” Weingart said. “Think: What would I want? A flexible work environment? Supportive environment? A positive work culture? If you can have all those things in one company, that’s a pretty big gold star. Every candidate brings their own circumstances, whether that’s family, sharing a car with a spouse, having a disabled dog at home. The key is to show genuine empathy and flexibility, so they know the type of organization they’re getting involved with.”
- Embrace diversity: As businesses pull in more remote employees, the workforce becomes more diverse from many standpoints: Diversity of thought, educational background, geographic location, race, gender and more. “Just having those different perspectives can really help a team grow personally and professionally,” Weingart said. “Being able to share different experiences, different technologies, different ways of living — it’s extremely valuable to learn from your co-workers and be able to share.”
“If their current company isn’t investing in new technology or moving toward initiatives that are new and interesting and innovative, that can be a driving force for a talented individual to start looking elsewhere."
How to retain tech talent
- Re-evaluate benefits for a decentralized workforce: If you aren’t in a tech hub, but you’re looking to hire the kind of talent that often lives in a tech hub, you need to evaluate your salaries and benefits. Do they meet the needs, expectations, caliber of talent and cost-of-living of those areas? And beyond salary, if you’re shifting from an on-site model to remote or hybrid, how can or should your employee offerings evolve? If your on-site employees previously enjoyed access to an office gym, can you look at providing a fitness stipend for noncentralized team members? Or funding for home office equipment?
- If you’re going to invest in technology, go all-in: “For a large set of our candidates, they’re in this recruitment process because their current organizations aren’t investing in important technology — cloud, especially,” Gibson said. “If their current company isn’t investing in new technology or moving toward initiatives that are new and interesting and innovative, that can be a driving force for a talented individual to start looking elsewhere. For companies that aren’t prioritizing those types of things, or it’s just not a focus to be an innovative development shop from a business perspective — they might find they’re not able to hold onto high-talent, high-demand technology teammates.”
- Let them do what they do best: Talented employees want to be challenged, to keep their skills relevant and to have the freedom to learn and try new things. While this is especially true in the tech world, where the culture of experimentation and innovation is core to progress, it’s underlined by a common desire amongst all employees. Sixty percent of workers say the ability to “do what they do best” is the top factor in evaluating a job; not irrelevant is that 53 percent say greater work-life balance and better personal well-being is “very important,” as well.ii
Beyond hiring: Keys to executing your digital strategies
In many ways, the upheaval of COVID-19 has created a compelling reason to act on technology initiatives that might have been considered to-do’s, but not actively pursued. But, smart, progressive technology can no longer be considered a “someday” project.
If your company isn’t ready, willing and able to invest in the technology workers it needs to execute on its digital strategies, it might need to consider other ideas for achieving those goals.
Two technology trends, managed services and low-code rapid application development (RAD) solutions, can help bridge the gap between enterprise-wide in-house IT coverage and execution through strategic partnerships.
Managed services: a key model for accelerating agility and ROI
When digital optimization is critical — and in today’s business climate, it is — organizations need to evolve, or they risk being left behind or at risk for compliance vulnerabilities. The pressure to deliver can be a heavy and costly burden, especially for in-house IT teams who may be struggling to maintain or grow head counts or trying to build technology competency as they go.
If researching and developing custom solutions across the enterprise becomes unsustainable, a managed services partner can step in to assist. Some scenarios where this could benefit a company include when:
- The gap between leadership goals and in-house resource capabilities is unattainable
- Resource requirements too often shift due to changing leadership priorities, often around emerging technologies and upskilling initiatives
- High-talent individuals or teams are continually pulled from one project to save another, which stalls initiatives and depletes morale
- Disparate IT initiatives and services projects impede momentum and digital agility
While it may feel counter intuitive to grow your technology strength with managed services, the outcome can be powerful. See how a managed services team impacted Coke One North America: