The tech talent race: how businesses can take the lead

Today’s constantly evolving talent landscape presents a growing set of challenges for businesses – and nowhere is this more evident than in the UK’s burgeoning tech sector. A recent report by Tech Nation found that the number of job vacancies within the industry is at an all-time high across the UK. And this is compounded by the fact we are facing a digital skills gap, predicted to cost the UK economy up to £141bn. As a result, the competition for organisations to attract and retain people with the right tech skills, knowledge and mind-sets has never been fiercer.

Among the findings, the report revealed that there were 2.1 million people working in the digital tech sector in 2018 – which is more than in hospitality, construction or financial services industries. Yet despite the large number of people already working in tech, almost 1.7 million job vacancies were advertised last year. While there is a great deal of roles to fill there is also an increasing amount of options for people working within the tech industry looking to change jobs.

Interestingly, the report found that a third of jobs advertised in the tech sector are for people in non-tech roles such as accountancy, marketing and HR. As tech companies grow at pace, the breadth of roles that now need to be filled is far larger. But whether businesses are hiring for technical or non-technical positions, it’s important that candidates have tech-centric mind-sets to fit with the fast pace of a scaling business.

Navigating the tech sphere

Put simply, the tech talent pool is currently not large enough to fill all the vacancies available. What’s more, as an increasing number of people voluntarily leave their jobs, businesses are grappling with a new workforce phenomenon: the ‘quitting economy’. Recent research, for example, uncovered that the longest amount of time people stay at the world’s top ten tech companies is just two years. When it comes to this more transient workforce, businesses cannot afford to be complacent in their approach to talent retention.

Talent retention and recruitment is key for driving a competitive business advantage, especially within the tech industry. As such, certain roles such as HR are shifting from an administrative function to a core part of a company’s decision-making process. To navigate both the digital skills gap and the ‘quitting economy’ businesses need to work with HR to completely rethink the way they attract and retain the best and brightest tech talent.

Using data to keep your people

There’s a lot that businesses can do to pre-empt issues and minimise the impact of the ‘quitting economy’. This centres around not just knowing the workforce but really understanding them –gauging why people have left the company and obtaining a ‘Google Earth’ picture of current employees.

Fortunately, as the tech industry has evolved, so too has HR technology – giving organisations the ability to glean important insights from employee data. Many businesses are turning to people analytics to collect and interpret this data, allowing them to predict and prevent problems within their workforce. And as businesses scale, these solutions can automate admin-heavy roles, allowing teams to focus on more strategic aspects of talent retention, while also providing a holistic view of the growing workforce.

By taking a data-driven approach, businesses can weather this new environment and make meaningful changes in a timely fashion. One proactive application of people analytics is to comprehensively map the entire workforce. This helps to identify the most influential employees and key connections between departments. It also gives companies the ability to spot issues before they become more serious, such as problems with existing structures or broken lines of communication.

Data can also be used to get a deeper understanding of individuals – their likes, dislikes, hobbies, how they travel to work, for example. So, is it the long commute that’s bothering a dissatisfied employee, or are they looking for a new challenge? Knowing this can allow business leaders, in close collaboration with their HR teams, to make a proactive change and enhance day-to-day elements of work-life culture.

With the number of tech vacancies in the UK set to rise further, businesses are tasked with offering a positive employee experience, culture and benefits to compete with the other roles talented individuals are applying for.

By being mindful of external data, such as Tech Nation’s recent findings, and using their own internal systems to understand their workforce, businesses can ensure they are taking a holistic approach to finding and retaining employees. Ultimately, this will enable them to stay one step ahead of the ‘quitting economy’ and meet the digital skills gap head on.

By Ronni Zehavi, CEO, Hibob

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