Written by Ryan Cullen, People Partner, DevOpsGuys
The Tech-sector is a bit of a unique beast. When considering the people it brings a different perspective to what you’d find in other industries. These challenges are pretty exciting for a People Partner like me as it provides me with an opportunity to do positive, proactive work in a space dominated by intelligent, motived and engaged employees. It does, however have a different set of challenges.
In a study conducted by the British Chamber of Commerce this year it found that three out of four businesses are facing a shortage of digital skills in their workforce. Within the STEM jobs sector there is an even larger issue, with a report finding that 43% of vacancies are hard to fill due to a shortage of skills in the candidate. So how do we not only attract the best talent, but also keep them in such a competitive market place?
From our experiences, here are our 8 top tips:
1. Have a strong Employer Brand
Your brand strength isn’t just about attracting new customers, it’s about getting the best employees. Having a strong, identifiable brand makes you well known but this alone isn’t enough for employees.
All organisations go through recruitment processes, but it’s important that you make these engaging and relevant. The more enjoyable the experience (even for those that don’t get the job), the more they’ll be an ambassador for you.
Here at DevOpsGuys (DOG) we like to do things differently, not only we get them to do something that relates to their job (be that a tech test, a presentation or something else), we also get some of our employees to take them to lunch and others (that won’t necessarily be from their department) to sit with them for a coffee and discuss our core values and what it means to them. It’s friendly, relaxed and hugely valuable and most of the candidates going through this process really appreciate the care and attention that’s gone into their selection.
2. Foster an amazing internal culture
People want more out of work than just the hum-drum of 9-5. Creating an environment which is fun, high-energy and engaging is a real draw for people. Lets be honest, we spend a large amount of our time in the workplace, so it’s becoming increasingly important that people enjoy where they work. So create a culture that cares for people as individuals. Create a company that understands people have priorities outside of work like a family or other commitments (think remote working, working from home and being flexible). Create an environment in which people get out of bed and want to come into work in the morning.
If you can do this and find a way to articulate this to potential employees, you’re on to a winner.
3. Be thought leaders in what you do
People inherently want to be the best at what they do. To help them become the best, they want to work with the most innovative, the most forward thinking and the most inspiring to learn from them. By becoming a thought leader show that you’re at the forefront of what you do.
By being on that cutting edge, you’ll demonstrate that you can deliver a sense of purpose within the workplace. Having that connection to purpose is a huge intrinsic motivator, so don’t underestimate its value.
4. Never stop learning and developing
In Deloittes’ 2017 Human Capital survey they found that in the UK, 84% of staff rated the learning aspect of their career either important or very important. It found that one of the key drivers of motivation was the ability to learn and develop, but only 1/3 of employers managed to achieve this.
The beauty of this is that it has a double benefit. Staff seek new knowledge and experiences that grow them both professionally as well as a person, but also you get them to utilise these skills in the workplace. Win-win.
Having a culture of learning and development means more than having a learning budget. It means being comfortable with employees taking time out their day to read a relevant article or study, it involves creating a culture where there are spaces and time set aside for development and learning, but most of all it’s about ensuring everyone believes that learning adds value not just to the individual but to the organisation as a whole.
With Brexit looming over the UK it doesn’t look like the skills shortage is going to get any better, therefore businesses have to create longer term strategies in order to find and develop the next talent. Couple this with the Apprenticeship Levy, it makes sense to nurture your own talent.
Use apprenticeships or the new graduate apprenticeships to bring through new talent. With the cost of university having gone through the roof, many of those earlier on in their careers are just not seeing the return on investment they used to from their degrees. Where possible forge strong relationships with institutions and look to supplement the learning with other providers in specialist areas, with a focus being on useful skills rather than formal qualifications.
6. Passive tools
Job boards will soon be all but obsolete in a sector where skills are so scarce. In the past individuals would flood job applications when a role was advertised, but this is no longer the case. Social networks such as LinkedIn allow a recruitment team to have conversations with those individuals who aren’t necessarily looking for a new role, but could be persuaded.
Think about it this way, if you are an engaged, valued employee would you be actively looking for a new position?
7. Be picky
As we mentioned before here at DevOpsGuys we have a well-tested recruitment process that involves a test of both their technical abilities in the role that are going to undertake along with an assessment as to whether they will buy into our company values.
It isn’t the quickest recruitment process in the world. It’s certainly not the cheapest but what it gives us is surety that the new person coming in has the skills and ability to do what they do and they aren’t going to damage the internal culture here.
This is important because this is the vital ingredient to it all, when we talk about culture or DevOpsGuys being a great place to work, a lot of things get discussed, but it all comes back to the people. Ultimately this is why people stay, the people are the lifeblood of DevOpsGuys, so it pays to take our time and pick the best.
8. Pay fairly and competitively but realise that money is unlikely to be the silver bullet
Daniel Pink said “The best use of money as a motivator is to pay people enough to take the issue of money off the table” and he’s completely right. If you pay people less than they’re worth, you’ll start to get their perceived worth back from them. In addition to this, if you don’t pay somebody market rate, somebody else will. I can assure you that a high staff turnover is certainly more expensive than paying people fairly in the first place.
However beyond a point money ceases to motivate people. I could write another ten articles about how to engage and motivate staff but none of them start from the premise of paying people more or incentivising pay.