Seven Steps to Solve the Digital Talent Shortage

September 25, 20197min

The talent conversation is a hot one in digital.

With the ever-increasing number of tech start-ups, expanding global tech vendors, transformational businesses, and digital agencies, there is a finite number of people with the right skillset at any one time. So what can companies do to ensure they attract and retain the right people?

1. Build your brand from the inside out

Millennials and Gen Z are more focused than any generation before on the lifestyle that an employer can offer them. Flexible working, company culture, training and an organisation’s ethical and environmental stance are all subject to scrutiny. As Peter Drucker said: “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.”

That’s definitely true when it comes to hiring and keeping great talent!

Reinforcing company culture at the on-boarding stage and consistently within teams clearly defines how people treat each other and sets the scene for interaction and good communication. It may seem superfluous to the immediate problem of solving the talent gap but aligning the recruitment process with the day-to-day culture will make for better-engaged employees. These, in turn, are more likely to build stronger bonds from the outset and so, less likely to leave you at a crucial period of delivery.

2. Invest in knowledge

Faced with a lack of highly skilled knowledge around particular technologies, you’ll have to think differently about how you build teams. You won’t necessarily have all the players that you need in your workforce at any one time. At Cognifide, we realised long ago that we wouldn’t find the skills we needed easily in the market, so we doubled down on training and developing graduates or experienced engineers who were up for learning something new.

In fact, we take on around 50 graduates a year in our innovative Career Start Up programme at our engineering centre in Poznan, Poland. It pays off! Last year, 83 percent of them stayed on as permanent or part-time employees. And in London, our Digital Academy welcomes a regular stream of hugely talented graduates onto our staff.

3. Build hybrid teams

The best-case scenario we’ve found for our clients’ digital project teams is to build a hybrid team of full-time employees, specialist contractors, and partner agencies, supplemented by interns and recent graduates who can develop within the team and become those high-demand workers of the future. Finding the right specialist partners is absolutely key when upskilling your own team on new technologies. 

4. Seek out great soft skills

Of course, a collection of highly skilled individuals does not guarantee a well-functioning team. Employing members of staff based solely on their technical skill set doesn’t guarantee that chemistry will create a cohesive team. At Cognifide, while we have some very technically competent people, it’s not our number one priority when hiring engineers.

A greater focus on soft skills and motivation is what helps us create teams with empathy, who care deeply about our company and customer success.

5. Attitude matters

Technical skills matter but a good recruiter knows that finding candidates with the right attitude and a desire to learn can be even more important. After all, some technical skills are transferable from system to system. It’s the hungry candidates, happy to put the hours in to teach themselves, who will stand out.

6. Share knowledge

A growing trend across digital is informal communities built for knowledge sharing and skills transfer. They are often small groups created for mentoring within the workplace or in the wider community. At Cognifide, we partner with local schools and universities, offering lectures and courses that support up and coming talent. And we host a bunch of different events including a Java User Group, a Testing and Quality Group, an AWS User Group and a HashiCorp User Group, amongst others.

7. Nurture happy

Keeping highly skilled employees means keeping them happy.

Happy colleagues are those that are challenged and respected. They’ll be supported, yet given enough independence to allow them to make a difference and their working environment will be diverse and welcoming to everyone. This is about far more than throwing in bean bags, a sleep pod and a Nespresso machine.

This is about wiring your DNA for a modern workforce that thrives on mutual respect, works to clearly defined goals, is flexible and open to change and embraces all that technology offers to improve their working lives.


Josie Klafkowska

Josie Klafkowska

Josie Klafkowska is Director of Marketing at Cognifide.




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