What is digital talent? It is the people that are needed to use the technology that is transforming almost every area of business. Whether it’s finance, marketing, security, product development, supply chain – you name it, it’s being affected, transformed, disrupted even, by new technology every day. It’s happening very quickly, and it will always be ongoing; there’s no end to innovation.
Businesses need people that can use all this wonderful technology. It doesn’t run itself. Despite the headlines, robots are not replacing humans. Email hasn’t replaced the Post Office, they’re busier than ever delivering all the stuff we order online! Overall, AI is expected to create many more jobs than it displaces. So, it’s a simple fact that to run a business successfully today you need digital talent. And that means that you need to have a digital talent strategy.
As always seems to be the case in tech – the demand for talent greatly outpaces the supply. A 2017 CapGemini study showed that companies are becoming more aware of the digital talent gap and the urgent need to address it. More than 50% of those surveyed said they see the gap widening, that it “is hampering our digital transformation programs,” and that they have “lost competitive advantage owing to a shortage of digital talent.”
The need is real and the struggle to find people is too. Everyone is facing it. That’s why CapGemini recommends a three-pronged approach for success: Attract. Train. Retain.
We couldn’t agree more. We’ve been in the staffing business for 30 years and know a little bit about people and hiring! Persistent shortages have existed for a while when it comes to finding technical, engineering, and other highly skilled talent. It’s what should be expected for many years to come as demand continues to outpace supply.
So, how do you find the digital workers you need? And how do you keep them?
Hiring people with the skills you need is obviously a part of any strategy. When it comes to digital talent though, you’ll need to get creative to truly understand what these workers want. Things like work-life balance, a collaborative work environment, accessible leadership, and a clear career path matter to digital professionals much more so than other workers in general. Salary alone won’t be enough to attract them, although they know their worth. Company culture, community engagement, and other intangibles are growing ever more important. You need to develop an attractive work environment and communicate it clearly.
Normal recruiting channels are not necessarily the best route either. Best practices in finding digital talent include adding someone with digital knowledge and skills to internal recruiting teams and working with external niche firms that specialize in finding digital talent. Companies have also found success with some unconventional methods like hosting competitions and hack-a-thons and using niche sites like GitHub and StackOverflow to help identify top talent. Partnering with colleges and universities to tap into young talent is another avenue to explore.
But hiring the people you need can’t be the only way to build your digital team. There just aren’t enough skilled professionals to meet the demand.
There are many benefits to having a robust training and development program for digital skills. First, it will help you attract and retain your existing digital workforce. All workers, but especially digital talent, care about a company’s commitment to learning and development.
But more importantly, your current workers can become the digital team you need, with the right training. You significantly increase your potential talent pool by retraining your existing workforce. Combined with hiring efforts you can build a strong team.
Building an effective training program is important to get right, and your company will need to make a true commitment of budget and time to really succeed. You might think you’re already doing all that, you may even have a formal Learning and Development group, but 45% of digital talent said their company’s training is “useless and boring,” and 52% don’t think it is helping them gain digital skills or that they are given adequate time to take advantage of training offerings.
So, take a critical look at your company’s program, particularly in the digital arena. Training your existing workforce can be a great option and potentially more cost-effective than hiring. But you need to do your homework. Truly understand your digital needs, the hard and soft skills your company needs, the roles that you need to fill, and then make sure that your program actually addresses those. A blend of internal training, external offerings, and tuition reimbursement is likely the best approach.
Let’s say you are making the move to cloud. You need to fill different roles and need varying skills and levels of experience. You may be able to wholesale train internally to get the team up to speed, while also needing a senior manager to be credentialed through a university program. Online courses to boost skills may be perfect in one digital area, while an advanced degree may be better in another. Design training programs and educational opportunities to get your best people up to speed as quickly as possible while also preparing and building for future needs.
Once you’ve found them, you want to hang on to your digital talent! Seriously! The competition for skilled talent is tough, and people know they’re in demand. If you don’t provide the work environment, opportunities, benefits and perks that matter, they can and will easily change jobs.
Providing a good work life balance and the chance to do meaningful and interesting work with talented coworkers will make your company more successful because you’ll have happier more productive employees. Happy employees tend to stay where they are. Keeping a stable, fully staffed digital workforce is a huge competitive advantage. One worth investing in. It’s up to those managers and business leaders who understand this to convince the company as a whole.
Developing a good digital talent strategy will be critical to business success. Start by assessing your needs. Then keep in mind the need to Attract, Train, and Retain the people you hire. To be successful you will need to do all three well or risk losing out. The good news? With a good plan and a strong commitment, you can do it!