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Staying ahead in the UK’s race for tech talent

(Image credit: Image source: Shutterstock/Kirill Wright)

It’s no secret that the UK is undergoing serious change, especially as the Brexit deadline edges ever closer. But while the impact of these changes is being felt across the nation, so far it’s done little to impede the burgeoning tech industry. Tech Nation recently found that investment for UK scale-up tech firms has been far from stagnant, growing by 61 per cent between 2017 and 2018. In terms of venture capital investment, this makes the UK fourth in the world, behind only the US, China and India – and above all other European countries.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the number of job vacancies within the technology sector has followed suit. Across the industry, there is currently an increasing need both for technical specialists and those in non-technical roles including marketing, human resources and accountancy. For those looking to make a move – whether they are dissatisfied in their current position or looking for a change in career direction – the volume and variety of vacancies presents an enticing opportunity.

Yet the digital skills gap has also brought about significant challenges for businesses. It’s no longer simply a case of filling positions as a company expands, but also ensuring that the best and brightest talent stay within the organisation. Adding to this complexity is the rise of the ‘quitting economy’. As the idea of a traditional ‘job for life’ becomes all but a distant memory, more people are voluntarily leaving their jobs than ever before. This is particularly evident among the younger generation, where 43 per cent of millennials plan to quit their job within two years, according by a recent Deloitte report.

This shift in employee attitudes, coupled with the ongoing war for digital skills, has created a difficult and intricate situation for technology organisations, whereby the number of suitable talent options falls short of the number of positions that need filling.

Taking a proactive approach to attracting talent

With the tech industry advancing at an unprecedented rate, it’s vital that businesses take a proactive approach to both attracting and retaining candidates. This is not only invaluable to the longevity of a business, but also key for gaining an upper hand in the competitive digital talent landscape.

As a first step, businesses in the tech sector must reconsider and reform their mind-set towards HR, shifting their focus towards people and culture. This involves ensuring that key players in the internal hiring process are seen as fulfilling more than an administrative role, and are instead fully involved in the company’s decision-making process.

As the role of HR in the technology sector undergoes a transition, it vitally important that business leaders implement methods to really understand their workforce. And this is made possible by moving away from relying solely on traditional methods to applying a holistic approach. Only then can solutions be created which minimise the impact of the skills shortage, reduce churn and negate the low retention rates which are endemic across a number of industries, not just tech.

Using technology to boost retention

While it’s true that the fast-growing UK tech industry has created challenges for organisations, it’s also given rise to new technologies which can help ease the load, both by automating time-consuming administrative tasks and providing teams with essential insight into their people.

People analytics, for example, allow business leaders to derive an in-depth understanding of their workforce by collecting and analysing employee data. This insight can be used to identify key employees and departmental connections, allowing organisations to achieve a ‘Google Earth’ view of the workplace. This information can also help anticipate issues early on and prevent them becoming more serious.

Business leaders can also use employee data to get a better picture of the individuals who make up their company. What are their likes or dislikes? What’s their commute like and how does it impact their lives? By having a deep and personalised understanding of each employee, businesses can implement new, more flexible ways of working, as well as strategies to help enhance work-life culture. And, with new data-driven technologies helping to automate administrative tasks, team leaders can strategically focus on the people and, in turn, on growing the business. 

As the tech industry continues to fuel the expanding job market, the pressure on businesses to hire the best and brightest talent will only increase. To survive and succeed in this competitive environment, organisations are required to focus on delivering a personalised and positive employee experience. Through adopting a modern, holistic approach, using data to build a detailed and actionable picture of the entire workplace, business leaders can begin to really understand the workforce and their needs.

In doing so, organisations within the technology sector can navigate obstacles such as the digital skills gap and the ‘quitting economy’. And by getting ahead in the tech talent race, they can help businesses continue to drive innovation and progress within the UK tech industry.

Ronni Zehavi, CEO, Hibob (opens in new tab)

Ronni, CEO at Hibob, has over 25 years of experience in multinational, hi-tech companies. Prior to setting up Hibob, he was an Entrepreneur in Residence at the Silicon Valley based Bessemer Venture Partners.