In a time of increasing complexity and shrinking budgets, the only viable solution for any organisation is improved efficiency. Compute, digital transformation, and cloud-based solutions promote this efficiency, but we need the people with the relevant skills and capabilities to deliver it.
The importance of a people strategy
A people strategy is designed to inspire and achieve widespread, company-wide alignment on goals that concern your most important asset: people. While an HR strategy is more of a plan for managing employee logistics, a people strategy should be built to drive employee engagement, productivity, and most of all, retention of your high-performing or high-potential employees.
Individualism and freedom of expression, and the importance of the diversity and inclusion agenda in the workplace, has not only changed an employee’s expectations but also their demands. People are looking for tangible ways to take control of their individual career pathways and achieve the work-life balance they strive for, forcing hiring organisations to adopt more tailored approaches.
The World Economic Forum’s 2020 ‘The Future of Jobs Report’ stated the highest-currency skills right now include critical thinking and analysis, problem-solving, and skills in self-management such as active learning, resilience, stress tolerance and flexibility. So, while offering improved technical skills will support a candidate in a role, access to additional soft skills will have huge appeal; they’ll be more flexible and employable throughout their working lives.
Reward strategy – the people have spoken
The best designed total rewards programme attracts, motivates, and retains the right talent, shapes your culture and your reputation, and balances the needs of the business with what employees really want. With more focus on performance, equity (compensation and benefits, reward and recognition) is becoming an even bigger determinant of value. Employees are no longer willing to accept the norm; they’re choosing to define their own worth or move on. Employers are realising one size no longer fits all and a more individual approach is needed to acquire, manage and retain their talent pool.
Filling the gaps
It’s critical to help your people adjust to the new technologies through education and retraining, creating a culture of adaptability and lifelong learning. For example, some jobs may be lost because of RPA (robotic process automation), but others will be created. Specialists will be needed to monitor, analyse and run the technology, and these people will need to be trained. This is just one of the newly created fields of expertise that will be highly sought after, and well paid.
To consistently find, screen, and hire the talent you need at a sustainable rate you need to be innovative while maintaining a clear strategic vision. Aim for recruitment methods that draw attention and make your employer brand stand out, even as a start-up or small business. You might:
- Promote diversity across your content.
- Use alternative platforms (i.e., not recruitment sites) tailored to the interests of the exact type of candidate you’re looking for.
- Automate your vacancy postings with Programmatic advertising.
- Engage positively with employer review sites.
- Deploy and maintain social media platforms.
And internally, create technology opportunities for employees through:
- Apprenticeships – well managed internship (via universities, gap year advisors, or the likes of TechSkills,) and apprenticeship programmes are fertile ground for recognising future talent and leaders.
- Job rotation – a temporary lateral move and excellent way to transfer specific skills, knowledge, and competencies, leading to human capital accumulation and a more flexible workforce. It also stimulates motivation and helps assess person/job fit.
- Reskilling – training employees in new technology capabilities to equip them for a different position within the business.
- Upskilling – preparing employees for major changes in their current position. One of the most important ways for companies to fill the gaps and equip their people with the digital, analytics, and organisational transformation skills and competencies they need to be future proof.
- Certification – offering employees official certification opportunities (AWS etc.) within their role to promote personal development and future proof the business.
- Diversity and inclusion – be mindful of perceived tech sector gender bias within job descriptions and opportunities (e.g., ‘engineer’ can feel very male/technical) to encourage more female applicants.
Sharing the knowledge
David Price (Client Director at Rackspace Technology and TechUK board member) spoke recently about how the public sector: “…needs to upskill/build capability across every department, especially around digital transformation so you not only get a built cloud system, but you end up with a percentage of trained people that are part of the civil service.”
A solid knowledge base learned once can be passed on to other departments and future talent through legacy ‘train the trainer’ type development. Our own co-founder Luke Pilfold-Thomas, who sits on the TechSkills Employer Board agrees: “Our semi-automated Cloud, Consult and Change playbooks have the potential to impart decades of experience and aid fast track learning within transformation and change teams. Longer term we’d love to transition them into certified training courses and become the PRINCE2® equivalent for business and technology transformation.”
 Panel speaker at TechUK round table – The role of Cloud in modernising Government IT (October 2022)