global recruitment specialists
Does your business culture help attract and retain the best IT talent?
The key battleground for companies in almost all sectors is increasingly centered on talent: how to find it, develop it and retain it. Any business seeking to grab and hold competitive advantage has no choice but to focus on their people.
That is doubly true in the IT space where a competitive marketplace means good people are at a premium. Senior professionals at the most recent IT Leaders Forum event heard that the supply and demand of talent is particularly imbalanced in technology, where the best people have become increasingly demanding of their employers.
No surprise, then, that fulfillment and career development are now considered key to successful recruitment. Businesses need to demonstrate a commitment to the future of their tech colleagues – money is no longer enough.
Speaking at the event, Halfords' head of IT Strategy and Planning, Stuart Richards, explained that the priority must be to identify the best in class. This needs to be accompanied by a staff development structure that not only gets the best from colleagues but also provides a clear and compelling career development path – a vital tool in talent retention.
In common with many organisations, Halfords is aiming to break down any silo mentality and make IT staff genuine business partners. But for these partners to drive better decision-making, Halfords knows it is important to define clearly what they are expected to do: what their responsibilities are; what insights they are expected to deliver (and to whom); where they should focus their efforts to add the most value; and how their performance is to be assessed.
For Richards, offering this type of clarity is essential to a happy, productive team. He has spent the last year putting together a new IT retail strategy that involved growing the IT team. "The vision is all about enablement, simplification and information," he says.
"As part of that we have delivered on our promise to make the work environment as rewarding, happy and open as possible. Alongside that we're committed to pushing our IT people to get out into the business where it really counts."
To achieve that, the emphasis has been on group-wide efforts to embed IT into every part of the business. "That means turning data into information – we've got a lot of data in the business, but is it informative? Is it useful to the business? Are we educating the business in such a way to make our voices heard? Answering those questions will go a long way to making sure we're seen as real partners in the wider business," says Richards.
A growing number of IT leaders are now determined to develop their most promising IT up-and-comers as business partners. But are IT staff really being offered the same opportunities for career development as their peers in sales, finance, or operations? Are they really business partners? These are questions each business must ask itself.
Developing a genuine business partnering culture is an undeniable challenge: it can only be achieved by getting out of the silo mindset when it comes to recruitment, and being open to finding and accessing different talent pools.
"What IT hasn't been good at has been driving and fostering innovation," says Richards. "But our next generation of shops is being developed with heavy input from IT, and that involves a lot of innovation."
Central to this is the emerging role of Big Data and analytics. IT has the opportunity to use the wealth of data available to provide guidance, influence and challenge to decision-making in the business. Yet this will remain difficult to achieve as long as finance business partnering continues to be an ill-defined discipline, and there is misalignment between what decision-makers expect and the value that IT business partners can provide. Without a clear definition, misalignment between business partners and stakeholders will remain.
Such alignment is clearly vital, as is sensitivity to the needs and motivations of IT staff. For some business that may mean relaxing the corporate culture in order to attract a wider range of good staff, some of whom may be skeptical of working for a large corporate rather than a funky start-up.
For Halfords it means putting emphasis on fun, teamwork and engagement. "We believe in ensuring that people want to come to work because they like their colleagues and enjoy the interactions with them, " explained Richards. "We've encouraged the creation of community and common aims, the interchange of ideas as well as making sure IT team members enjoy full inclusion in decisions."
It's all so simple: a happy team - with the opportunity to make an impact outside of its immediate environment - is a productive team.
Stuart Richards and other Halfords senior managers were speaking at an IT Leaders Forum event in Birmingham. The IT Leaders Forum is supported by Reed Technology Leadership Practice. It was established to allow IT specialists who work within a managerial capacity to develop their knowledge and professional networks. Membership of the forum is controlled to ensure maximum benefit for participants.
For information on future IT Leaders Forum events, or to discuss your career or recruitment needs, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org