- Carl Sautereau
The UK tech sector has become a candidate-driven market with more vacancies than talent. But are businesses engaging employees or are they running the risk of losing talent to competitors?
Employee engagement is a serious issue with research showing that disengagement is costing businesses £340m a year.
In its simplest form, employee engagement is about making workers feel valued and encouraged, thereby getting the best out of them in return.
Employees who feel more engaged by the company they work for are more likely to value their job, and work harder to make the business a success – knowing that by doing so, they increase their own chances of success and personal advancement.
There is of course no ‘one size fits all’ solution to increasing employee engagement, and each industry experiences different wants and needs from employees.
The tech sector, for example, faces challenges when it comes to the expectations of workers, largely due to the generational differences between those operating in the industry, whether it’s millennials who value access to the latest technology; the prospect of ‘flexible working’ or a more innovative environment; maybe older workers who may put more emphasis on further career prospects; or simply being appreciated for the skills they bring.
Generational differences are a hurdle when it comes to approaching employee engagement, with millennials now making up most of the workforce, yet the most skilled and experienced employees still not ready to retire.
When it comes to millennials, tangible benefits have become drastically less important, and many are now much more responsive to a work environment where collaboration and a work-life balance are a main part of the job offering.
Likewise, younger workers increasingly value the chance to progress quickly and take on more responsibility within a business.
This shift towards environment, culture and non-cash benefits is something that businesses are increasingly waking up to and, as a result, many companies are now putting that company culture front and centre in an effort to stand out.
Proving this is the right decision, research recently commissioned by Talent Deck found that 67% of developers in the UK think that company culture is now more important in the workplace than it was five years ago.
Older workers, however, are not content with simply waiting out their final years of a career, and are far more likely to stay with a company – with their skills and experience – which continues to offer them intellectual stimulation and the chance to continue developing new skills, while continuing to feel like a valued part of the business.
Businesses are becoming aware that modern workers are no longer tied to the idea of a 9-to-5 day and single-job career, and that engaging with employees, finding out what they want and then taking steps to implement changes, is the only way to remain competitive in a candidate driven jobs market like the tech sector.
Establishing a company culture, especially within a long-running business, which might be more set in its ways can be difficult and, according to a recent study, 56% of employers say they are unable to actively manage a company culture because they don’t have the leadership in place, while another 45% don’t look to create a defined company culture because they don’t have the time.
For those businesses which are still struggling to engage with employees and get the most from them, they risk falling behind the competition and watching the best talent go elsewhere in search of better opportunities, more challenges and a better business culture.
While flexible working, access to better equipment and career development are becoming an increasingly vital part of all businesses, the tech sector is experiencing an accelerated version of this ‘Google effect’.
In part, this is due to a rise in awareness around workplace culture and establishing a better work life balance.
For instance, 36% of developers are now more aware of the time they are spending at work.
An increase in job choices and the emergence of the ‘job hopping’ phenomenon – which younger workers in particular are becoming known for – has also raised the importance of businesses reacting to what their employees want.
Developers are also becoming more aware of their value in the job market as businesses scramble to bring in the best talent and 38% of developers now say there is more job choice available than in the past, while 35% of developers no longer expect to be in the same job for more than a year, especially if they feel the culture isn’t right for them.
The UK skills gap is not going away anytime soon – especially in the tech sector – and as the talent continues to rule the jobs market, businesses are going to be forced to engage with them on their terms, or risk losing them to the competition.
Carl Sautereau is CEO and co-founder at Talent Deck