In the current labour market of low unemployment, it’s widely accepted that employees are in the driving seat. As ‘the war for talent rages on’, businesses and their HR teams have their work cut out for them, whether they’re working to fill vacant posts or simply striving to retain the staff they already have, writes Pedro Bados CEO and Founder of Nexthink.
In some industries, it’s a case of talent shortage – and it’s widely accepted that the technology sector fits into this category. All too often, there simply aren’t enough highly skilled employees available, meaning those with the right skillsets can take their pick of jobs.
This presents some exciting opportunities for employees, but it can raise challenges for businesses – like high staff turnover. On a purely financial level, the average price of replacing a member of staff is generally considered to be between six to nine months’ salary on average, and this is likely to be even larger in highly skilled tech roles. More pressing still is the fact that tech businesses (more so than some industries) need to attract and retain highly skilled, technically impressive employees to drive innovation and power growth.
For European firms, this issue is exacerbated even further – because so many of the brightest minds in tech have their heads turned by the fabled Silicon Valley.
Talent attracts talent. A great many students from the top American universities head to Silicon Valley after graduation, lured by its buzzy atmosphere, boundless opportunity and global reputation. Programming jobs are abundant, while salaries are typically generous.
But it’s not only students already living in the US that feel the attraction. Silicon Valley’s global reputation means its businesses attract employees from around the world, and home-grown European talent can sometimes be lost, leaving European companies with a serious shortage.
If they want to thrive and compete on the global stage, European tech businesses have to work harder to find, attract, and hire top-tier talent. And that means focusing more heavily than ever before on the employee experience.
Prioritising Employee Experience
To my mind, there’s no denying that success in tech is powered by people: at Nexthink, we attribute a great deal of our growth to fighting hard to secure the best talent. And we do this by striving to create the best possible employee experience. This might sound obvious, but it is overlooked surprisingly often – especially in an industry notorious for the long hours worked by its employees.
Businesses should start with the basics. The advantages of certain employee engagement methods – like providing a rewarding benefits packages, flexible working, and a pleasant office – speak for themselves. One recent study found that the right mix of benefits can decrease turnover by up to 138%, showing that the right package goes far beyond salary.
Companies based outside of Silicon Valley should be prepared to make noise about the wider lifestyle benefits their locations can provide. Even within the US, other cities are strengthening their reputations as tech hubs: Boston, the home of Nexthink’s US office, is the third fastest-growing hotspot in the US, after San Jose and Austin.
The same applies in Europe. Countries like Switzerland, Sweden, Denmark and Norway are renowned for the high quality of life they offer, while buzzy tech cities like London, Amsterdam and Stockholm should be highly appealing for young workers.
The Digital Imperative
However, business leaders do need to acknowledge that employee experience is about more than free yoga and the ability to work from home. In nearly all working environments – but especially in the tech industry – digital experience impacts almost everything an employee does. Whether they’re collaborating with colleagues around the globe, using software, or even just carrying out day-to-day tasks, disjointed, slow and bug-riddled tech is hugely frustrating.
IT problems are also a huge productivity killer, and there’s little more annoying than waiting half an hour for a crashed system to reboot when deadlines are already tight. Yet all too often, this aspect of the employee experience is overlooked in favour of wider investments into culture. While this is undeniably important, many businesses (both in and out of the tech industry) could make some serious improvements to employee engagement levels by investing in the digital experience, from resolving IT issues more quickly to putting better resolution strategies in place.
As recent reports have shown, the European tech scene is doing very well and offers a great deal of promise for the coming decade. But to keep growth and investment on an upward trajectory, while deterring employees from heading to the well-established pastures of west coast America, tech businesses must ensure they can offer a gold-standard employee experience. Whether that’s company culture, an appealing benefits package, or a smooth digital experience, investing in this area won’t end the war for talent – but it’ll certainly help European firms retain their much-needed employees.