Creating A Digital Identity And The Digital Skills Gap

Everyone talks about the digital skills gap. For me it’s a real problem that my team face every day. Trying to grow the workforce in a digital business when some people do not  know who you are and what you do adds an additional layer of difficulty. Competing with other companies to retain our current people and attract new talent is a very frustrating environment for a resourcing lead.

Establishing a relevant corporate and work identity is only one element of getting over the talent attraction minefield. It is becoming more and more relevant as digital leaders to establish a personal digital identity too and show that not only the company is somewhere people want to work, but you are someone people want to work with.

Post Merger Identity

After 18 months of being a new company formed from 2 of the IT service and infrastructure giants, a lot of the potential talent still don’t know our name and our true brand.

I’ve been to many recruitment events and people look at you behind your nice and shiny branded stand and don’t recognise us. People start the discussion with ”What do you do and who are you?”. Our responses are always ”We used to be…”. Then we see the spark of recognition in people’s faces when we mention our previous globally recognised brand – then you can start to have a conversation.

Corporately the CEOs and CIOs know who we are, however still think of us as we used to be.

News flash to the IT talent and the CEOs / CIOs…

We are very different today than we were 18 months ago, both in what we do and who we are.

We are an exciting, dynamic and amazing team of people learning and improving every day and taking our people and clients on an incredible transformation journey.

The digital world does not stay still and we are not only moving with it, but we are giving it a good push on it’s way.

Retaining Staff – Loyalty Is All About The Culture

All IT digital companies are in competition for IT talent…. FACT!

With the right skills like Dev Ops, Agile, Automation, Cloud, Robotics an engineer or agile delivery lead can be king or queen in the jobs market.

We sit in some amazing locations across the UK and the globe, but so do other similar companies.  We also have more varied competitors now…

  • Our historic competitors  – the large scale and mega IT companies
  • Small and Medium IT software houses – (let’s be friends and work together – call me!)
  • Public Sector – DWP, BPDTS, HMRC – pushing up the market salary rates (why is my tax pound being used to pay such over the top market rates?)
  • Internal IT – insourcing is real when development is less about lines of code and more about graphical interface tooling and ‘ready to go’ IT

Culture vs Cash

We have invested a lot of effort in creating a place where people want to work and most of that was done by listening to the team and what would make the difference to them including training, mentoring, learning from experienced people, freedom to innovate, health and wellbeing time, new and interesting assignments, recognition from their colleagues etc.  Interestingly the one condition that is usually mentioned last is salary.  This only becomes top of the agenda when people are attracted to a competitor for more money.  Even when they get offered highly salaries elsewhere they usually don’t want to leave us and we need to fix that.

Attracting Staff – Is All About Being Different and Surprising

My team have been working on creating an enviable workplace culture for the last couple of years and if we can get people through the door and into the building we know they will want to join us.

Our goal is to make people want to work with us or inspiring them to make their work culture and environment like ours.

The difficulty lies in getting people through the door to see how good it is here.

Attracting new talent is really difficult with so much competition… FACT!

The digital resourcing manager needs to be creative in today’s competitive environment. We cannot wait for people to knock on our door announcing they have arrived.  We need to find them, show them what we are about and guide them through their journey to their Career and Dream Job.  There are lots of different streams of workforce now to hire from  including …

  • Traditional experienced permanent hires
  • Early career apprentices, interns and graduates
  • Dedicated digital training/hiring companies
  • Tapping into the Autistic workforce – they can be amazing in an IT work environment with small adaptations to support them in their role
  • Ex armed forces looking for their next career
  • Part retired experienced hires – who are a little bored in their retirement and want to get back into work – they have so much to bring to the workforce especially upskilling and mentoring the early career hires
  • People with potential from non standard backgrounds who have passion and learnability – we have brought into our company people from many diverse backgrounds including a nursery nurse, chefs, carers, catering etc. who have been amazing

Without a good career brand reputation it is difficult to break people’s preconceived ideas.  I recently asked the team to consider sharing their reviews of working for us on Glassdoor – being honest and truthful and representing what we are today.  We did actually get some good reviews.  One of the team later saw a comment on an online article about our company saying “They had noticed we were getting some positive reviews and the management must have forced their staff to post or they were fake comments”.  We didn’t!  The reviews were positive, but truthful and constructive.

Creating Your Own Digital Identity

Everyone is surrounded by brands and we all have our favourites including Apple, Microsoft, Starbucks, Lego, Amazon, local business, regional brands etc.  In the digital world People are also brands and what they put out in the ether on their social media presence is increasingly important.

We have done some research with the  leadingedgeforum.com on the 21st Century Human and having a Digital Mindset, Skillset and Identity.  Take a look at their site for more information on their fascinating work.

To be a credible digital leader you need to show your team and clients that you understand their problems and can help them.  Speaking the same digital language is the first step.  Understanding the terminology to be able to have a meaningful authentic conversation is so important.  As leaders we might not have all of the minute detail, but you do need to be able to ‘get it’ and enable the team so they ‘totally get it’.

In the digital world you can’t afford for your team to be in catch up mode, you need to keep reinventing to be relevant and rather than being told what to do, you need to decide what needs to be done ahead of time to hold onto any competitive advantage.

Final Thoughts …

The Digital world is so much part of our DNA now.  It is central to us all from the moment we wake up (I bet almost everyone uses their phone or digital assistant as their morning alarms), all through the day with, online banking, online shopping, booking a holiday, TV, entertainment, social contact and communication, relaxation, exercise tracking, digital assistants etc to our falling asleep reading a Kindle or listening to an Audible book at bedtime or using a mindfulness app to meditate and read you to sleep.

The largest part of our waking digital day we spend at work and we a have a responsibility to our teams to make that time as enjoyable, meaningful, full of learning and development and productive as possible so we can retain and attract the right people.

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