Anyone else feeling cautiously optimistic that Australia’s long running ICT skills shortage may be starting to ease a trifle?
It was heartening to see thought leaders from across government, the business community and the union movement come together last month at the national Jobs and Skills Summit, to chew the fat about how our country can build a bigger, better trained and more productive workforce.
As an HR professional who is pedalling double speed to recruit and onboard software developers, business development professionals, and a string of other roles for a rapidly growing SaaS start-up, I felt it was not before time.
The struggle is real
In common with our counterparts and competitors across the high-tech sector, we’ve found the last couple of years challenging, on the hiring front.
Until recently, closed borders forced us all to fish in the same static pool for the personnel we needed to backfill vacant roles and grow our businesses, and there’s a strong sense that that pool is now well-nigh ‘fished out’.
The expansion of the skilled migration program spells good news for us, as it will allow us to access a breadth and depth of talent that the local market and education system is failing to produce.
Creating a compelling employee value proposition
In the meantime, being up against it has reinforced some valuable lessons about recruitment and retention. It’s forced companies like ours to think harder than ever about the things we need to do to become an employer of choice, at a time when high-calibre employees have appealing choices galore.
Getting remuneration and benefits right obviously sits atop the list. In today’s times, they can’t be set and forget: something that only gets examined during a bi-annual or annual salary review period.
We have regular reviews with all our employees – as often as three monthly for key contributors – and stay abreast of the latest research, to ensure we’re paying people what they’re worth, proactively, not at the eleventh hour when they may already be disengaged and have one foot out the door.
Cracking career opportunities
We’re also cognisant of the fact that individuals don’t only go to work for money. Yes, they naturally want to receive the going rate but they also want the chance to stretch themselves. That’s only possible if you work for an organisation that offers plentiful career progression paths for those who want to try new things.
Whether it’s acquiring additional skills, testing themselves in a leadership role, or tackling tricky new technical or business problems, our rapidly expanding business has opportunities aplenty and we’ve made it a policy to offer those opportunities, wherever appropriate, to our existing team members, before we go searching for talent on the open market.
Casting the net wide
Being genuinely committed to diversity is the other thing that’s helped us to secure scores of new hires.
Historically, the ICT sector was renowned for its lack of diversity – anyone who’s ever attended a vendor or user conference can attest to the significant gender imbalance that continues to exist, especially on the technical front – but that’s starting to change. And it will change even faster if companies like ours are able to create attractive working environments for individuals from all backgrounds.
Some of our stand-out hires in recent times have been mature workers – over-50s professionals who openly voiced their concern at interview stage about whether our younger employees would be accepting of co-workers from an older bracket.
In fact, they’ve been great fits for our business. The experience and wisdom they bring to the table is acknowledged and appreciated by our early career professionals who, in turn, have been able to provide some reverse mentoring, on occasion.
Securing staff to support a stronger future
All of these strategies involve a significant investment of time and resources but, as a start-up in scaling mode, we’ve found the dividends are significant: a retention rate of close to 90 per cent and a highly committed workforce that is helping our organisation flourish and grow.
If that’s your goal too, I recommend putting your biggest asset – your people – front, centre and first in all that you do.
Kellie Egan, Chief People Officer at Marketplacer
The practice of actively seeking, locating, and employing people for a certain position or career in a corporation is known as recruitment.
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