More than one-third of a manager’s time typically goes into managing talent, an issue that is high up on the list of key management challenges today. While finding good talent is already a major challenge across industries and trades, the talent crisis has reached gargantuan proportions in technology teams. Today, every industry, without exception, is integrating technology in its processes and automating its workflow. Industries that adopted technology early on are now moving towards leveraging artificial intelligence and machine learning in their processes and offerings. The technology-led startup space has also expanded with enormous funds flowing in from investors. All this has led to a hypercompetitive talent market, thus making the hiring challenge infinitely worse.
In line with this, the big questions are how we reel in the best talent and how do we retain them. The short answer is to size up the motivations of the individual and align them to your vision and the future of your business. It is essential to know what motivates your employees and focus on what they can achieve when they work with you. While every person is different, most people’s motivations could be classified under one or more of the following: Money, Team, Type of projects, Title, Work-life balance, Technologies to work with, Target industry, Target customer segment/persona, Work location, and Flexibility. It is important to narrow down their motivations so you can pinpoint exactly what’s in it for them.
Motivations aside, organizations need to have a pulse on their employees. As the business and team grow, senior leaders are hard-pressed to fit in individual facetime with everyone, so it becomes imperative to have built people-centric values and working styles that percolate throughout the organization. Fundamental employee engagement practices—periodic employee surveys and a structured rewards and recognition framework—are useful. But beyond these, infuse people-oriented practices in day-to-day work: have regular review meetings and ensure that conversations go beyond project updates; organize show-and-tell sessions for people to showcase their work; have strong rewards and recognition framework; set up periodic all-hands meetings where the business head shares organizational updates and their larger perspectives.
At CACTUS, we use an AI-powered smart chatbot that periodically reaches out to employees in a personalized manner, interprets sentiment, and responds empathetically. Employee conversations with the bot help us understand their experience and keep a check on stress and engagement levels so that necessary intervention is taken as needed.
As the world moves to a remote-first culture, some rethinking is needed on the design and format of many of these initiatives. While remote is certainly the way to go, in-person meetings, both work, and fun are non-negotiable elements to build the team culture and camaraderie. Companies are now bringing in people whose primary goal is to manage the switch to remote. There has been considerable advancement in video conferencing technology, online white boarding, project management, and other tools which make the transition simpler. Many organizations are trying out a hybrid model, which gives employees an option to be at the office 1 to 2 days a week. We are also working towards making hot-desking, hoteling, working staycations, and other options available where employees can meet and spend time with each other.
Eventually, it all comes down to loyalty and trust. If the organization is able to successfully gain the trust of its people, retention would certainly be a high priority albeit a very manageable endeavor.