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Article by Jamie Mackenzie, Director at Sodexo Engage

The shortage of tech talent has been well documented with a recent report from Cloud Assembly revealing 69% of UK business owners are experiencing a digital skills shortfall.

We’ve seen advancements in technology accelerate at a rate that training and development is struggling to match.

The statistics are alarming at first glance, but can employers be doing more to attract and retain tech talent? The skills shortage certainly exists, but highly skilled candidates know their worth and are selective about the employment they wish to pursue.

An attractive employer will have good values and a dynamic culture, but there are added selling points that’ll make a business stand out in the crowd, including a solid benefits package, flexibility and a well-conceived training and development programme. To fill the digital skills gap, it’s clear that businesses will need to adapt and evolve.

Values are the bedrock

Core values matter. No business can function without shared purpose and values, which act as the framework providing direction for employees. A higher sense of purpose binds, guides and prevents stagnation with all employees working towards common goals.

Simply laying out the company values is good, but, ideally, they should be embedded in the company culture. A recent survey revealed 73% of purpose-oriented employees were satisfied at work, which demonstrates how important it is that employers instil a clear sense of direction at work. The marketplace for scarce digital talent is incredibly competitive, so well-defined values give a company added buying power with top candidates.

Knowledge could be one of a company’s values and opportunities for learning will be particularly attractive to digital talent, always looking to upskill and reskill. It’s important to look at what tech skills are needed and either offer training programmes for existing staff or carefully hone a programme for incoming staff. There are so many elements to tech and it’s an ever-evolving market, so no candidate will possess all the skills. Offering various opportunities to learn and acquire new competencies will ensure a business both retains and attracts top talent while staying on top of their game.

Making benefits smart

Values, purpose – without these a business will struggle to function. However, once these are crystalised, it’s time to start thinking about perks and the ways to make work more enjoyable and enriching to individual employees.

Trends in employee benefits are shifting all the time, so business leaders need to keep abreast of the changing fashions. It was recently revealed that tech companies are ditching the more fluffy perks like office beer taps and ping pong tables, to make way for benefits that align more with pandemic working.  The past 18 months has seen what employees look for in a job completely transform. The employee of today will likely place great emphasis on personal time, hobbies, work-life balance and wellbeing. Employers who recognise these priorities in their benefits package will be rewarded with higher motivation and retention amongst its team. who recognise these priorities in their benefits package will be rewarded with higher motivation and retention.

Employers can consider flexible hours and a hybrid working model. Some employers, like Revolut, have gone the extra mile offering employees the opportunity to work anywhere in the world and Github has said employees can work wherever they are happiest. Businesses might also consider giving staff time off to volunteer or pursue extra-curricular activities and initiatives to bolster wellbeing, such as gym memberships, health insurance or Employee Assistance Programmes which allow access to counselling and other mental health support.

There is no single recipe for success in the tech marketplace and any formula adopted will need to be continuously reviewed to remain state-of-the-art. However, building from a clear sense of purpose and values and reflecting those values in the benefits you provide to your workforce will help to distinguish the successful firm from its rivals.

Jamie Sodexo

About the author

Jamie has been with Sodexo since 2013 and is responsible for the company strategy, proposition development, brand management and communications. He brings over 13 years of business and consumer marketing experience in senior roles within blue chip organisations. Jamie is also an advocate for diversity and inclusion at work and has spoken frequently about the ways to create a positive workplace culture.

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