The Great Resignation is gaining pace, so where do we go from here?

Employees on a conveyor belt leaving their jobs as a metaphor for great resignation

Article by Charlotte Gregson, MD, COMATCH

The combination of skills shortages and the pandemic have, over the last few months, created a spike in many leaving the PAYE workforce behind as a shift in lifestyles and priorities were bought to the fore from hybrid working, the need for new skills to changed expectations of what an employer should offer.

But where there is a crisis, there is also opportunity for change, and the flexible resourcing field is becoming ever more prevalent as these shifts in attitudes continue to gather pace.

The UK consulting sector is valued at £12bn, within that the independent market is valued at £2bn. As a curated marketplace for independent consultants and industry experts, COMATCH saw a sharp increase in employers looking for consultants to plug the gap in their organisation.  Employers are having to work harder to attract people and forced returns to the office for employees gave rise to the dearth of key staff in many offices and what we are seeing in the marketplace right now is a recalibration as we continue into a post pandemic world.

This has expedited the trend toward on-demand talent as a future of work. An increasingly digital business landscape has meant a growing demand from companies for highly specialised talent to help navigate this changing business environment. Online talent platforms offer access to skilled individuals with the capabilities and expertise to help businesses thrive in today’s new, rapidly changing economy.

Harvard Business Review recently reported that “despite the extent to which companies are now turning to [digital talent] platforms, very few firms have developed a cohesive organisation-wide approach to their use. However, for businesses to remain competitive in the digital era, they need to understand that incorporating on-demand expertise and capacity can be a significant competitive advantage.

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Digital transformation and IT related roles as well as M&A and due diligence roles have remained a hot topic over the past 12-18months, we are still seeing women under-represented in these categories. Industries like IT Strategy, Asset Optimization, and IT Architecture has the lowest share of females working in these fields. Hybrid working and flexible hours can be a great way for women with commitments elsewhere to re-join the workplace, notably seeing more consultancies open to working to the four days per week set up or protected hours. Female consultants impress with their CVs and present themselves better in interviews: Compared to the male consultants they have a 13% higher probability to receive an invitation to an interview after clients saw their CV and a 7% higher project win rate after they had a personal conversation with the potential client. This underutilised talent demonstrates there is still more work to be done to encourage this female talent pool into these opportunities.

As much as it took us a while to get used to working from home, so the return to the office will take time for adjustment. The pandemic without a doubt has expedited trends around the future of work and use of external talent which is a good thing. For firms facing retention issues having the flexibility to bring in talent for capacity constraints or specific expertise on an ‘as needed’ basis is very compelling. For a lot of our consulting clients this has fundamentally changed the way that they staff their case teams with externals now making up a fixed percentage of project teams. How exactly hybrid working pans out remains to be seen, as workers establish new routines and ways of working.

About the author

Charlotte is COMATCH‘s Managing Director for the UK & Ireland; she joined in 2018 to launch the London Office. With over a decade focused on cross-sector talent management, she has specialised in building networks and placing independent consultants. Previously, she worked as a management consultant for both L.E.K. Consulting and IMS Health (now IQVIA). Charlotte holds a Ph.D. in Chemistry from Imperial College London.


The importance of inclusive and accessible user research in digital transformation projects

Since the onset of the pandemic, businesses have had do to do much more than adapt their workplaces with new health and safety measures. Many have had to digitally transform at an unprecedented pace and overhaul their tech infrastructure.

However, with any technical overhaul, it’s crucial that an inclusive approach is taken, to ensure that the end result is truly accessible, and all user needs are met. That’s why research is a vital stage in the process – and shouldn’t be overlooked.

Clare Gledhill, operations director at CDS, shares her thoughts, below…

An upsurge in digital usage

Digital transformation is one of the buzzwords from the last 18 months, with many companies having fast-tracked their plans due to the impact of Covid-19. However, while it may have already been on the cards for some, for other services and sectors that weren’t yet on that digital journey, they soon had to be.

As a result of needing to work at such a rapid pace though, this has meant that in some cases, businesses have cut corners to roll-out new systems and comms channels quickly – and often to the detriment of user experience. It has been a baptism of fire for both parties.

Approaching a project without user research, journey mapping, persona development, pattern analysis, and experience prototyping, results in a lack of real evidence on which to base design and usability requirement decisions. Consequently, this runs a huge risk of excluding people.

In truth, there’s a huge paradox between digital inclusion and digital exclusion. Online solutions can undoubtedly enable organisations to operate more effectively and be in-tune with their audiences, however, if designed using subjective, opinion-based methodologies – without user input – this can have the reverse effect and cause more feelings of disconnect and frustration.

Research to understand users’ needs

At the cornerstone of any successful digital application – whether that’s a website, content management system, or mobile app – is satisfaction from the people who will be using it.

The key point here is to note the difference between ‘want’ and ‘need’, too. For example, do users want to call you because they don’t find the website accessible? Or do they need to communicate via a certain channel, but can’t find it easily?

Research is the key to unlocking this insight – with ethnographic, observation, and flexible styles allowing more people to be a part of the fact-finding process.

This inclusive approach has also arguably never been more important than it is at present. Following the pandemic, people who had previously managed their lives without using technology have been forced online, as companies and services made the shift from face-to-face to digital.

This has meant that while user segments have previously been dominated by digital natives and early adopters of technology, we now have to recognise that inclusive design means understanding the full spectrum of user needs, motivations, pain-points, ambitions, hopes, and capabilities – in relation to access to technology, alongside digital experience understanding and confidence.

Digital transformation offers the opportunity for companies to change positively rather than simply keep amending or retrofitting features onto an existing, not-fit-for-purpose solution. Businesses have the chance to step back and do things properly – segmenting audiences and tackling persona profiles in a much broader, more accurate way.

Ultimately, the research phase is essential for building a deep and meaningful picture of your audience and their requirements.

Research is the biggest long-term gain

Working at speed and needing to implement new channels or features quickly can often see companies rush into their digital transformation projects – believing that the fewer stakeholders involved, the better.

Yet while involving a fewer number of people in the process may initially accelerate the overhaul, this time-saving is short lived. Conceptualising and building a new solution based on one person or a small, select group’s opinions is never going to be reflective of the true end-user – meaning they’ll experience more challenges and frustrations when the product finally reaches them.

This is why the fear that research will slow a project down is unfounded. The irony is that incorporating research can actually make the process move quicker – everyone is singing from the same hymn sheet, no one is making decisions based upon guesswork, and design is completely user-centric.

It’s no secret that a lot of digital transformation projects are commercially driven, streamlining operations and offering greater employee and customer satisfaction, so getting it right is understandably important. But this can only be achieved through taking the time to get to know users and placing them at the heart of the project.

Finally, while embedding inclusive and accessible research into digital transformation ventures is important, it needs to be fully valued by companies – not simply seen as a tick-box exercise. When carried out properly, it can empower an organisation with true audience understanding and guide decision-making, which not only has a positive impact on user experience, but this translates across brand reputation, customer and employee retention, and bottom-line impact, too.


Why investing in digital transformation is no longer an optional extra in the post-COVID 19 recovery

Kelly Olsen, Chief Operating Officer at SThree, explains why investment in people and technologies will fuel a post COVID-19 recovery.

With COVID-19 creating an unprecedented challenge for the globalised economy, no two industries will be facing the same challenges.

The pandemic has forced organisations to accelerate business transformations at incredible speed whereby technological development and workforce behaviour has revolutionised as a matter of urgency, emphasising demand for specific IT skills across industries and sectors.

  1. Transformations are hard; digital ones are harder

The current rate of technological transformation has been exponential. For organisations worldwide, keeping up with the pace of change is vital in order to remain competitive; embracing in new technology and modes of working will be fundamental to the future success of any organisation.

Mobilisation of the workforce within this period of change is cited as a top concern among businesses – insight from our global client base shows that 43% of employers concerned about either enabling remote working and collaboration or keeping staff safe in the workplace and/or remotely.

Almost all of SThree’s clients have implemented home working to mobilise their teams, causing huge demand on IT infrastructure. We are witnessing companies throw the full weight of their resources at digitalisation - clearly driven by the transition to remote working and the adoption of cloud-based platforms. In some cases, digital transformation plans around technology architecture that had lead times of 18-months are now being turned around in just one month. It seems that now, finally, tech is seen as a revolutionary force within the workplace by those who control budgets.

  1. So there’s a tech revolution… but is it the resolution?

Every business has been required to become more tech-enabled than ever before and with business continuity being the top priority, companies who will thrive in a recovering economy will be those that have reimagined their business model with the tech revolution in mind.

In practice, that means prioritising employee and customer journeys from a digital-first point of view. Virtual will become the new physical on a permanent basis, and that means work itself will change. Yes, remote working is now here to stay, but also work will need to correspond to demand surges – meaning that the need for contract workers to be recruited at short notice and onboarded quickly into a company will rapidly grow.

But not every industry can operate remotely. Manufacturing and engineering, for example, rely on physical components being delivered and finished goods being created in a plant or factory.  That is where previous buzzwords like IoT, AI, and automation come into play. For example, machines can fill the physical space between workers, allowing social distancing to take place while not sacrificing the efficiency of the production line and enabling people to work on more meaningful tasks within a production plant. 

  1. Powered by the people

People have rightfully been the immediate priority, reacting in record time to changing working conditions and unprecedented business continuity challenges. COVID-19 has highlighted the absolute imperative to move faster on digital transformation and talent will be a key differentiator as organisations build the future.

Some employers expect that they will have significant talent gaps to fill when the economy experiences a sudden recovery and may use the shift to remote working to widen their talent pools. There is already an underlying demand for STEM skills as organisations struggle with the operational challenges of remote working and need new talent. In the UK, for example, the number of professionals in the Data Science, Salesforce, and DevOps fields has grown by 10-12% - even during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

To succeed, organisations must forward plan like never before and be ready to recruit this kind of STEM talent. That means embracing from the outset the idea of ‘telecommuting’ – eradicating the old thinking of working from home being a ‘nice to have’ and enabling talent to enter the business on a flexible basis who in turn enable an entire workforce.

Conclusion: the new normal was always coming…

In reality, the growth of remote working and of machinery taking on more tasks were trends we were already seeing long before COVID. All that the pandemic has done is accelerate them tenfold – meaning that the new normal has come around faster than we ever expected.

About the author

Kelly Olsen is the Chief Operating Officer at SThree plc, the only global pure-play STEM recruitment company. She oversees the global IT and Operations functions at SThree, having joined the company from global professional services firm RPS, where she worked as Chief Information Officer (CIO). She has also held senior roles at NHS Property Services Ltd, Cushman & Wakefield, Capgemini, and Towry Law.


How the tech industry and digital transformation can champion diversity and inclusion | Genefa Murphy

DiversityMicro Focus CMO Genefa Murphy has experienced many twists and turns on her journey to become chief marketing officer to one of the world’s top 10 enterprise software companies.

Here she talks about the state of play for diversity in the technology sector, the role digital transformation can play in creating a working environment where inclusion, diversity and belonging can thrive and the experiences that have shaped her own career path.

The technology industry, the pioneers, the inventors, the early adopters. In many ways the technology industry is ahead of the game – forging forward faster than many other sectors in terms of developing new solutions, new approaches and new talent. It is undeniable that inclusion and diversity, including the role of women in leadership, is finally having its moment in the tech spotlight, with the CEO of Oracle, executive chairman of IBM and the CEOs of YouTube, PagerDuty, TaskRabbit plus many more tech giants all being female. However, despite this progress, there is still more work to do. While it’s great to see more companies being transparent and embracing the broader inclusion and diversity agenda as well as being open and honest about what they are doing to support the cause, the fact remains that in many cases a person’s gender, race or sexual orientation is the descriptor that defines them – not their skills or capabilities. This is particularly acute amongst the underrepresented minorities who still have to fight harder and longer to attain equality.

The tech industry and tech employers have a huge opportunity to be beacons of best practice when it comes to inclusion and diversity. So much of our lives centre on the digital age that tech employers can “lend their privilege” – to borrow a phrase from fellow tech leader Anjuan Simmons – to the wider community and the broader markets to help further the agenda.

In that context, digital transformation also presents another major opportunity. Digital transformation by its very nature opens borders, diversifies candidate pools and helps bring a broader variety of talent to the table, because jobs are no longer dependent on location but on access. Social prejudices often prevalent in face to face encounters are replaced with digital “anonymous” exchanges, and artificial intelligence done right can help organisations remove biases from tasks such as candidate screening. By embracing this and making diversity and inclusion – or broader social responsibility – a core part of who a company is, employers have the opportunity to create a more empathetic, transparent workforce and a working environment where inclusion, diversity and belonging can thrive. This in turn can become the starting point for a highly successful overall strategy. After all, as research will tell us, the organisations that can create brand intimacy which is built on relationships of reciprocity can expect their customers to be more loyal and they can develop more price resiliency.

My own career path to the C-Suite has taken many twists, turns and stops along the way. Yet with each opportunity I have been able to learn a new skill, see opportunities through a different lens and gain additional perspectives. That variety of role at different levels and the importance of taking next steps which were lateral as well as more senior have been my guiding principles when looking for my next role or opportunity. My goal was never to make it to the C-suite. It was to be the best at my job and develop a rounded backlog of experiences, perspectives and relationships that I could call upon to complete the tasks at hand, whether they were small or large. I wanted to be able to earn the seat at the table and know that I earned it through hard work and determination, and then use that knowledge to add value so that even when others may have doubted me, I could believe in myself. That’s why I purposefully picked roles which were adjacent to one other: from a researcher completing my PhD to a consultant so that I could shift from learning about technology to implementing it; from a consultant to product manager so that I could turn theory into reality and create instead of implement; from a product manager to a marketer so that I could learn how to connect with customers through words and creative story-telling instead of the technology alone.

One common theme throughout all the roles I have taken to get to the C-suite is the importance of relationships and building a network. It is that network, and making every twist and turn – whether good or bad – into an opportunity to learn, be better, adapt and create my own personal approach that has made me who I am and gotten me to where I am today. Yet there is still more to go, more to learn and many more winding roads to travel.

About the author

Genefa MurphyGenefa Murphy is the chief marketing officer for Micro Focus, one of the world’s top 10 enterprise software companies. The role provides a unique position to work across Micro Focus’ 40,000 global customers and partners who face the challenge of being able to run and transform their business.

In her role, Genefa and team define the narrative for Micro Focus in the market, and represent the voice of the customer back into the organisation; influencing product direction, Go-To-Market (GTM) models, and ensuring Micro Focus provides its customers with a unique and prescriptive point of view on how to address the challenges of today’s hyper competitive market. As CMO, Genefa is also responsible for ensuring the success of Micro Focus’s own Digital Transformation – helping the company to make the technology selections that will enable Micro Focus to advance its own engagement with customers.

Genefa has more than 12 years’ experience across various disciplines in the field of technology from consulting, to product management and strategy. Previously, Genefa was the global vice president of corporate marketing and enablement. Genefa holds a BSc in Business IT and a PhD in New Technology Adoption.


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Digital Leaders Week featured

Digital Leaders Week 2021 launches to celebrate, showcase & inspire digital transformation

Digital Leaders Week featured

Digital Leaders Week has launched once again for 2021 to help celebrate, showcase and inspire digital transformation.

The 5th Digital Leaders Week is the brainchild of Digital Leaders, the national initiative promoting digital transformation, leadership and innovation.

Digital transformation is essential for the future of the UK’s economy in the context of a changing trade relationship with the rest of the world. The linchpin of this new world will be the quality of the nation's digital leadership and how these leaders drive outcomes inside the government, enterprise, SMEs and the third sector.

Digital Leaders has created a shared professional space for senior leadership from different sectors promoting effective, long-term digital transformation.

This is the UK’s biggest single gathering of people focused on four key questions driven by digital transformation: What’s next? Why? How? And where? Over 35,000 free sessions have been booked so far by leaders in business, government and charities. These online events will be provided by 315 experts from across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland with over 300 hours of content over the five days.

Caroline DinenageThe event was launched by the four Ministers from the Home Nations, who are responsible for digital in their country. Speaking about the week, Caroline Dinenage MP, Minister for Digital and Culture, DCMS said, "I am really pleased to be launching Digital Leaders Week as we emerge from the pandemic and into a period of turbo charged digital growth."

"The impact of Covid-19 on individual lives and UK businesses cannot be understated, but through the darkness of the last twelve months digital has provided us a beacon of light allowing us to work and stay in touch with our family and friends"

Jacqueline de RojasCommenting on the launch, Jacqueline de Rojas CBE, President of Digital Leaders thanked the weeks sponsor before going onto say,
"All four Ministers have highlighted the importance of digital in supporting us through the pandemic and now in helping them rebuild their economies."

"It is also significant that all four referenced the importance of data in shaping public services and support to where and how it is needed most."

"For me that’s why it is so important to have a National Week that helps all leaders build their digital confidence and helps deliver the digital transformation essential for a positive future for the UK economy and our public services."

Explaining a bit more about the week Robin Knowles, Founder of Digital Leaders Week said, "At Digital Leaders Week #DLWeek we only have the one "Event Pass" - we could call it VIP or Gold, but we think of it as "Your Pass" - Free access to 227 talks, 315 speakers and 38 topics."

"You can join live or access talks on demand afterwards."

"So if you’re facing accelerated digital transformation or if your organisation is, then Digital Leaders Week is your opportunity to find the ideas, networks and hear from services you need to transform during these challenging times"

To find out more about Digital Leaders Week, visit: https://week.digileaders.com/

You can watch the full 'Welcome' video for Digital Leaders Week below:


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woman and man looking at a computer screen with coding, carving a career in tech, digital exclusion

Establishing a new standard – how an evolving business world is shaping the next generation of IT business analysts

woman and man looking at a computer screen with coding, carving a career in techTechnology now permeates every sector of our society, with few businesses today surviving without it. Particularly for large organisations, a slick tech stack and IT function is imperative to ensure processes run smoothly, and for retaining a competitive edge.

As a result, our complete approach to digital transformation is changing. Even as recently as ten years ago, a businesses’ IT team would probably have found themselves battling a barrage of scepticism whenever they wanted to implement a digital change, however small.

But consumers now expect technology to be used by companies to better service them. As competition increases and technology proves its worth time and time again, businesses are beginning to drive their own transformation programmes by identifying problems and leaning on tech specialists for solutions.

In tandem with this shift in direction, analysts are also having to adapt and hone their business acumen. After all, how can you deliver the right solution for your client if you don’t understand the problem they’re facing? Whether it’s developing process maps, working on strategy, analysing costs or negotiating contracts, having the right balance between technical and ‘soft’ skills has never been more important for IT analysts. Based on my experience moving from a graduate analyst to Head of Business Analysis at one of the UK’s leading technology and engineering companies, here are the top three most essential skills that analysts today must have:

Listen and engage

If there is one thing I have learnt in my time as a BA (business analyst), it is that poor communication frequently leads to failure.

You could spend two years building and integrating a new system into a client’s existing tech stack. It could be a system that you know full well and have full confidence has the potential to catapult that business into the future. But if that system does not integrate seamlessly with the wider organisation – both practically and culturally – you can guarantee that it will not be used, leading to a huge amount of wasted time and money.

It’s a frustrating but a common situation to be in and it’s also why it’s so important for IT consultants to have good communication skills.

I often see businesses fall into silos as a mistrust toward technology and ‘IT people’ builds a barrier between them and you. In their view, you are there to change the way they work and many people – particularly those that have worked at the business for a long time – will not like that.

So it’s your job to take the lead in building this trusting relationship. That means taking the client on the transformation journey from the very beginning so that they can see and understand the progress and benefits first-hand.

It starts with listening and understanding your client’s goals so that you can design a system and strategy that will meet those goals. But it also means engaging with the internal IT team, 3rd party vendors and the staff that are going to be using the technology you’re building so you can adapt the tech in a way that’s going to work for them long-term.

Speak their language 

Communication is a two-way street – once you’ve started listening to your client you also need to encourage them to listen to you.

This might seem simple but you’d be surprised how easy it is to assume someone is on board with what you’re saying when really they’re still trying to process what you told them last week!

But you have to remember that whilst technology might feel second nature to you, for many businesses and its people, the idea of digital transformation and all it encompasses is pretty modern and can appear daunting. Not only that, but to someone very senior, IT is just one part of a very large, complicated business narrative for them, so you need to make yourself heard.

In order to build trust and ensure that everyone is in agreement with every decision being made, it’s therefore vital to keep the client part of the dialogue by using language they understand and reporting in a way that’s accurate, digestible and which demonstrates value at every turn.

Training and upskilling the client’s IT team is an important part of this process and it’s something we at Expleo find very rewarding in delivering long-term value and ensuring a business does not revert to old habits. If you can not only show but teach your client how to better run the systems in their own time, things will run a lot more smoothly.

In my experience, more often than not, the IT team just wants to be heard so bringing them on the transformation journey and giving them a voice within their organisation is key.

Keep your eye on the prize

As I mentioned earlier, one of the biggest shifts we’re seeing in the IT landscape is that businesses are now driving digital transformation programmes by scoping out problem areas that they’d like technology consultants to come and fix.

But to really stay ahead of the game, IT analysts today shouldn’t just be able to resolve the problems presented to them – they need to be proactive and identify problems and solutions before they become an issue in the first place.

Understanding the latest technologies and the way the landscape is evolving is very important. This doesn’t just mean researching the latest technologies but also understanding your clients’ sectors inside out so you can better appreciate how their needs are going to change and advise them accordingly. Think of the bigger picture.

At Expleo, we recently conducted some consumer research into what people want future innovations to focus on so we can better consult our clients on what they need to turn their attention to next. In fact, pre-empting client needs and flagging them well in advance is the hallmark of an excellent business relationship and the sign of a really talented business analyst.

It's all about honing your research skills, expanding your knowledge and keeping your eye on the prize.

Challenging, but rewarding

IT has the power to bring about transformative change for businesses and there’s nothing more rewarding than completing a project that you know is going to bring about a truly positive change, both for the organisation and its customers. Becoming a business analyst is a hugely fulfilling career, and no matter how tricky it can be at times, you can guarantee you’ll never stop learning, growing, challenging and surprising yourself.

By Shivani Pankhania, Head of Business Analysis and RPA at Expleoa trusted partner for end-to-end, integrated engineering, quality services and management.

About the author

Shivani PankhaniaShivani Pankhania is Head of Business Analysis at Expleo. With over 15 years’ experience in business analysis and the consultancy arena she has extensive experience across a wide range of sectors in the industry and is well respected across her full client base.  Understanding the importance of an alliance between business objectives and the digital agenda, in particular in the complementary connection of RPA and BPM, she is passionate about delivering and maximising value.  Her focus is on delivering excellence in business analysis and BPM to the fundamental underlying organisation objectives as well as across the full range of strategic decisions across the business.

She is passionate about working towards empowering BAs and to advance their capabilities and careers which form the basis of successful delivery across the BA team environment.


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