employee engagement, happy office

Four ways tech firms can keep employee engagement high when they work remotely

employee engagement, happy officeKirsty Carter, chief of staff for cloud and technology services and solutions provider, Solutionize Global.

With the Coronavirus global pandemic affecting every aspect of normal life, organisations are having to shift quickly to working remotely and for employees to have greater autonomy, with no real idea of how long it will last.

The key challenges for many tech businesses are around retaining engagement, motivation, productivity and minimising panic across a team demographic encompassing different experiences and skillsets.

It’s been well-documented that firms with an engaged team are said to achieve 21% higher profitability according to Gallup. And, furthermore, a huge 85% of organisations are failing to motivate their staff globally – so the importance on getting remote working right shouldn’t be underestimated.

Shifting the workforce to a completely online model can help to safeguard them during challenging trading times, whilst ensuring the enterprise’s bottom line is not impacted too harshly. Business as usual for all stakeholders is crucial right now.

Without a physical office presence there is the potential for the quality of working life and team relationships to falter, alongside strained mental health and wellbeing issues as uncertainty takes its toll.

Additionally, there is a renewed need to ensure that if employees do contract COVID-19 that they follow government guidelines on welfare and isolation, and don’t have worries around sick leave and time-off that might affect their decision making.

Here are some key ways in which employers can encourage – and nurture – employee engagement when remote working.

  1. Starting the day right

A good tip is to begin with a team call – preferably using a video platform – and kick-off the agenda asking employees how they’re doing. During the current climate too, it’s worth asking about their family members as there might be concerns that are impacting colleagues on a physical and mental level. Expectations and deliverables for the day can also be achieved in these calls.

It’s important for tech leaders to understand how successful remote working can be – and how it’s often enhanced with a strong routine and structure, alongside the right support and environment.

Having faith in staff to be autonomous is imperative too – but don’t underestimate the appreciate for regular contact.

  1. Setting up for success

Working from home doesn’t just require routine and discipline, it must also have a workspace that suits employees’ needs.

There may be a request for additional equipment – such as laptops, a second screen, power adaptors, and even chairs and whiteboards! Keeping an inventory of what has been signed-out where – and with who – helps to understand what extra support can be provided. Connectivity needs must also be met, and any additional costs they may incur should be organised to be paid.

And as well as making sure everyone is trained in how to utilise their equipment, it’s important to partner teams up where necessary – to avoid someone feeling alone – and remain in contact with employees throughout. Asking if they’re comfortable in their surroundings can be a major morale boost.

  1. Upskilling and investment

If a tech business is working towards an accreditation or website update, launching a new platform, preparing internal training courses, updating policies and procedures, when working remotely it’s a great time to focus on these projects so that organisations can come out the other side polished, and ready to return to normality.

If the usual roles and responsibilities have been reduced due to market conditions, share links to online training courses and sign teams up for online learning too. Amongst the uncertainty and worry, this could prove to be an ideal time to re-focus the mind and upskill whilst at home.

Providing a platform for development can help organisations reap a wealth of benefits from their employees – something which has never been more pertinent than in a modern-day tech team that’s constantly tasked with staying ahead of the curve, and challenged to survive in turbulent times.

As well as promoting motivation and engagement, this can also underline how leaders want to invest in staff – and their skills – which is especially pertinent during a challenging climate when commitment and loyalty are vital in helping businesses to come out the other side.

  1. Comms, comms and more comms!

Some of the team may never have worked remotely before so it will be a big change for them. Asking senior members of staff – who don’t have reporting lines – to ‘buddy up’ can help motivate and ensure productivity remains at a premium. If, for example, there are 30 reporting lines, it’s a lot for tech leaders to expect staff to remote manage them on their own.

In addition, sending out practical tips on topics such as ‘how to work effectively from home’ and best practice guidelines will help to settle employees who might be new when it comes to operating remotely.

Another good tip for tech firms is to organise ‘virtual socials’ – these can be a mixture of business and team-building. Organisers are advised to change the time of day each time and mix up the invites list so that it keeps things fresh. Ideas for this could include a virtual ‘bring your dog to work’ tea break for 20 minutes or a Friday ‘live at five’ – with a tipple of choice to start the weekend!

By adding in an agenda to these sociable moments – to maximise the outcomes of each catch-up – these can provide fantastic moments for the tech firm to celebrate successes, talk about what’s been difficult, share any new knowledge learnt during upskilling, and deliver business news updates.

This type of regular contact should go a long way towards encouraging a collaborative environment – and keep a team as closely together as though they were all working in one space.

Working remotely requires a little more effort and commitment for many but, in a technology-filled world, there are really no excuses not to be creative and make it work for most organisations.

Kirsty CarterAbout the author

As chief of staff at cloud and technology professional and managed service provider, Solutionize Global, Kirsty’s role focuses on company culture, employee engagement and organisational growth. As well as leading on evolving the team’s in-house training, hiring, professional development and performance management structures, Kirsty acts as an advisor to Solutionize Global’s CEO, David Bentley. First joining the forward-thinking firm in 2019, Kirsty has enjoyed a 12-year, people-focused career and is passionate about investing in people, future-proofing learning and development and creating an efficient HR function to help scale the business.


Kirsty Carter, chief of staff, Solutionize Global

Inspirational Woman: Kirsty Carter | Chief of Staff, Solutionize Global

Kirsty Carter, chief of staff, Solutionize GlobalI’m Kirsty Carter and I am the chief of staff for technology solutions and services provider Solutionize Global.

I have ownership of all people-centric activities – from hiring through to onboarding, professional development and all HR matters.

I also manage our talent acquisition function which specialises in providing technically qualified associates to fill skills gaps in businesses. For organisations to stay afloat, they’re having to innovate and to do so, they need top talent – that’s where our expertise comes in.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

I definitely didn’t in the early days – I was eager to work, learn and add value regardless of the environment. However, when I got into my 30s, I had identified that I felt most fulfilled when I was supporting individuals. There is such value in setting others up for success.

Prior to joining the Solutionize Global team, I had experienced working environments that put profits before anything else and that leads to disappointment, disengagement and ultimately losing all the best talent from the business. I believe passionately that people need to be valued in way that they recognise, and be shown the future and what it can mean for them.

Have you faced any career challenges along the way and how did you overcome these?

A big challenge was the pivot I made when deciding to focus on a people-centric role – and getting prospective employers to buy into this. Despite having had full autonomy over HR in my previous roles, unfortunately, some companies didn’t recognise the complementary experience that I had and how it could lend itself to their vacancy.

We’re fortunate at Solutionize Global that transferrable skills are recognised. We are also do not shy away from talent from outside of the technology industry.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

Navigating the growth that Solutionize Global experienced throughout 2020 – from £9 million to £42 million in turnover! I started in October 2019 and jumped straight into managing the hiring processes for several new staff members. The biggest challenge was making sure the quality was still there even though we were doing everything at pace, and this proved to be vital preparation ahead of the first national lockdown. I’ve taken great pride in developing a Virtual Hiring and Onboarding experience within our business too.

What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success?

Having integrity – doing the right thing, when nobody is looking. If you’ve got the trust from your senior leadership team to work autonomously and bring ideas to the table, there’s nothing you can’t do.

I have built this into the SG hiring process, I explore a candidate’s values and behaviours before I move into the competency and experience. I believe this has contributed to our growth during the pandemic. Although we are all different, our values and expectations of one another are aligned.

What top tips would you give to an individual who is trying to excel in their career in technology?

Remember that your existing skillset is fundamentally important. You might not have a tech background but that doesn’t mean you don’t have attributes to offer the industry. After all, you might come up with different ideas compared with tech-focused colleagues to drive the business forward.

Additionally, read everything! I’ve signed up to a lot of newsletters from various sectors which has helped to give me a breadth of information across multiple professions.

Finally, I’d recommend booking one-to-ones with the subject matter experts in your business. Do not shy away from your training needs, your colleagues should be there to support and guide you through it.

Do you believe there are still barriers for success for women working in tech, if so, how can these barriers be overcome?

There are challenges, thankfully I’ve never experienced any in our organisation. We have a gender split of 63:37 (women:men) with regard to our permanent inhouse employees, which could be seen as quite surprising for our industry.

It comes down to your culture and leadership – are you hiring the best people for the job or overlooking top talent purely because you’re used to bringing in similar individuals time and time again? Only companies can answer this and address it.

What do you think companies can do to support and progress the careers of women working in technology?

Acknowledge that skills are transferrable – don’t simply look at a CV or job title and think someone can’t add value. Explore what they have been delivering throughout their working life.

Also, make sure there are equal opportunities and family friendly policies in place – having these, and simply publishing them on your intranet, isn’t enough. You need to review their effectiveness regularly.

And, if we’ve learnt anything recently, it’s about the importance of providing an agile working environment that can adapt to — and embrace — everyone’s remote working circumstances.

Finally, make sure your job ads aren’t accidentally gender-biased in the way they’re worded. They should be designed to attract the right mix of people – for example, highlighting flexible hours, the inclusive culture, and annual leave expectations that support people who are trying to juggle multiple roles in their home.

There is currently only 15% of women working in tech. If you could wave a magic wand, what is the one thing you would do to accelerate the pace of change for women in the industry?

Be open to hiring from other industries, and live and breathe your inclusive policies.

Leaders must be human in their communications and immerse themselves in providing a motivated, secure working environment and thriving culture. Now’s the time to trust employees that provide value, and not focus solely on gender.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?

My CIPD membership is a fantastic resource for engagement, remote working, and virtual onboarding. I subscribe to an employment lawyer too, Daniel Barnett, to keep abreast of the latest legal guidance that could impact our team. Our lawyers and recruiters also deliver webinars on topics such as IR35 and these are incredibly helpful when expanding my knowledge.

Overall, I’d recommend that people not only looking at tech-specific resources but other subjects away from their trade to widen their understanding of what goes into a thriving business.


WeAreTechWomen has a back catalogue of thousands of Inspirational Woman interviews, including Professor Sue Black OBE, Debbie Forster MBE, Jacqueline de Rojas CBE, Dr Anne-Marie Imafidon MBE and many more. You can read about all our amazing women here


watching a virtual conference on a laptop, zoom call, video call

Can virtual onboarding attract top talent?

Article by Kirsty Carter, Solutionize Global

watching a virtual conference on a laptop, zoom call, video callJoining an organisation can be both daunting and exhilarating.

However, when new and future recruits are unable to meet their colleagues face-to-face or even get a feel for what their physical office space might look like – especially during a global crisis – can they really get to know their company and be a part of the team?

The truth is, they absolutely can. That’s because – when it’s done right – hiring and settling in a talented individual exclusively online can help to break down any ‘formal’ barriers. It also provides a more time and cost-efficient process for both parties and takes away any issues that might occur from commuting.

This is, of course, all on the basis that the correct planning has been completed beforehand, and there is a structure in place that is agile enough to welcome a new recruit into the team seamlessly – even when they’ve never stepped foot into the office.

Now known as ‘virtual onboarding’, this way of embedding a colleague provides an alternative option for many organisations that are continuing to navigate the pressures that come with growing a business during a pandemic – and beyond.

For several modern-day firms, they’re exploring fresh and exciting ways in which they not only attract the brightest talent but retain their future services too. And virtual onboarding can play a pivotal role in driving many employment models forward, as a result.

That’s because a technology-first approach presents so many opportunities for employees that want to work flexibly and remotely – or via a hybrid mix of an office and home setting.

From an enterprise’s point of view, it widens the talent pool geographically and – if they’ve hired effectively – means that new additions can operate autonomously and settle in quickly to a supportive team culture.

Easing any ‘first day’ nerves

In the first few moments at a new firm, employees are typically looking to understand internal operations swiftly, get to know their colleagues and hit the ground running in a positive way.

And with technology enabling that process to all be done virtually, this can help individuals feel as though they’re receiving as good – if not better – of a welcome compared to stepping foot into the physical office for the first time.

Utilising video conferencing tools can ensure communication remains a high priority and any questions that a new employee has, can be made without vast disruption, or spending the time booking a meeting room to have a quiet conversation.

Speaking to colleagues can be made into more of a social event too – such as a virtual coffee morning – to avoid any intimidating, more ‘formal’ gatherings. And by inviting people into instant messaging groups and apps, these can all enhance the virtual onboarding process even further.

Creating leaders throughout the workforce

On the other side of the coin, a digital-first approach to talent recruitment can also empower existing members of the team. Encouraging them to host their own specialist sessions for a new recruit – whether social media, HR, or software demonstrations – can all help the workforce dynamic and upskill everyone as a result.

All of these elements form a critical part of a successful virtual onboarding process – and this can often only take days and weeks online rather than months and years to achieve in person.

And when things can be done seamlessly and swiftly, that means new additions can begin to add value as quickly as possible – and with that comes trust, loyalty, and employee ‘buy-in’ of an enterprise’s core values – because they feel like they’re being supported and motivated throughout.

Of course, virtual onboarding can take more planning and structure than when it’s done in a face-to-face environment. For example, employees who have joined a team and only operated online will require everything in place beforehand so they can truly hit the ground running from their first day. That means providing laptops, work phones, IT security software and passwords.

Ultimately, it’s about engaging with new staff, encouraging the wider team to get involved, and being flexible and communicative throughout. Providing an alternative, agile way to embed a recruit can open up more doors to attract a wider talent pool, and could help firms take a huge leap forward when it comes to tackling the ongoing technological skills shortage.

Kirsty Carter, chief of staff, Solutionize GlobalAbout the author

Attracting, developing and engaging the very best people at Solutionize Global is just one of Kirsty’s specialisms in the business. Embodying the technology solutions and services provider’s commitment to reliability and availability, she works tirelessly to ensure the team is the most successful version of itself.

A devotee to ensuring that the enterprise’s culture strikes the right balance of support and self-motivation, Kirsty recognises that empowering employees to fly, in turn, provides clear benefits to customers and drives growth throughout the organisation.


WeAreTechWomen covers the latest female centric news stories from around the world, focusing on women in technology, careers and current affairs. You can find all the latest gender news here

Don’t forget, you can also follow us via our social media channels for the latest up-to-date gender news. Click to follow us on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube


Brand authenticity and your bottom line – the perfect mix for company growth

Article by Rachel McElroy, chief marketing officer, Solutionize Global

young Asian woman looking at laptop, watchin a webinarBrand authenticity during the time of a pandemic is paramount. Curating the right tone and remaining humble — when consumers are living in a state of heightened alertness — will directly impact your bottom line.

How? It makes your organisation relatable, and in times of uncertainty customers will naturally be attracted to anything that feels stable, secure, and ‘normal’.

A study by the Harvard Business Review found that individuals consistently preferred companies that values ‘openness, relevance, empathy, experience, and emotion’ — with a brand’s performance on these points being found to directly impact profit.

And authenticity in a brand’s messaging not only secures an identity of a principled business, but also solidifies its credibility and its commitment to core values – helping consumers feel more comfortable in dealing with them.

A brand can deliver on this when it has clarity of vision — knowing why it exists and what it stands for. This lucidity feeds through to customers, encouraging them to form long-term relationships with not only the business, but the people behind it.

In fact, in an international Cohn and Wolfe survey, 72% of those questioned ranked authenticity above innovation and product uniqueness when asked what they valued most in a brand, evidencing that you could have the best product or service on the market, but will be avoided by prospects if they believe the brand to be dishonest.

But how can you demonstrate that you are authentic? Consumers like to see the human side of business, so being transparent about your path to success and any hardships you have encountered will encourage engagement. Using this form of messaging strategically and consistently throughout your content, messaging, and day-to-day interactions will act as a magnet, drawing people to you.

This attraction to known humanness by consumers explains the rise in user-generated content, the most honest and relatable comms of all.

Authenticity allows individuals to engage with each other in powerful ways, enabling us to innovate together and drive real change within our industries. And it isn’t just limited to our interactions with customers — as a management style, authenticity is engaging and effective, with leaders able to see powerful results by incorporating this approach.

So, how can businesses showcase their values and integrity to consumers? Once you have built your branding strategy and have identified the key parts that make you authentic, investing in long-term brand management efforts are essential.

This should transcend product lines, allowing your business to grow while maintaining a loyal and engaged customer base that is more likely to not only purchase from you, but to become an advocate by recommending you to their networks.

When done correctly, authentic messaging delivers fantastic ROI, but your brand story must stay consistent and aligned to foster a great experience for your customers.

About the author

Rachel McElroy, Solutionize GlobalAs chief marketing officer for technology solutions and services provider, Solutionize Global, Rachel is passionate about maximising customer experience and ensuring the organisation’s quality provision meets every end user’s requirements. As a brand and comms specialist, Rachel delivers high-performing marketing campaigns that celebrate SG’s bespoke service. An eloquent and well-respected industry commentator – especially in the diversity in tech space – commercially-savvy Rachel is a sales enablement expert who crafts tailored messaging to engage and inspire the firm’s wide-ranging customer base, and positively impacts its bottom line.


WeAreTechWomen covers the latest female centric news stories from around the world, focusing on women in technology, careers and current affairs. You can find all the latest gender news here

Don’t forget, you can also follow us via our social media channels for the latest up-to-date gender news. Click to follow us on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube


woman video calling while working on laptop, staying digitally connected 1

Post-COVID-19 comms – the road to a ‘new normal’ for the tech sector

Rachel McElroy, chief marketing officer for technology solutions and services provider, Solutionize Global.

woman video chatting while working on laptop, staying digitally connectedAmid a pandemic, no tech organisation wants to be remembered for the wrong things they’ve said or done during people’s true time of need.

More than ever before, the world has required enterprises to be authentic, empathetic, and human in their communications.

Working in marketing for a £42 million turnover tech firm, my department has been challenged to strike the right balance between optimism and humility – while keeping stakeholders informed throughout. Any long-term plans have typically had to be adapted to ensure we maintain a consistent and appropriate tone of voice.

But how can other firms in our industry strike the right chord as the global economy continues in its quest for ‘normality’? Here are my key points to consider…

Be authentic in the face of a crisis

Honesty, empathy, and trust are all intrinsic elements for tech organisations – possessing all these factors can help set you apart from competitors. And with physical connections being removed because of COVID-19, enterprises have been forced to connect with customers in different ways.

For our marketing team and ‘brand champions’, we’ve made a point of focusing on being ‘human’ and underlining how we truly understand what our audience might be going through. Empathising with challenges that everybody continues to face is critical when cutting through the vast online noise – and for us it’s showed that we do care.

Implementing stakeholder centricity to move beyond the pandemic

I’ve found that by providing strong, timely and honest internal comms can help to achieve that all-important employee buy-in and motivate your colleagues to strive for better outcomes. After all, a purpose-driven ethos should be the embodiment of your company’s vision.

And following the customer feedback we’ve been receiving, it’s clear that they want tech firms to be relatable and only then will they become fully-fledged ‘brand advocates’ who remain loyal to the cause – when you need them the most.

Maintaining a strong sense of culture and values 

Having a robust but agile comms strategy has also been vital for us in terms of tapping into our employee engagement. As a marketer, I’m a big fan of encouraging a flexible, more autonomous culture that comes complete with a flatter hierarchy.

And to do this, our department has had a huge role to play in terms of adapting to vast changes and driving the company ethos cross-departmentally with educational, inspirational, and motivational comms throughout.

For many marketers in our industry, they might not have been accustomed to this type of environment before so it’s important to keep communicating and collaborating – regardless of where colleagues are based and how ‘hybrid’ operations now are – to maintain strong in-house relationships.

Focusing on an agile approach throughout

As customer behaviour continues to change, we as marketers need to not only adjust, review and be prepared to switch direction, but be adaptable to jump on news trends, analyse insights, and ensure we’re reacting to of-the-moment demands. Creativity is key to all this and adopting an omnichannel experience has proven to be essential for our firm when rolling our effective digital comms.

Post-pandemic, our industry should be living and breathing core values as audience expectations and emotions remain high. The challenge now is to continue being relatable, honest, and authentic. By producing real, open, and consistent comms you can begin to build a truly solid foundation – and create a stronger future for your culture, customer loyalty, and commercial success.

About Rachel McElroy

Rachel McElroy, Solutionize GlobalAs chief marketing officer for technology solutions and services provider, Solutionize Global, Rachel is passionate about maximising customer experience and ensuring the organisation’s quality provision meets every end user’s requirements. As a brand and comms specialist, Rachel delivers high-performing marketing campaigns that celebrate SG’s bespoke service. An eloquent and well-respected industry commentator – especially in the diversity in tech space – commercially-savvy Rachel is a sales enablement expert who crafts tailored messaging to engage and inspire the firm’s wide-ranging customer base, and positively impacts its bottom line.

 


If you are a job seeker or someone looking to boost their career, then WeAreTechWomen has thousands of free career-related articles. From interview tips, CV advice to training and working from home, you can find all our career advice articles here


women in tech, soft skills featured

When are soft – or key – skills more vital than technical attributes?

Rachel McElroy, chief marketing officer for technology solutions and services provider, Solutionize Global

women in tech, soft skillsWhen striving towards what the ‘complete package’ should often entail for a perfect tech team, thoughts will typically head straight towards technical capability in cloud architecture, networking, AI, security and machine learning.

And whilst all of these are vital for an innovative and digital-first workforce – as well as being much sought-after during a skills shortage in the industry – several organisations need to be cautious to fully appreciate how other personality traits can prove to be pivotal, and of utmost importance in many situations.

These are typically known as ‘soft skills’ and include characteristics – such as decision-making and leadership – that employees should possess. They embody complex problem-solving, critical thinking and creativity – exactly what an all-encompassing tech team requires when working on its next large innovative project or building out its IT architecture and networks.

However, before delving into this any further, it’s important to underline that there isn’t anything ‘soft’ about these attributes – and they should be referred to as ‘key skills’ instead. Why? Because nothing ‘mellow’ exists in such traits, they actually highlight an individual’s strength and how they empower and collaborate with others. These employees shouldn’t feel like they have a characteristic that doesn’t contribute towards a team’s overall commercial success – it should be quite the opposite, as this Future of Work report suggests.

Having keys skills goes a long way towards staff understanding both new technologies and how such benefits can be communicated throughout the workforce and to the end user. Those who can do this – in a manner that’s collaborative and personable – possess the traits every modern-day tech team needs to deliver successful outcomes.

Enterprises that do focus on key characteristics such as these, make strong choices when it comes to hiring their next addition to the team – the importance is how they’ll fit into the company, rather than what they understand from a tech point of view.

But that’s not to say that technical skills should be overlooked, it’s about utilising a range of attributes so that the organisation becomes more user-focused and intuitive, in-line with advancing digital methods which continue to meet the end user’s evolving requirements.

Looking deeper at the detail to truly define what the advantages to soft – or rather key – skills are, continual learning and development is a good starting point. With many tech enterprises operating on much flatter organisational structures and promoting agile, self-managing ways of working, individuals who are willing to enhance their skillsets whilst on-the-job are a huge asset for their organisations.

Additionally, empowering staff members to upskill, giving them time and plans for personal development and allowing them to hone their natural flair will often motivate them to ‘do more’ as they repay the investment made in them. Additionally, they’re often more likely to have a positive attitude as a valued team player who enjoys empowering and mentoring the next generation.

Those who embrace change – and want to learn new technologies at the rapid rate in which they advance – are also strong advocates for determining commercial success because they’re able to stay ahead of the curve. And from a mental health point of view, offers of development opportunities or formal training paths can make employees feel that they belong and are part of something special.

As agile learners, individuals with key skills can typically communicate well with various teams – from customer service through to technical architects – adapting their language to suit each group. Such employees can also reinvigorate creativity that filters throughout their workforce, as their passion and ability to bounce ideas off others helps to provide a positive, motivated and engaging environment.

In addition, empathy plays a vital role when it comes to understanding the end user’s needs. Putting themselves in the shoes of the person who is trying out the technology – or plugging in an automated solution – can often be the difference between building long-term relationships and seeing a customer move to a competitor. This differential can prove to be pivotal when determining commercial success because, without a loyal audience, a tech firm’s entire enterprise falls flat.

When analysing empathy too, it’s important for business leaders to understand that colleagues all have personal lives, real emotions and problems. As humans, there is a duty of care to be supportive, counsel, and acknowledge that many situations will manifest during working hours. Therefore, people who possess a degree of empathy can make the in-house environment a much better place for both employees and end users.

Going back to key and tech skills – all are imperative when running a well-oiled machine that’s capable of innovating and evolving to remain relevant in a tough, and saturated, marketplace. Overall, the two need to align, and organisations must truly understand when the ‘softer’ attributes should be the focus over operational skills, to enjoy a diverse, motivated and collaborative workplace.

About the author

As chief marketing officer for technology solutions and services provider, Solutionize Global, Rachel is passionate about maximising customer experience and ensuring the organisation’s quality provision meets every end user’s requirements. As a brand and comms specialist, Rachel delivers high-performing marketing campaigns that celebrate SG’s bespoke service. An eloquent and well-respected industry commentator – especially in the diversity in tech space – commercially-savvy Rachel is a sales enablement expert who crafts tailored messaging to engage and inspire the firm’s wide-ranging customer base, and positively impacts its bottom line.


If you are a job seeker or someone looking to boost their career, then WeAreTechWomen has thousands of free career-related articles. From interview tips, CV advice to training and working from home, you can find all our career advice articles here


How to create a people strategy for your tech organisation in four simple steps

Kirsty Carter, chief of staff at cloud and technology services and solutions provider, Solutionize Global.

Team holding hands, diversityIf recent events have taught firms anything, it’s that people lie at the heart of their business’s success. Whether that’s employees or customers, both can dramatically impact a company’s crucial bottom line – and not always for the better.

For tech firms to truly prosper, they must seek to maximise success by creating value, growth and opportunity – for all concerned. That means finding – and integrating – people strategies that drive an enterprise forward and create a sustainable framework which can be adapted and constantly improved.

Having a defined people strategy means that a company understands the role in which individuals play – and how the business delivers on its objectives. Additionally, for those organisations with a firm proposition in place, they must find a way to help their teams work alongside technology to ultimately make them more productive, motivated and efficient for their enterprises.

There’s no doubt that the digital revolution is reshaping the way in which everybody lives their lives – and how it has diversified and modernised companies to remain relevant. And, as business strategies undergo a fundamental re-think, the same must be done for every workforce blueprint.

As first referenced, colleagues are at the core of any business – regardless of what products or services are being offered. They’re the lifeblood of any organisation, because they can determine the success or failure of something instantly.

So, where can tech enterprises even begin when it comes to rolling out a modern-day framework that is agile and human-centred in its approach? Here are four initial steps digital leaders should take…

  1. Develop a strong company culture

A huge focus – particularly throughout the unprecedented events of 2020 – has been around employee engagement and motivation, following the UK’s mass move to remote working.

For many tech firms, they might have already had a robust infrastructure in place – whereby teams were typically rolling out a current model that involved a seamless pathway to working from home. However, even for the most agile of organisations – and their digital leaders – they would’ve been naïve to think that their staff would remain productive if their people strategy was simply sitting stagnant.

A strong team plan begins by implementing and driving a company culture that thrives and meets everyone’s needs. It should not only provide an open environment where all voices are heard, but support individuals, develop colleagues and welcome innovative collaboration.

The impetus lies with tech leaders themselves to build a model that aligns their business structure and strategy with company culture. Ultimately, a positive atmosphere inspires creativity, energises growth, and motivates a change and willingness to do better as a ‘destination employer’.

Develop, implement and sustain a reward and recognition system – where  employees feel empowered to honour and celebrate with their peers, colleagues and team members – and  that will go a long way to breeding a positive mindset, from the inside out.

  1. Establish core values and make them the foundations of your business

Any forward-thinking tech firm should take the time to identify exactly what their brand represents, and the role that their employees play. Keeping staff unified and motivated to do a good job is therefore imperative.

Those that fail to follow through with promises – and deliver empty gestures – may see their workforces begin to lose faith. And when core values deteriorate, reinvigorating a collaborative team could soon become an impossible task.

Understanding what the organisation – and its people – stand for, and implementing those beliefs and drive is critical for employee buy-in. All of these factors bring together a well-rounded people strategy that not only typically creates an unbreakable bond between colleagues but also attracts more business and top talent – to further bolster the company’s growth plans and future-proof its blueprint.

  1. Develop policies and practices

Without specific guidelines that underpin the foundations in which a company is built upon – that embodies sensible HR and legal principles – a tech enterprise can fall at the first hurdle.

Assisting employees to understand how the firm is run enables them to not only meet expectations, but illustrates long-term loyalty that’s embedded in a culture of wanting to be better every single day.

In addition, making sure staff know exactly where these policies sit – and the practices  they must undergo at each stage of their employment – relies  on effective communication from the outset.

  1. Talent acquisition

What makes a tech firm different from the vast digital noise so that they stand out to recruits? In order to attract highly skilled individuals – boasting attributes that will further enhance an organisation – there must be a strong differentiator. And that’s typically down to how powerful its people strategy remains.

Company culture and a clear mission with key guidelines and believable core values – all with technology firmly in place to sophisticate employees’ productivity and sharpen their firm’s offering – are vital ingredients when it comes to acquiring new additions.

Innovators and change-makers know exactly how to bolster a business’s bottom line – but is the company right for them? Does it stand for what they value too? If so, this could be a key factor when determining whether a job-hunter hits send on their online application form or keeps scrolling past.

Having a comprehensive framework that’s supportive, provides development opportunities and an exceptional company culture can captivate talent. It will help to build a team full of loyal members who each play a pivotal role and place the organisation – and its end user’s – interests firmly at the forefront of their minds throughout.

To bring together a successful people strategy, there are key differentiators – and HR professionals must decide how each one impacts the overall framework. Whatever technological innovations lie ahead, it comes down to the investment in people that will make the difference between eventual success and failure.

Kirsty Carter, chief of staff, Solutionize GlobalAbout the author 

As chief of staff at cloud and technology services and solutions provider, Solutionize Global, Kirsty’s role focuses on company culture, employee engagement and organisational growth. As well as leading on evolving the team’s in-house training, hiring, professional development and performance management structures, Kirsty acts as an advisor to Solutionize Global’s CEO, David Bentley. First joining the forward-thinking firm in 2019, Kirsty has enjoyed a 12-year, people-focused career and is passionate about investing in people, future-proofing learning and development and creating an efficient HR function to help scale the business.

 


If you are a job seeker or someone looking to boost their career, then WeAreTechWomen has thousands of free career-related articles. From interview tips, CV advice to training and working from home, you can find all our career advice articles here


female data scientist, woman leading team

What is an agile workforce and why should your tech firm care?

female data scientist, woman leading teamArticle provided by Rae Evans, marketing executive for managed and professional services cloud tech consultancy, Solutionize Global

Agile development methodology is evolving swiftly – and it’s proving to be more difficult for some enterprises than others, as every organisation does its utmost to remain relevant and competitive.

There’s often not a week that passes by without a company adopting a ‘fresh and agile’ approach, tweak, or innovation. But why is it becoming more pertinent to transform an organisation this way, especially within the tech sector?

Perhaps the answer lies at the very heart of innovation. For companies exploring a digital-first process, it must be understood that they not only have to possess the capability to respond to any change in an agile way – but ensure it’s done rapidly too.

That’s because disruption in the tech sector is often significant and constant. Therefore, savvy enterprises – with the correct infrastructure in place to deal with transformation swiftly – are in a much stronger position to deliver compelling value propositions.

It’s something many businesses are currently focusing on too, in order to stay ahead of the curve. According to a recent KPMG study – which surveyed professionals across Europe, Asia and US – 81 per cent of organisations have delivered at least one agile transformation project within the last three years. The study also found 63 per cent of leaders see agility as a strategic priority for both the entire firm and the IT infrastructure it has in place.

With an agile workforce comes a greater, more enriched, responsive experience that’s efficient, embraces change positively and adapts to capitalise upon emerging trends. Overall, it’s about being agile rather than doing agile.

But how can tech leaders help their employees embody such a cultural mindset? And what does an ‘agile team’ look like?

Having the ability to adopt a flexible approach

Top tech teams work flexibly, invest in learning, drive evolution – instead of responding to it – and are consistently motivated by change. They typically know when their firms should undergo transformation, and take proactive steps long before the project or strategy has even been launched.

Maintaining a competitive edge

Shifting market trends and changing project requirements often create a moving target that can drain resources and hinder project success. Therefore, it’s up to an agile workforce to understand how revolutionary a business model can be – and its importance when providing a commercial advantage.

With any strategy, the end goal is always achieving the optimum customer experience – and enterprises showcasing nimble and adaptable traits can evolve their plans to maintain a killer instinct.

Rolling out swift decisions

Technology provides businesses with the ability to analyse data so they can make key commercially driven judgements and think on their feet – and both are critical if they are to become an agile organisation.

Forward-thinking firms should also already have adopted a flatter hierarchy which encourages teams to be self-managing and provide them with the necessary tools so that they don’t have to go through countless phases of approvals, in order to enforce a decision.

Possessing the willingness to upskill

There has never been a greater time for tech organisations to motivate their existing workforces – thanks to the extensive development opportunities now available online.

With teams expected to deliver value at speed, every colleague has a pivotal role to play in making every project a success. That often means growing and learning together from one iteration to the next, motivating everyone to all pull in the same direction.

Following Randstad’s recent Workplace study – which found 68 per cent of employers believe the majority of their organisations will have an agile work arrangement by 2025 – this shift means business leaders are rethinking their office needs and roles. Therefore, a modern-day culture has become an incredibly important asset when attracting, and retaining, top talent.

Embracing a diverse environment

No revolutionary company even begin to be agility-focused without having a workforce that boasts a variety of technical and soft skills, perspectives and backgrounds. Quite simply, diversity provides a fresh and dynamic approach to digital disruption.

Having such a range of skills is not only crucial for a digitally savvy atmosphere to survive and thrive in a challenging marketplace, but it should enable organisations to bring something different to the table – so it maintains a competitive, disruptive edge.

Agile adoption will prove to be an easier concept for some organisations over others, but it’s no longer enough to rely on harnessing the best technology. Enterprises must delve deeper and foster a culture that encourages innovation and creative output – whilst attracting the right people who can deliver strategic, commercially driven and transformational goals.


women in tech, soft skills featured

Six reasons why modern-day tech workforces need soft skills to survive

women in tech, soft skills

Every tech leader strives towards having the full package when offering the very best service, meaning HR departments and hiring teams can spend a huge amount of time finding the right fits for their organisations.

An all-encompassing tech team builds out a business’s IT architecture and networks. It knows how to deploy a new software release with ease and can talk many different coding languages.

But as cloud services and technology become more user-focused and intuitive – and many traditionally repetitive tasks turn to automation via machine learning and AI – this has led to a shift towards the importance of being ‘human’.

Soft skills are playing more of a vital role within a digital team, and those who overlook the personalities and characters that can drive success, will set themselves up to fail, regardless of the amazing tech that the business possesses.

It’s therefore becoming inevitable that tech enterprises should be focusing on more specific traits and personalities that can add to a team’s dynamic – and here are six reasons why.

Improving communication

Unfortunately for the younger workforce, whilst being digital natives it’s also well-documented how many can often struggle to communicate face-to-face – 40 per cent are lacking soft skills according to recent reports – because they are more used to online interaction.

But communicating strongly has a wide-reaching effect and having that ability to use appropriate language for different stakeholders, negotiate with several departments, and ensure feedback is constructive – and egos are left at the door – can all help individuals express themselves, and positively motivate colleagues.

Having the confidence to provide clear and concise solutions, whilst showing respect to listen to other voices, showcases overall, strong communicative skills.

Encouraging collaboration

The clue here is in the word ‘team’ – an acronym of this being ‘Together Everyone Achieves More’ – as this is the essence of collaboration.

Yes, people are great individually, but the real power in business comes from assembling a group with varied strengths, in order to supercharge success.

Being able to collaborate effectively alongside diverse characters is a key soft skill. A team could have a wide and varied demographic, encompass on and off-site resource, or be made up of contractors and permanent workers, but if they can all work cohesively, they can deliver the best possible outcomes. 

Instilling empathy

With the need to be user-focused and provide the greatest experience and products for end users, employees should be able to show they care and understand how others feel. Those who are empathetic towards customers interacting with their product and services can build strong relationships too.

Colleagues all have personal lives, real emotions and problems – as humans, there is a duty of care to be supportive, counsel, and acknowledge that many situations will manifest during working hours. A little empathy makes the in-house environment a much better place.   

Proving to be adaptable

Digital disruption! The team should live and breathe change as new technologies, ways of working, software, hardware – and everything in-between – burst onto the scene. Those who fail to adapt or don’t see change as an opportunity, rather than a chore, will ultimately struggle.

Employees keen to upskill are vital when it comes to addressing the global tech talent shortage. By educating themselves to further understand emerging trends, a new platform or cloud migration, this can provide huge benefits – both individually and operationally.

On a mental health note too, taking up development opportunities or formal training paths can empower staff, and make them feel incredibly valuable to their firm.

Empowering future leaders

Many enterprises now exist with a flatter organisational structure and are moving towards a more agile approach – enabling the self-management of teams who are all focused on the operation's overall outcomes.

A person with a natural flair for leadership will be self-motivated, interested in business development and have an entrepreneurial spirit. Within a successful tech team, these leaders should be capable of painting a strong picture of where the firm is going and the utopia that exists.

Effective collaborators should also be confident when helping others to visualise how they can consistently tweak and update projects in-line with the ever-changing market requirements too, and lead teams towards success – before competitors do.

Reinvigorating creativity

Strategy, planning and future results – what drives a team positively? This final soft skill covers employees who possess vibrant, engaging ideas that are essential to help a business stand out.

Some creative suggestions might seem a little off the mark, and others will be nearly spot-on and just a little tweak required. However, the point is to build a culture allowing people to feel comfortable to voice and share their thoughts – organisations empowering staff can be hugely attractive to top talent, too.

A popular interview question for many years was, “tell me when you used your initiative in a situation?” It’s time for employees to forget that, and instead explain how one of their ideas can improve the world! 

Having a complete team boasting technical and soft skills is no mean feat, but personalities and certain character traits should not be overlooked when searching for the best talent. A group eager to disrupt the industry positively, work collaboratively and keep embracing change can be a huge advantage in the sustainability of a tech business.

Rachel McElroy, Solutionize GlobalAbout the author

Rachel McElroy is the chief marketing officer of managed and professional services cloud tech consultancy, Solutionize Global.


Cloud Leadership white paper

Cloud Leadership, The Definitive Guide | Solutionize Global

Cloud Leadership white paper

What are the challenges of leading people through the changing landscape of industry 4.0? And how does diversity, digital and change management all play a vital role?

In Solutionize Global’s most ambitious white paper to date, the managed and professional services cloud and tech consultancy has gathered global industry leaders, including Microsoft Dell, HP, Servicenow and Cloud Industry Forum, to produce the extensive document – that’s free to download now.

Uncovering the common pitfalls, considerations and tips involved with maximising cloud infrastructure, ‘Cloud Leadership, The Definitive Guide’ digs deep into what the future holds for the tech industry.

DOWNLOAD THE REPORT NOW