People & Leadership

HR in the tech sector: 5 challenges in 2022 and how to overcome them

The great resignation is upon us, and the tech sector is feeling it. How can HR leaders nurture their employees and attract new talent?

Many technology companies have performed well over the past couple of years. But they’ve still come up against many of the same challenges HR leaders in other sectors have faced.

It’s true to say that HR leaders across the board have had a lot to handle – from shifting to remote working and prioritising employee wellbeing on the HR agenda – and that’s not even considering the latest challenge: The great resignation.

The big question now looming over HR is: what can be done to continue attracting and retaining top talent in this climate?

To help HR and People leaders in the technology space to do just that and prepare for the challenges and opportunities ahead in 2022, we asked several HR and People leaders for their advice.

Here’s what they have to say:

1. Watch out for the great resignation and nurture your current talent

2. Hybrid work will continue to shake up how we work, so prep your organisation

3. Be mindful of digital exhaustion and support work-life balance

4. Retaining employees will be challenging, so think about a ‘work smart’ culture

5. Don’t use tech to drive the strategy, drive the strategy with tech

The great resignation is upon us but the fundamentals haven’t changed

Almost one in four workers in the UK are planning a job change within the next three to six months, with workers in the tech sector most confident they would find a new role.

However, that leaves HR with a huge challenge for many more months to come, as Mervyn Dinnen, author of Digital Talent, and analyst and influencer on HR, talent and work-tech trends explains: “The biggest challenge for HR leaders working within the technology sector is undoubtedly how to attract, then retain, the talent they need.

“We are currently seeing talent shortages across all business sectors, so technology companies can no longer assume their sector has an advantage.”

Instead, he says, technology companies must focus on creating workplace cultures that enable them to be competitive with other sectors.

The first step towards achieving this, he continues, is to create a culture of learning within an organisation, with a keen focus on helping employees to develop their skills within the business.

“The business of tomorrow won’t be based around creating jobs, but on developing skills, so creating a culture of learning is essential,” says Mervyn.

Companies with flexible, hybrid work styles are almost more likely to attract top talent than companies that don’t prioritise this.

Nicole Roberts, vice president of People and Culture at MVAH Partners LLC, agrees that culture will be key to attracting talent and explains that all HR leaders, no matter the sector, “must be clear on their values and culture and what sets them apart, then use that to craft their people experience”.

Over a third (40%) of employers) say they expect more than half their workforce to work regularly from home after the pandemic has ended.

For office-based roles – including ones in the tech sector, that’s likely to be much higher.

Many tech giants are leading the way: Microsoft, Amazon, Meta, Alphabet and Apple to name a few, but soon it’s likely we’ll all be working in a similar way.

Martin Woodrow, head of human resources at Rakuten Americas, urges HR leaders to start to think from a remote and hybrid working first point of view now to prepare for 2022, firstly by getting the C-suite on board.

“HR should position itself to the C-suite as its leading advisor on connecting what employees value and what they spend their time on,” he says, while at the same time keeping “focused on asking the right questions, providing scalable processes and solutions, staying on top of the data, and listening to employees”.

This, he believes, is the most important step in making sure the company’s offering remains competitive with the rest of the market.

You’ll also want to consider what this means for your policies.

Mary Jantsch, head of talent at Elpha, explains how policies and philosophies will help people understand their rights, responsibilities, and privileges at the company, and ensure they feel supported and included.

“As more and more teams convert to remote and distributed work as their future, documentation becomes increasingly important,” Mary explains.

“And making sure everyone on your team understands how they grow and develop, and how that impacts their compensation, is key to both attracting and retaining top talent.”

Digital exhaustion continues to rise. While many tech companies are involved in bringing new products and features to market in the fight against it, tech employees themselves aren’t immune to digital burnout.

It’s something that Mai Lan Nguyen, head of HR at Schneider Electric, explains HR leaders will need to tackle in 2022:

“As HR professionals, it will be our job to address the growing ‘digital exhaustion’ and mental health impacts that have been sparked by the remote work era.”

Hybrid working, as we’ve discussed, will continue to shake up the world of work, but it will also help HR leaders in 2022 to support employees’ work-life balance.

For businesses making the move, Mai Lan stresses the importance of “making the hybrid work model flexible, so that it can adapt to what people need”, so employees have a healthy work-life balance.

What else can HR leaders do beyond hybrid working?

Mai Lan explains HR leaders must create “meaningful and engaging employee experiences to encourage tech employees to create a work-life balance”, and HR and People leaders should also arm “employees with necessary skillset to use technology to their advantage”.

As we’ve already mentioned, the great resignation is turning the job market upside down, so it won’t only be a challenge attracting new employees but retaining your current ones, too.

As Dave Millner, founder and consulting partner at HR Curator, points out: “Retaining great employees is easier than recruiting new ones to fill vacancies.”

So, what’s the answer?

Dave echoes Mervyn’s point that culture sits at the heart of this, but not just about learning and development but across the whole culture piece.

He explains HR needs to build a “work smart culture” is one where HR leaders “can establish a better work-life balance for employees”, and one in which companies “value learning, development and advancement opportunities, while also developing transparent involvement strategies that connect employees with their jobs and the organisation”.

By creating this environment, HR leaders in the technology industry will be in a strong position to ride out the great resignation, but also long term enable HR leaders to provide current employees with great experiences.

“This is a time to get closer, not become more distant from the needs, values and insights of employees,” he says.

If you work in tech, it’s likely you love tech – and it does have a huge part to play in helping HR leaders.

However, it’s vital to know when to step away from it and to start from the ‘human’ and what the strategy needs to be.

HR’s challenge will be to “remember that business if still fundamentally a human thing based on relationships”, and to start there, not the technology, says Jacob Morgan, author, futurist and host of the Be Your Own Boss podcast.

Jacob adds: “I would encourage HR leaders to ask questions, come up with new ideas, and above all, not to be scared of failure or making mistakes.”

Ultimately, he explains, the fundamental basis of business is human connection – and it is from this basis that HR leaders must look to build their strategies.

At a time when Randstad reports one in four workers are planning to change jobs, there’s no doubt the great resignation will define HR in 2022.

It doesn’t mean you should just sit and watch your talent fly out the door, though.

You need to nurture your current employees too, look after their wellbeing and support the workplace culture.

As our HR and People experts have expressed, if there’s one sector that can stem the flow of outbound employees, it’s technology.

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