BritTech & The Shortage Economy: 6 Steps Clients Must Take To Succeed
Paul Wright, Head of our B2B Technology Practice, reflects on the tumultuous times in the BritTech space and highlights why change and disruption are equally sources of opportunity and growth.
Let us rewind to March 2020. Counter-intuitively to what we might have expected, in the earliest stages of the pandemic, BritTech surged, perhaps because we did not fully understand or truly feel the impact of Covid at the time. As the UK’s largest provider of executive talent on-demand, we saw our third year of record growth in interim recruitment across the sector.
Fast forward to Q2 and Q3 of 2020, hiring had dipped pretty drastically even whilst the sector moved rapidly to a digital workplace facilitating the big pivot to remote working for themselves and their clients. While new hires fell by 30-40%, we witnessed a natural crossover with emergency hires for specific business areas with UK Tech clients focussing on financial engineering, HR restructuring an and improving operational efficiency together with customer experience, for both new and old clients.
BritTech & The Shortage Economy: What We See
But change and disruption are always a source of opportunity and growth, and since autumn of 2020 the BritTech sector has seen a continuous uptick in recruitment, all the way through Lockdown 2.0. Talent demands then shifted to different areas of hiring, with product management, engineering, and project and client delivery at the forefront of new CEO minus one and minus two appointments.
Since the beginning of Q2 of this year, against a backdrop of a Shortage Economy of energy and supply chain shocks, which the Tech industry has felt mostly in electronics, photonics hardware and silicon chips, the sector is experiencing its own skills shortage. In their latest Technology Report, global management consultancy firm Bain & Company are predicting massive shortages in tech skills in the USA, ranging from a predicted 60% across engineering to a possible whopping 690% spike in demand for customer success. And we’re seeing this play out now here in the UK.
These shortages may not be new , but have been exacerbated by the Great Resurgence, followed in close succession by the Great Resignation. It’s not surprising The Economist is predicting 2022 will be the year of the worker .We’re seeing demand surge across the whole spectrum of executive roles, from VP through SVP to CXO as Heidrich and Struggles report the highest level of CEO resignations globally in decades.
What we’re seeing now is the nexus for demand has pivoted from recovery to growth-oriented hires across sales, marketing and product together with digital transformation, especially in the middle market. The golden thread running through these is digital, data, and cloud – which all require a cyber wrapper – either in the type of role or company.
Whilst some clients in the BritTech space have long realised that there is no longer a surplus of candidates to fill their gaps, not even at CXO level, others haven’t adjusted cognitively . Those at the lagging edge are still running long interim (and permanent) hiring cycles. If it took 4-6 weeks to find and attract the right talent pre-pandemic, it can now often 50% longer, which puts enormous pressure on HR, the client, and the candidate.
Just to put this into perspective, the Technology Practice at Odgers Interim is currently operating at 120% of capacity compared to 2019, and in second Q4 of 2021 we reported the highest number of new opportunities in more than two years. All of which highlights once more, that the Shortage Economy of Skills is here to stay for 2022, and most likely far beyond.
6 Steps BritTech Clients Must Take Now
So, what steps can clients across the BritTech sector take now to ensure they attract and retain the right talent to ensure continued success and business growth?
1. Revamp Employer Value Proposition to differentiate yourself
Employees and potential hires, including interims, are scrutinising companies’ core mission and purpose ever more closely most especially Diversity and Inclusion and Environmental, Social, and Governance policies and practices. We recommend overhauling your EVP to make them front and centre, and socialise them. But employers need to ensure that they not only talk the talk, but actively and transparently walk the walk. To attract the best talent and retain valued staff members, clients need to ensure their policies are public and acted upon to embed them in their business models.
2. Demonstrate Agile Leadership
The saying goes that people do not leave bad jobs, they leave bad managers. Conversely, Agile leaders attracted and retained the best talent in the pandemic enabling their businesses to outperform. As the battle for talent heightens, clients need to critically evaluate their leaders to ensure they adopt or maintain these traits. The Odgers ‘LeaderFit’ evaluation solution, which is made available to our exclusive clients, can be a solution to assist with this. Do they act with authenticity? Do they communicate clearly, transparently and frequently? And are their actions accountable? The better the leader, the better the team, the better the business.
3. Halve Hiring Cycles
Pre-pandemic clients had a much faster hiring cycle, with many placements made within days (our record in one weekend!) or maximum weeks. Clients who are aiming to hire the best candidate available, need to ensure that their hiring cycles are efficient, smooth, and compressed as possible. The best candidate is likely to be sought after by more than one business – do not risk missing out because of out-dated and painfully slow hiring cycles.
4. Evaluate Your Talent Supply Chain
Integrate a strategic and efficient talent acquisition supply chain that spans permanent, interim, freelance and outsourced third parties at all levels from exec down. Do not treat a contract as an afterthought; gaps and challenges will emerge unexpectedly. And engage with suppliers frequently – the investment in time will gain which will help you with market intelligence and enable you to hire faster, hire better and hire for longer.
5. Plan & Activate Hires Earlier
In times unpredictable times, when things change super-fast , hiring the right talent to ensure growth and continued success should be part of any business crisis strategy. By planning and activating hires earlier, clients can ensure a closer relationship with genuine talent acquisition experts, like Odgers Interim, and ensure they are in a well-informed position to move quickly when the timing is right.
6. Know Exactly What You Need
In order to be successful at all previous 5 steps, it is absolutely crucial that clients know exactly what they need, what they need to get there, and where and how to get it. Be clear, transparent and precise with the outcomes required for every role in your business, and plan with a talent acquisition partner what you need to achieve and who with.
Change and disruption are great opportunities for growth and business development. The Shortage Economy need not be feared for clients who are proactive, strategic, and connected with the right talent acquisition partners.
If you would like to find out more about our executive talent on-demand solutions, or would like to have an informal conversation about career development or the Technology Practice, please contact Paul Wright.