Can building a talent ecosystem help you boost employee morale?

Digitalisation and a talent-ecosystem approach can help streamline efficiency and boost morale in the workplace, says EY.
By: | September 6, 2022

Most companies saw how the rapid rollout of technology during the pandemic, from video conferencing to document sharing, created a culture of engagement at a time when morale was low. They have been sold on technology transformation.

Rapid and revolutionary technology transformation projects are now underway across the world — whether that is to digitise workflows, boost resilience and agility, enable hybrid working, diversify supply chains or enhance sustainability.

However, the EY Tech Horizon 2022 survey reveals that 70% of businesses across Asia-Pacific are finding it harder to secure tech talent today than they did pre-pandemic. Our survey of 394 C-suite leaders across 16 sectors revealed a consistent pattern: high compensation requirements (28%) and retaining existing skilled talent (26%) are holding companies back from making the changes they need to survive and thrive. Quite simply, companies cannot hire their way out of the tech talent crunch.

Business leaders are adopting a range of strategies to build their tech teams. The Tech Horizon research found 70% of companies are focused on re-skilling rather than hiring — up from 46% in 2020. Others are making diversity a key objective of their transformation programmes and are looking to strengthen the decision-making in their teams by attracting more women, neurodiverse people or those that live in regional or remote areas. Some HR teams have rolled out successful programmes to reconnect with former employees that have taken a career break and are ready to step back into the workforce.

But a growing number of business leaders also recognise that the transformation agenda is moving at such pace that they cannot do it alone. Large projects increasingly rely on an ecosystem of freelancers and gig workers, subcontractors and consultants, software vendors, alliance partners and even competitors. They often need to balance onshore and offshore capabilities, people in different geographies, and demographic brackets and with disparate work styles.

Yesterday’s competitors are often today’s allies that are delivering transformative solutions together. But how do you bring together these ecosystem partnerships and players to perform at the highest level for a common goal while protecting your own internal culture and intellectual property? This is a question keeping a lot of HR professionals up at night. The answer is not simple, but the secret is to be strategic. Here’s how:

Map the skills gaps: Transformation project work at pace is not business as usual. Each transformation project is different, and so are the skills you need. Proactively explore your skills gaps to understand the type of workers you need and the internal resources that could pivot to fill the skills gaps. Then take the time to communicate the remaining skills gaps with your people so they understand why building an ecosystem of diverse talent is mission critical. There are technology solutions that can take you through each step from identifying a need, to engaging and selecting candidates, managing them when onboard, and then evaluating and offboarding when the transformation is complete.

Make humans the heroes: It will come as no surprise to HR professionals that people are at the heart of any technology programme. In fact, 68% of the respondents to Tech Horizon ranked talent and culture among their top three success factors. High-performing transformations carefully manage change and new experience design by putting humans at the center of every decision. But when designing programmes for your people, do not forget your consultants. Your clients rarely think of your consultant team as “outsiders” and neither should you.

Capture the moments that matter: It is possible to measure and monitor morale, even when you are managing a disparate workforce. A range of technology tool sets can help HR teams to effectively measure engagement and then make analytical decisions to improve culture. EY is working with one large bank on a technology solution that captures key information at “moments that matter” over the talent lifecycle. This technology is complemented by pulse surveys to judge sentiment and allow the HR team to take corrective action as needed.

Automate to boost morale: Technologies like robotic process automation, machine learning and artificial intelligence can eliminate routine or back-office activities. Unburdening your people of boring tasks so they can focus on higher-order work can be a big morale boost.

Collaborate on the cloud: Effective ecosystems are underpinned by trust, transparency, and creative collaboration around data. Cloud technology can support co-creation across the ecosystem, eliminate work, and increase the speed and efficiency of transformation programmes. Leveraging the cloud can mean the client does not have to do everything themselves, because the cloud is already secured. This explains why nearly half (49%) of companies surveyed for the Tech Horizon research plan to invest in cloud technology in the next two years. While technology is part of the solution, a strong governance model is also essential.

Connect your communication with the tech: Spend time with your tech team to build rapport, share ideas and understand how their work will change the way your organisation operates. For example, will the roles of people within your organisation change? Will the transformation introduce new business models that did not previously exist? When you understand the answers to these questions, you will be better able to communicate the implications, impact, and ultimate value to your wider organisation as it is rolled out.

Get it right and reap the rewards. The EY research has found nearly three-quarters (71%) of executives with ecosystems believe these are very important to their company’s current success. The challenge for HR leaders is to cultivate a culture of collaboration, consensus and two-way communication to help your ecosystem of talent navigate the twists and turns of transformation.

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About the authors: Kellie Simpson, Asia-Pacific Technology Consulting Partner EY; Steve Bingham, Asia-Pacific Technology Consulting Leader, EY. 

The views reflected in this article are the views of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the global EY organisation or its member firms.