Why companies can’t hire their way out of the tech talent crunch

Stephen Koss, EY Asia-Pacific Workforce Advisory Leader, provides tips for creating a multi-faceted approach to hiring and talent sourcing.
By: | July 18, 2022

One statistic from EY 2022 Tech Horizon research shows why companies cannot hire their way out of the tech talent crunch. The EY survey of 394 companies across six Asia-Pacific countries found that 70% of businesses find it harder to secure tech talent today than they did pre-COVID-19 pandemic.

At the same time, the number of tech transformation programmes underway has skyrocketed. Every business leader we surveyed had completed a transformation, made good progress, or was in the planning phase.

To keep up with the accelerating rate of change, business leaders know transformation is a constant endeavour. They also know transformation is only possible with technology. But securing the skills to deliver these transformation programmes is now a monumental challenge.

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“To keep up with the accelerating rate of change, business leaders know transformation is a constant endeavour. They also know transformation is only possible with technology.” – Stephen Koss, EY Asia-Pacific Workforce Advisory Leader.

A singular talent sourcing strategy misses the mark when everyone is on the hunt for the same tech skills. Instead, companies that take a multi-faceted approach will see the best success. Here’s how:

1.  Know your target market. Each transformation project is different, and so are the people with the skills you need. Spend time trying to understand and profile not just who you need but also who they are, why they will join, and what they want. We know tech workers, in general, prioritise learning, development, health, and well-being, but what are your specific workers looking for? Spend time getting to know your target group.

2.  Embrace strategic workforce planning. Make deliberate decisions about your in-house technology function and identify ways to deliver transformation using a blended approach, deliberately expanding partnerships, or establishing ecosystems. It could mean taking some functions offshore or bringing talent through migration programmes. Success is only possible with a strategic workforce planning approach.

3.  Focus on the overall rewards. Everyone cares about remuneration; however, their weighting on this differs. The recent EY Work Reimagined Survey shows that technology workers place high emphasis on areas beyond just pay. These include areas such as learning, well-being, flexibility, and purpose. The secret is to focus on an overall value proposition rather than emphasising financial rewards above all else.

4.   Prioritise reskilling. A massive 70% of respondents to Tech Horizon are now focused on reskilling rather than hiring experienced workers. This is up from 46% in 2020. But ineffective upskilling or retention programmes often make this difficult – in fact, 46% of respondents said this was their biggest internal barrier to obtaining skills. This is because reskilling and learning initiatives mean far more than simply providing people with access to content or courses. Organisations must also support this by offering time or budget allowance for learning. The secret is establishing a learning culture that starts at the top and embeds learning achievement into every part of your enterprise.

5.  Emphasise a wellbeing-centric culture. The nature of tech work can mean long hours in front of screens, so it is no surprise that tech talent cares about wellbeing and culture. The secret is to build workplace culture, programmes, and support structures that emphasise connection and help people better balance work and life.

6.  Make diversity a competitive differentiator. The Tech Horizon research shows that setting diversity targets as part of a transformation strategy delivers clear dividends. In fact, 76% of transformation projects exceed expectations when diversity targets are a critical measure of success. When they are not, 54% fall short. But look beyond the standard diversity targets, like gender balance. Consider how other groups, like people from regional or remote areas, or neurodiverse people, could enhance your team and help you deliver transformation at speed.

The task is not just challenging. It is also urgent. The EY Work Reimagined Survey — which surveyed 17,000 workers worldwide to find out the chief motivators of workforce turnover — found that tech workers are more likely to be looking for a new job than workers in any other sector. A massive 56% of tech workers see themselves as “job jumpers.”

If you are in the game of change, then your odds of success are startlingly low. EY recent research collaboration with the University of Oxford’s Saïd Business School has found that 67% of senior leaders have experienced at least one underperforming transformation in the last five years. But there is good news. As the hunt for top tech talent hots up, focusing on human factors can increase the likelihood of transformation success by 2.6 times – and help you secure the people you need to make it happen.

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