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Take an Artful Approach to Attracting and Retaining Talent

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You’ve committed to digital transformation, now you just have to figure out how to hire and retain the top IT talent needed to pull it off.

Many companies are finding they don’t have the right skills in-house to make the transition, CIO reported in a feature article. A study by Hackett Group, the article noted, “found that for midsized and large businesses, one of the biggest roadblocks with digital transformation has been actually finding and sourcing talent with the right skills.”

Competing for top talent is expensive, as any CIO well knows. So it might be wise to first look within your own workforce and see if you have an employee who could be trained in that area, says Scott Holland, principal, Global Advisory Practice Leader at Hackett Group.

Engage staffers

But it takes more than retraining to keep highly desirable workers. Computerworld offers an interesting deep dive into the use of employee resource groups (ERGs) as “a way to develop and engage IT staffers, aid in retention and recruitment, and encourage a diverse point of view they believe is necessary for building and deploying technology on a global scale.”

ERGs provide tech employees with opportunities to cultivate relationships with like-minded peers. For IT management, they provide avenues “to develop and engage IT staffers, aid in retention and recruitment, and encourage a diverse point of view they believe is necessary for building and deploying technology on a global scale.”

Don’t waste talent

That’s an important consideration if you have talented workers who are supporting stable legacy software systems of record, such as an ERP. While you may have highly functional systems that you’re not ready to migrate away from, you also can’t risk losing – or even just wasting — the talent of top IT workers.

Freeing up that talent to work on innovation projects may be a critical key in succeeding at transformation efforts.

Reallocate for innovation

Consider the case of a leading automotive manufacturer: the IT team determined that a major ERP upgrade would have required shifting dozens of the company’s “best and brightest” to work on the project for about a year. This would have negatively impacted a range of planned business projects. By opting out of the upgrade, skilled IT talent can focus on initiatives that are of more interest to the employees – and to the business.

In a Harvard Business Review article, innovation consultant Amantha Imber writes that workers are more innovative when put in a role that challenges them. She pointed to research showing that if people are put in such a role, “67 per cent will demonstrate above-average creativity and innovation in their performance. In contrast, only 33 per cent of people in ‘easy’ jobs show above- average innovativeness.”

So when you’re thinking outside the box for digital transformation, don’t overlook the options for making better use of existing talent.

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