How to kick-start a sustainable talent cycle
With the working population in decline and technology advancing faster than ever, business leaders across the globe are facing the challenge of finding suitably skilled staff from a shrinking talent pool. It’s an ongoing problem and one that market research agencies such as ours know only too well. As data-driven strategies take hold, 80 percent of enterprises are deploying big data projects in 2015, and individuals with the right research and analytical abilities to make sense of all that data are increasingly difficult to find, and even harder to keep. A basic talent management strategy will no longer suffice to attract and retain talent; companies need to create a culture where employee needs come first and inspiration drives exceptional results.
The key is to cultivate an environment of support and encouragement that is infectious — transmitting from management to their teams, and from existing staff to new hires. When a workforce sets its own bar of excellence and strives to achieve it out of personal dedication, success is almost guaranteed. Though it may sound too good to be true, kick-starting a sustainable talent cycle is not as complicated as it may seem. By maintaining the three pillars of workforce fulfilment, companies can foster a self-perpetuating culture of achievement and self-worth.
1. Equal opportunities:
I’m not just talking about gender equality here. Every member of staff must be treated equally, regardless of race, religion, age, disability, or any other barrier or prejudice. We all know this, but how many employees still suffer silently or struggle in a regime that simply doesn’t account for their personal situation? Championing initiatives such as flexible working to assist staff at all levels in balancing their work and personal commitments imbues a sense of equal opportunity. And research indicates that companies scoring highly in gender diversity are 15 percent more likely to outdo industry benchmarks for performance. If all employees are encouraged, and given the opportunity, to move outside of their comfort zone and develop their skillset, anyone can progress. Consequently, there will be more balance in the workplace, and employees across the board will find a role model to aspire to be like.
2. Recognition and development:
For a highly skilled and enthusiastic workforce to flourish, investment and recognition are essential. By identifying skills gaps and offering relevant training or allocating experienced mentors to provide support, staff feel valued and able to achieve more. Taking this one step further, offering secondments gives employees the chance to try out different roles, expand their experience, and have the freedom to grow.
Acknowledging achievement is also crucial to inspire employees to have high standards. An internal system of recognition where employees can nominate each other for accolades creates a unifying sense of accomplishment that satisfies and fuels ambition. And encouraging and enabling employees to apply for industry awards – with the backing and support of their team – is another great motivator for everyone involved.
3. Humanity in the workplace – and beyond:
Employees who are empowered to fulfill their potential will be keen to share their knowledge and energy — and providing them with the means to do so is the final link in the sustainable talent cycle. Sharing their experience and aspirations by taking part in apprenticeship schemes or industry networking groups not only nurtures the next wave of talent, but it galvanises the achievements of the individual.
Fully embracing the human approach to management also requires a flexible attitude to everything from association with industry bodies to community projects. Allowing employees the time they need to make the world a better place by driving industry innovation – or even volunteering as a reserve firefighter – fosters a collaborative team spirit that keeps motivation high and attrition rates low.
By putting these three pillars firmly in place, businesses benefit from a constantly renewing cycle of support, development, and achievement. An environment that enables employees to achieve their professional and personal ambitions is one where talent thrives. A workplace where enthusiasm is palpable also attracts interest from potential new recruits, enhancing the talent pool further with a rich array of ability. The rewards – financial and intrinsic – generated by this sustainable talent cycle are often significant and undoubtedly benefit the individual, the business, the industry, and the wider community. A business that can drive progression, excellence, and accomplishment is an inspiration to all – and cannot fail to succeed.
About Crispin Beale
As joint Chair of the Market Research Society and UK ESOMAR representative, Crispin Beale is a leader in his field. His team at Chime Insight & Engagement Group is actively involved in industry and community activities, and has achieved a wide range of awards in the past year – from industry awards such as Best Field Force, to bronze and silver Stevie Awards for Women in Business. Beale plays an active part in setting the research industry agenda, and is passionate about encouraging young researchers and providing them with vital support. His people-first approach has brought further achievements for Chime — which for the past seven years has enjoyed consecutive year-on-year double-digit growth.
Why Your Team Should Contribute to Open Source Projects
Much of the world’s software infrastructure, including that which underpins multibillion-dollar corporations, has been created and maintained by developers, often anonymous, who do it for free in their spare time.
This is the open-source software movement: software whose source code anyone can use and edit. It has united developers from all around the world to create, improve and iterate on flagship software: from well-known consumer products like Firefox and Android, through to key tech infrastructure like Kubernetes.
Open source has served as the training ground for a generation of programmers, developers, and software engineers. It has given them the opportunity to improve their skills and to self-direct, and get involved in projects that they find interesting and meaningful. In fact, according to a new survey, open-source skills are more valued than proprietary ones.
Around 30 years ago, open source-driven innovations were often academic endeavours, sponsored by university IT departments, where students were encouraged to contribute and learn software engineering skills while simultaneously benefiting the university and the wider world.
However, over the last ten years, the world of open source has changed. Today, open-source is seen as the innovation engine across large, forward-thinking enterprises. Organisations are increasingly eager to adopt open-source projects like Linux or Jenkins, whereby they not only leverage technologies but also provide resources to create and contribute to projects. For example, Facebook, Google or LinkedIn embrace open source by creating and building innovative software as communal projects. In fact, open-source technologies and influencers are seen as rock stars in industries from global banking to retailers.
We can see open source everywhere. Projects like Linux, Kubernetes, React.js, or Tensorflow are becoming ubiquitous in IT departments, while open source technologists are quickly becoming the most highly sought-after talent. Innovative organisations are clamouring to build open-source credentials to draw in the best talent to cope with the increasing digital demand on businesses.
Why we all benefit from open source
The ubiquity of open source software means that your organisation is probably already using some of these technologies, many in business-critical applications. By encouraging community participation, organisations have the opportunity to drive change that matters to their business today as well as drive technology innovation forward. Participating in open source helps in-house teams stay motivated and at the cutting edge. Developers want to work on projects they are passionate about. Letting them do this can improve morale, and allowing them to take on challenges they may not face when working on in-house software can help nurture creativity and new approaches.
What’s more, companies that are seen as supporters and leaders in open source are seen as innovators in their industry, increasing motivation internally and visibility externally. In addition, these organisations find it much easier to attract the best IT talent to their businesses in a virtuous cycle of innovation driving innovators.
In the end, there is a clear economic reason to get involved with open source - in 2018, open-source software added between €65 billion and €95 billion to the European economy. It is in everyone’s long-term interest to cultivate and nurture open source projects that can do far more commercial and social good than siloed in-house teams could alone.
Today’s challenge to the open-source movement
While the benefits are clear, some companies don’t see the immediate benefit in letting their teams contribute to open source projects and believe all of an employee’s productive energy should go into work that directly generates revenue. Some organisations have discouraged the use of and contribution to open-source projects in-house or even prevented employees from contributing outside of work.
However, even if companies don’t restrict their out-of-work activity, many developers with full-time jobs simply don’t have the time. Getting seriously into the weeds of an open-source project means a lot of time and energy on coding and fielding bug reports and support requests - often in numbers that an overwhelmed developer minority couldn’t possibly manage completely.
In her book, Working in Public: The Making and Maintenance of Open Source Software, Nadia Eghbal notes that almost half of contributors across 275 popular GitHub projects only contributed once - accounting for under 2% of overall ‘commits’.
Helping open source communities helps us all
We all benefit from ensuring that open source projects retain their guiding hands and most experienced talent from a mixture of employed and volunteer contributors. While there will always be a new generation of younger programmers willing to build up their skills and take the reins of open source projects, full-time developers who are motivated and supported by their employers can leverage their experience to take these projects to the next level.
Open source communities should be considered as shared assets. Their engagement provides short- and long-term benefits for companies, contributors, and society as a whole. When it comes to open source communities, we should always keep in mind the classic problem of the tragedy of the commons - it is a shared space that benefits everyone, and we have to actively work to ensure that both developers creating and companies using open source software put in and take away a balanced contribution. The very companies that put the most energy into helping the open-source movement stand to gain the most from it flourishing.