Technology companies should encourage a culture of innovation within their organisation to retain their most skilled staff, says Peter Groucutt, managing director of disaster recovery service provider Databarracks.
Recent research from Investors in People, the employment standards agency, has revealed that three-quarters of IT professionals could switch jobs in 2017. Confidence in the tech job marketplace is up six percent from last year. For those seeking a new challenge, better pay is the main driver but, critically, 36 per cent cited a lack of career progression within their current role as a key motivator for moving.
Groucutt states that an employee’s ambition can often surpass the ability of their organisation to facilitate it, particularly at the SME level. To avoid losing valued employees, organisations should foster a culture of innovation throughout the business that allows for employees to channel their aspirations effectively:
“Business agility is critical to the future success of any organisation. In practice this might be a firm’s ability to adapt to new technologies, or respond quickly to changing customer demands. Finding and retaining skilled staff is critical to the process, but many businesses struggle to retain top staff in a competitive market. Higher pay, career progression and flexible working are all factors that the research from Investors in People has identified as reasons for tech talent considering a job change in 2017.
“Many larger organisations have looked to address this through a formalised process – last year Google announced the launch of ‘Area 120’, a startup incubator that would allow Google employees to work on personal projects full-time. The problem is, initiatives like this often only take place in large enterprises, where there is sufficient funding and support available to facilitate it. What we need to see is more SMEs embracing this “incubator” culture.”
Databarracks is an example of a business that practices what it preaches, by encouraging its staff to develop products and solutions. Successful initiatives can even be spun out into new businesses. Evidence of this can be seen with the award-winning Kazoup, a solution for analysing unstructured file data, founded and developed by Databarracks employees.
Rather than adding the new solution to Databarracks’ existing portfolio, Kazoup was launched as a new business, led by its heads of R&D and Business Development, with shares held in the business by senior members of the Databarracks team. It’s a model which Databarracks has applied to other areas of the business, including its own marketing operation. The previously in-house marketing team is now an independent entity, influx Marketing, providing marketing services to other organisations as well as Databarracks.
For Databarracks, this approach provides employees with the freedom to develop new skills and ideas, giving them greater ownership over new projects. Groucutt believes it has allowed the business to address a fundamental problem often associated with SMEs:
“The purpose of an incubator culture is to ensure that you are able to retain your most skilled employees. The misconception is that only the biggest firms have the capabilities to support this, but through our own experiences we know this is not the case. Nurturing innovation is critical to the success of any organisation. By enabling your employees to explore and develop new projects and ideas outside of their usual remit, you are inadvertently allowing them to control their own career progression.”