Step up search for talented people in digital age

by 08 Jun 2007

AS MANY as 60 per cent of IT organisations will under-perform as they fail to attract and retain the employees they will need to succeed in the digital age, according to a global IT consultancy.

Few organisations are prepared for the new levels of competition, spurred by globalisation and new work-related rules in their search for and retention of talented employees.

Driven by rapid advances in technology, globalisation, major changes in work demographics and more innovative and open approaches to business practices, new rules are emerging that will dramatically change the workforce and the role of management and IT over the next 10 years.

“The search for talented employees continues to become more difficult and nothing companies have done in the past will suffice,” said Diane Morello, vice-president of Gartner.

“The workplace of the future will require more imagination, more commitment and more cutting-edge action than most enterprises have faced before.”

Leaders will capitalise on individualised work patterns, such as the right to work from home and shifting social dynamics, like the tendency to communicate and learn through blogs and social networks.

In addition, organisations will increasingly need to be prepared to source new talented employees globally as opposed to just locally, as talented people cross borders, boundaries and organisations.

As a result, Gartner predicts that by 2015, people will spend more than 80 per cent of their time working collaboratively, often across 10 or more virtual teams. Communication and marketing about work engagements, employment opportunities and new jobs will spread primarily virally through peer networks. By 2015, more than half of the Fortune 2000 enterprises will have multi-sourced workforces that span the globe.

A ‘pull’ approach will emerge, whereby the next-generation of workers, namely, digital natives, will behave as consumers, assuming a high degree of individualised control over their work, peers, resources, and workplace. In this situation, employees use more of their own devices, software/web tools, and various methods to collaborate in doing their job.

“The combination of global communication, personal devices, location-independent technologies and weakening employment security have introduced new employment options for digital natives,” Morello said.

“Although the rate and scope of work-related change will vary, no organisation will be immune. All organisations must get into a competitive condition.”

Morello’s comments were recently underscored by a Booz Allen Hamilton report which called for a radical overhaul of employment and leadership models.

It argues that current employment models, where a person retires at their most senior position and leaves the organisation completely, lack flexibility and are a result of widespread ageism in the workplace.

Leadership models also suffer from a similar inflexibility with companies assuming they should continue to be led by their oldest employees.

The new demographics suggest leadership models are adjusted so that business management is transferred to younger staff. Advisory or client-facing roles could then be created and flexible working models implemented, helping to break down ageism by demonstrating the advantages, such as preventing the loss of valuable skills, through retaining older staff.

The report argues that pension schemes should cut back the incentives offered for early retirement and offer true actuarial value for deferment.

“The implications are vast, from the patterns of work and retirement to the way companies are run. Companies are starting to recognise the great opportunities from focusing goods, services and marketing to the opportunities created by long life expectancy – but few companies have actually adapted their business and made the changes they need to make,” said Richard Rawlinson, vice-president at Booz Allen Hamilton.

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