In the war for talent, traditional enterprises must pick fights they can win

Paul Miller

19th century chemical plant in Scotland

(St. Rollox Chemical Works in Scotland by D.O. Hill, 1831. Image source: Wikipedia)

The world of work is changing, with my colleague JP Gownder among those doing a great job tracking the shift.

Despite — or perhaps because of — digitisation, robots, globalisation (and its opposite), and a less loyal workforce, competition for digital talent is high. The darlings of Silicon Valley slug it out, paying ever-higher salaries and offering ever-more excessive perks, in desperate bids to grab talent from one competitor. And then they engage in an even more desperate bid to dissuade them from jumping ship when the next offer comes in.

Spare a thought, then, for the poor traditional enterprise. It needs pretty much the same digital talent. But it can rarely afford the same rapidly inflating salaries. It is unlikely to have as cool a brand. A cubicle and a dress code is — unfairly — assumed to be more likely than an in-house chef or stock options.

And yet, in some recent research I did, these staid, lumbering, stuffy giants of yesteryear are putting up a great fight… and often winning.

There’s plenty they — and you — can do. There’s plenty they are doing. And a lot of it comes down to challenging the assumption that every great digitally savvy employee wants to live their life at a Valley startup. That’s simply not true.

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How to make your company the most awesome place to work. #EVAR!!!

Martin Gill

We are constantly told that millennials are breaking the workplace rules. They refuse to work 9 to 5. They demand iPhones. They can’t work unless there’s a fridge full of beer and a pool table in the office. And with a growing war for digital talent, many digital leaders are setting their sights firmly on attracting the digital generation to their firms.

But a recent IBM study suggests an even more interesting conclusion. While the study largely agrees with every other conclusion on the desires of the millennial workforce, it also strongly pointed out that it’s not just “youngsters” that want autonomy, flexibility, empowerment, an awesome work environment that ignites their creativity and the feeling that what they do makes a difference.

It's everybody.

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