Creating an HR strategy focused on tech workforce collaboration for the digital economy is like trying to boil the HR (human resources) ocean.
Before I identify some tactical buckets to focus on, let’s look at the bigger workforce picture.
Engagement is critical for tomorrow’s workforce.
Large-scale research published recently heralds the importance of workforce engagement in reducing employee churn, especially within the increasingly millennial workforce. One of the best studies I’ve read is the comprehensive Deloitte 2016 Global Human Capital Trends research, due to its breadth, depth and global focus. Among other insights gleaned from the report, I was struck by the striking differences in factors influencing North American/European workforce engagement compared with workforce engagement in Australasia and on the Asian continent.
I strongly suggest you read the report in its entirety before you hire another employee.
Long story short: the millennial workforce craves engagement. Happy employees are more productive and less likely to job hunt. When you have a highly engaged workforce who are so jazzed to work with each other, they become raving brand ambassadors for your company, attracting more employees.
What does execution of this strategy look like when creating a jazzed and engaged technical and engineering workforce full of raving brand ambassadors? Hard to imagine?
Do not ignore the semantics of tech workforce engagement.
Replace the term “engagement” with “collaborative.” It’s a matter of communicating HR strategy for engagement in the semantics of the workforce you are trying to create. It’s a matter of focusing your workforce ecosystem on collaboration to catalyze engagement.
Collaborative technical workforces are, indeed, happy campers. They were trained to be analytical, diagnostic, inquisitive, explorative and innovative. They were trained to work in teams instead of in a vacuum. They seek challenging environments. Workplace engagement, to the tech workforce, is not just a matter of being social. Engagement is about becoming part of the bigger picture regarding innovation.
A tech workforce HR strategy that leverages collaboration as the centerpiece of their efforts is tuned in to how technical employees view the world. Are you providing an opportunity-rich ecosystem in which your technical workforce can flex their collaborative brains?
Grab some buckets because execution of tech workforce HR strategy is not linear.
There are 3 key aspects of this boil-the-tech-workforce HR-strategy ocean. When created and executed simultaneously, your organization moves forward, regardless of its size. If current hiring processes are linear, your hiring culture is not walking the collaboration walk.
- Boil the tech workforce HR ocean by acknowledging whether your company perceives HR (Human Resources) as a strategic function or merely as a tactical one. Do decision makers ask your HR folks to dial up yet another IT, operations, software or DevOps engineer because of a large project? There’s no tech workforce strategy – or engagement – involved in that approach. Rather, this sounds like a pick-and-pull, order-fulfillment regard of HR.
Dip your bucket into the ocean of corporate legacy mindset. Which of your current HR leaders is best suited to become the architect of a human capital strategy focusing on the creation of an engaged, collaborative tech workforce? What is the minimum viable component of this strategy which can be identified, implemented and measured over the next year?
- Boil the tech workforce HR ocean by determining whether your company still views your technical workforce as “Them” and regards your non-technical, line-of-business employees as “Us.” There’s no room for perpetuation of ”Us versus Them” mindset in the digital economy. In fact, there never was. The first order of business in executing tech workforce HR strategy is poking holes in corporate silos.
Dip your bucket into the ocean of your legacy business model. Which of your current employees have the collaborative curiosity necessary to make that leap of faith across the abyss of “Us versus Them” mindset? What new product / service development projects are screaming for these collaborative, cross-functional team members? (My entire career trajectory was catalyzed by becoming part of just this type of team. It was a career epiphany.)
- Boil the tech workforce HR ocean by identifying how well organizational structure meshes or marginalizes employees by experience, expertise and seniority. This scenario perpetuates yet another version of “Us versus Them.” Are newbies with high levels of expertise being excluded because of generational bias which equates age with lack of experience and, therefore, lack of organizational worth?
Dip your bucket into the ocean of your organizational structure. Which of your current employees have the expertise and mindset to work productively on a cross-functional, multi-generational team? Give them a beta project. Evaluate key attributes critical to the success of their collaboration.
In the digital economy, the technical workforce is a fully-integrated part of an engaged, multi-generational and cross-functional workplace composed of teams, not individuals. That strategy moves your technical personnel out of departmental silos. That strategy moves HR out of their traditional role of personnel order-takers and paper-processors into a leadership role as human capital catalysts in the creation of a collaborative workforce.
How prepared is your organization to embrace this concept – regardless of your size? Time to grab some buckets??
Babette Ten Haken is a management consultant, strategist, speaker and coach focused on customer success for customer retention. She traverses the interface between human capital strategy for hiring and developing collaborative technical and non-technical employees. As a sales newbie, Babette walked into her first manufacturing plant – a slaughterhouse in Oklahoma – over 25 years ago. She fell in love with manufacturing. She serves manufacturing- and engineering- intensive companies, focusing teams on creating enduring business outcomes. Babette’s playbook of technical / non-technical collaboration hacks, Do YOU Mean Business? is available on Amazon. Visit the Free Resources section of her website for more tools.
Image author: JJAVA. Image Source: Fotolia