What can employers do to retain talent in light of tech skills shortage?

‘The Great Resignation’ has been at the forefront of every business leader’s mind since the beginning of the pandemic two years ago. But for Australians in particular, it’s further exacerbating the ongoing technical skills shortage that employers have faced for many years.

Australia has had to rely on skilled migrant workers to fill highly-sought after technical roles, which only became more difficult when the international borders closed. Despite borders reopening and the business world returning to some semblance of normalcy, the technology skills shortage could worsen with the federal government’s announcement that it will halve the number of migrant workers entering the country on skilled visas in the next financial year.

What are the tips employers can use to retain talent?

This comes at a time when technology businesses and services, in general, are booming as the country transitions from its reliance on digging minerals out of the ground to becoming an exporter of innovation and technology, making these skills more important than ever.

Workers need more than a paycheck

There’s no magic bullet that will fix Australia’s chronic skills shortage, and there’s only so much one business can do to combat the global forces that cause talent constraints.

However, businesses aren’t helpless. Businesses tend to focus their attention on productivity and profitability. When prospective employees have a carte blanche of employment opportunities, businesses must look inward to their current employees and nurture their wellbeing in the workplace rather than focus on the dwindling skilled migrant workers.

Business leaders must go back to basics and reconsider exactly what attracted their employers to the organisation in the first place. A salary is, of course, the first thing that comes to mind, but it is by no means the only factor or even most important factor that keeps employees motivated. Employees need to feel valued and that their job is important.

Employees also need to have a clear career progression path they can work towards, or they will look somewhere else that will provide that path to them. Most of all, since large swathes of the workforce began working from home and hybrid work, employees need to be able to balance their work life and personal life, no matter where they choose to work from.

Using technology to measure wellbeing

It’s much more difficult to quantify and measure factors like wellbeing than productivity, but by harnessing people-centric platforms such as talent management alongside your existing enterprise resource management (ERP) platform, employers will have a single source of truth that turns personal information into data that can gauge these metrics offering insights.

By prioritising wellbeing over productivity, businesses will be able to retain their existing workforce much longer, creating a company culture and reputation that attracts future skilled workers from the dwindling talent pool. Wellbeing can no longer be viewed as a benefit of the workplace; it needs to be an opportunity to support employees at work and at home.

It’s not just an additional concern and cost for managers, and those who cater to their employee’s wellbeing will inevitably see a positive on the bottom line. Performance management is no longer an annual or monthly check-in, it needs to be an ongoing process.

Talent management platforms can automate much of this process while still giving employees the feeling that their employer has taken their wellbeing seriously. For example, regular check-ins, despite how small they can seem, go a long way to making staff feel valued.

Talent management platforms reveal employees’ true feelings

By using a talent management platform, managers can regularly send pulse surveys to staff to gauge their wellbeing, and their skills and what new skills they want to develop in future.

These surveys can be anonymised, increasing the likelihood that employees will be honest, giving managers even greater insight into what’s needed to keep them satisfied. This will also create insights into how workflows are managed, how processes are carried out and whether these need to be changed to allow employees more flexibility in their work-life balance.

Talent management and ERP platforms can greatly improve a business’ access to talent by developing skills of the employees they have now by taking a holistic approach to training.

The single employee view gives employers an idea of the skills staff have at present and what they want to develop in the future, allowing managers to create the path of progression. Managers can use these platforms to facilitate one-on-one conversations to track their employees’ objectives and provide them with additional learning and growth opportunities.

These platforms also can potentially automate some functions of HR and management, but it’s important to note that automation doesn’t mean putting managers out of a job.

It allows managers to minimise the number of menial tasks and maximise their time spent face-to-face with employees, giving them an even greater sense of value in your company.

As operating environments become increasingly complex, businesses need a platform like talent management combined with enterprise resource planning to gain better visibility of employees and their skills to understand how they can contribute to your firm’s success.

They also need to allow staff to be flexible wherever they choose to work so they can still seek fulfillment in their lives outside of work, and need to accommodate new and developing workflows and processes so everyone in the organisation can work to their full potential.

Andy Brockhoff is the President APAC at Unit4.