Why workplace loyalty isn’t what it used to be and what your company can do about it

by Kerry Marker

Why workplace loyalty isn’t what it used to be and what your company can do about it

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There was a time when employees were loyal to one organization for many years, decades, or even their entire career. This was in large part due to the stigma associated with regularly switching jobs. It branded employees with a scarlet letter on their chests for being disloyal or problematic.

Today, these former notions of workplace loyalty have been thrown out of the window. Why the change? Pensions are limited, technologies and markets are continuously changing, opportunities are immense, global business is booming, and employees now have all of the leverage to do what is best to advance their personal situations. In order to stay competitive, companies must learn to adapt to this new trend and use it to their advantage.

A recent rise in job hopping

In the past few decades, average employee tenure has seen a steady decline. In fact, a Gallup study found that 60% of millennials are open to new opportunities. This has made it more challenging for companies to retain effective talent and increased the need for more effective recruiting efforts. But why is the change occurring and what does it mean for your company?

Employees seek growth – Many professionals today want more than just a comfortable salary to pay the bills and a secure job position. They want continuous development, education, and advancement. If a professional does not feel challenged or does not foresee significant climbs in the corporate ladder, they have no qualms in going elsewhere.

Employees seek flexibility – With the rise of telecommuting and mobility, along with a migration from the typical 9-5, professionals now have opportunities they may not have had access to in the past. Today, professionals, retirees, and stay-at-home parents can work without leaving their homes, start businesses simply by setting up a website, or freelance more easily than ever before. The traditional 40-hour work week at the office has significantly evolved.

Employees seek engagement and impact – A 2015 Gallup poll1 measuring employee engagement in the US found that just 32% of employees felt engaged in their jobs. Employees desire flexibility, creativity, and purpose and when their employer offers this, they are more committed to their team and the future success of the business. When employees understand their role and responsibilities, have what they need to be successful, and can see the connection between their role and the overall organizational purpose, they are less likely to explore new external opportunities.

How to deal with the shift

Studies on the cost of employee turnover predict that every time a business replaces a salaried employee, it costs 6 to 9 months’ salary on average. Therefore, it is important for companies to implement practices that are better adapted to the new trend.

Exploit the positives – Employee turnover has downsides – there is no doubt about it. There are significant costs involved in having to recruit and onboard new talent, plus there is a loss of knowledge that an employee who exits takes with them. However, there are upsides as well. Continuously bringing in new talent ensures fresh ideas and insights, preventing stagnation and potentially driving new competitive advantages.

Give valued employees incentive to stay – Today’s professionals want opportunities for growth, competitive pay, flexibility, and an attractive work-life balance. Companies that recognize and effectively address this can retain employees by giving them what they need to be happy. Be creative! Allow executives to work from home. Provide ongoing training or enable employees to temporarily explore other roles within the business. Ensure that employees understand their career ladder and what they need to do to take that next step. Create an effective, innovative workplace that encourages employees to be creative. Establish spiffs or bonuses that encourage competition.

Work with quality recruiters – A critical piece in all of this is finding and retaining top talent. Organizations should work with high quality recruiters who have specific knowledge of industries and trends. This is particularly important in IT, where specialized knowledge is critical to verify that employees have the skills and experience necessary to succeed in the workplace. By effectively managing recruiting efforts and partnering with specialized firms, companies have the ability to draw from a large pool of qualified applicants in an extremely competitive market and ensure that they remain ahead of the hiring curve.

1 http://www.gallup.com/poll/188144/employee-engagement-stagnant-2015.aspx


upGrow — an affiliate of WGroup — staffs with higher standards. upGrow’s experience in working with Fortune 1000 companies has taught us to recognize the challenges among many organizations to stay competitive while building a responsive and agile technology team. To stay ahead of the curve, organizations must find the right people who can lead, support and optimize IT initiatives. Click here to discover the upGrow difference!

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Blockchain: What It Is and Why It Matters to IT and Business Leaders

by Tony Ioele

Blockchain: What it is and why it matters to IT and business leaders

Blockchain is data structure that makes it possible to create secure distributed digital ledger of transactions between two or more parties without the need for a central clearinghouse. Blockchain originally rose to prominence as Bitcoin’s digital ledger, recording transaction for the cryptocurrency. Its ability to store data publicly and anonymously is what gives Bitcoin its security and immense flexibility. By distributing data across a large infrastructure, it is possible to attain highly accurate, secure records. When transactions or other data are added or edited, the other nodes (parties) must evaluate the transaction and compare it to their own records, eliminating the need for central data storage or verification. Illegitimate additions are automatically identified by the system and rejected.

Why blockchain matters for business

Although blockchains were first popularized by Bitcoin, they have applications far beyond cryptocurrency. The technology’s ability to allow two or more parties to have complete confidence in transactions without the need for a centralized third party has obvious benefits in the world of business. Today, so called blockchain 2.0 technologies are being developed that will allow two parties to create sophisticated automated contracts that allow for profits to be automatically divided or payments to be automatically made after certain events. This reduces the need for escrow services and clearing houses while expediting transactions and settlements. Blockchain technology may also provide a more secure platform for transactions than traditional means, reducing fraud and necessary security infrastructure.

Some real life examples include Nasdaq, an early adopter of blockchain, is using the technology to allow private companies to issue stock and stockholders of public companies to vote their shares. Everledger is using it to create a registry of diamonds to suppress trade in “blood diamonds” from conflict zones.

Blockchain challenges

Despite its significant advantages over centralized data structures, blockchains are not without their challenges. Distributing data across a wide range of nodes may provide a larger attack surface for bad actors than traditional data storage method. Although this isn’t a problem in blockchain’s original implementation, bitcoin, where all data is public and anonymous, it could be a problem in other implementations where keeping record details private is critical.

As reported by the news media, the story of Ethereum blockchain, an online ledger that records transactions and lets users trade ether, the second-most popular cryptocurrency, behind bitcoin was hacked. A key part of Ethereum allows people to put smart contracts which are written in computer code and run on Ethereum’s network. On June 17, 2016 the DAI (Decentralized Autonomous Organization) announced it was hacked using the Ethereum network. It was reported the hackers exploited a feature of DAO’s smart contracts to siphon off roughly $50 million of its members’ contributions to the fund.

Blockchain in its current form may also be challenging to implement. Because it is an open source project, it has many competing variations and standards. This may make it difficult for companies to create a single production ready solution that meets their needs. It is only in recent years that certain groups are trying to make the technology feasible for enterprise applications.

Ultimately, it’s critical that IT and business leaders stay aware of blockchain technology and investigate how it could impact their business. Its ability to store data accurately and securely without the need for a centralized service has many applications that may provide increased security and efficiency for the enterprise. Blockchains may not be perfect yet, and need further safeguards, but they undoubtedly provide a glimpse into the future of data structures and transactional records.

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Why Standard Technology Recruiting Practices No Longer Work

by Kerry Marker

Standard technology recruiting practices no longer work. Here’s why… and what to do about it.

When technology hiring managers have a strategic vacancy in their organization that they need to fill, they typically kick-start their hiring process by creating a job listing that is submitted it to the human resources organization. From there, human resources will post the role externally, scan resumes and profiles for top skill keywords, briefly interview candidates with a list of canned questions, and then submit a stack of profiles for the hiring manager to review. Although this seems like a practical process, there is a problem: the vast majority of IT hiring managers that I speak with on a daily basis are not satisfied with the quality of candidates they are receiving. These standard practices lead to a flood of vastly underqualified applicants and a lengthy recruiting cycle, which in turn can lead to an underwhelming hire due to the urgency of the need. So what is wrong with IT recruiting, and how can companies improve the overall success of the hiring process?

What is wrong with IT recruiting?

While there are several key problem areas in IT recruiting, it’s not any one portion of the process that is solely to blame. Recruiters, staffing agencies, and employers can all make strides towards improving the process. Three suggestions for improvement are:

  • Create more realistic candidate expectations
  • Move the interview process towards real-life problem-solving
  • Enable internal teams to more effectively screen for technical aptitude

Overly ambitious job listings – In a cutting-edge, ever-evolving technology landscape, it seems that more often than not, companies are looking for a “unicorn” candidate – someone that understands outdated technologies but also recognizes trends and the future of the industry, who has the ability to lead a team and set strategy but who will also get their hands dirty, who is young and aggressive but who also has decades of experience. Creating a “kitchen sink” job posting may seem like a good idea, but it is not for a multitude of reasons. First, it can deter quality candidates who do not feel that they meet every single requirement on the list. According to a study completed by HP, the women working there only applied for promotions when they met 100% of the qualifications listed in the job posting, as opposed to men, who would apply if they met 60%.1 Workplace diversity, specifically in technology, is important across all organizations so there needs to be flexibility in job postings to provide greater inclusion of applicants. Separately, having overly ambitious job postings also encourages subpar candidates to exaggerate their skills, which can lead to lengthy periods of time allocated to the vetting of nonqualified talent.

By creating a more realistic and flexible job description, focused on the skills and responsibilities that are critical to deliver in the role, companies will be able to identify a diverse pool of qualified candidates more quickly, ensuring a quicker time to value for their team.

Ineffective recruiting processes – Evaluating resumes by skill keywords might be a good first indicator of the strength of the candidate, but it does not really tell you what a candidate can do. By giving applicants a real world problem, companies can get a better idea of true technical aptitude, how someone reacts to real business challenges, and how they communicate solutions. This can provide much greater insight into how someone will perform on the job – and it is certainly a much better indicator than a few bullet points written on a resume.

Nontechnical recruiters – Effectively screening candidates for a technical role or project requires specialized knowledge that most HR employees simply do not have. Anyone can ask questions about years of experience and tools used to check off boxes but it takes someone with technical aptitude to truly grasp the breadth of knowledge and the scope of a candidate’s experience. When candidates are not properly screened from the start, it places the burden for vetting for technical skill on the hiring manager and leads to lengthy cycles.

The problem with staffing agencies

Staffing agencies claim to take the headaches out of IT recruiting by providing companies with a pool of prescreened, quality applicants. While they do have the bandwidth to recruit and most likely have a database of people they can tap into, many do not have the technical experience to vet candidates, especially for strategic roles. Most staffing agencies employ recent college graduates, not technical leaders, so their ability to screen candidates for “quality” is minimal. This often exacerbates IT hiring problems rather than helping them and further complicates the hiring process.

In order to overcome all of the issues mentioned above, companies must partner with staffing agencies that specialize in technology recruiting. Outsourcing recruiting to an organization that truly understands technology requirements, challenges, and trends ensures mitigated risk and quicker time to value in the recruiting process. Above all else, it ensures quality candidates who can help an organization drive business outcomes.

Sources

1https://theamericangenius.com/business-news/women-apply-for-jobs/_


If you’d like to learn more about how to improve your IT hiring practices and how upGrow from WGroup can help, visit us here.

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Why Technology Consultants and IT Leadership Are Now Critical Partners to The CFO

by Rich Carroll

Why Technology Consultants and IT Leadership Are Now Critical Partners to The CFO

As technology becomes a key component of practically every company’s financial strategy, CFOs are increasingly turning to internal partners and external consultants to cover gaps in their knowledge, provide meaningful insights and develop models that extrapolate future returns and benefits. Driving financially disciplined growth remains a cornerstone of the CFO’s role. In order to govern technology spend, while ensuring it is aligned to the delivery of business strategy, the CFO must remain an educated partner of the CIO. The CFO must stay abreast of new developments and work with IT leadership and external advisory organizations to ensure that the company is prepared for the future.

How is technology affecting the CFO?

Knowledge and education about emerging technologies, risk of old solutions currently in place, solutions focused on data and securing of sensitive information, emerging and evolving regulations, are all areas that impact the CFO. The role that technology is playing in these areas is increasing daily; IoT, cognitive, automation, transformational evolution of current technology platforms and service delivery models will impact technology investment levels, internal controls frameworks, and regulatory attestation processes. The CFO needs to ensure that through strong collaboration with the CIO as well as trusted external advisors they attain a consensus for how to coordinate financial and technological priorities.

Technology and risk – Technology is a fundamental part of most companies’ risk portfolios. When downtime, errors, or compliance issues can cost a company thousands or even millions of dollars, it becomes critical that the CFO understand these potential problems and how they fit into the enterprise’s overall risk management strategy.

Technology and compliance – There is now a wide range of regulations dictating the proper use of technology, particularly when it involves customer financial information, medical records, or other sensitive data. In order to ensure that the enterprise is compliant with all regulations, the CFO needs advice and insight from those with technological expertise.

Technology and revenue generation – With the rise of eCommerce, digital products, and other technology driven products, IT has become the cornerstone of many enterprise revenue models. Even companies that don’t rely on technology as their primary driver of revenue still usually depend on it for support of operations such as data analytics, marketing, and customer service. Without an understanding of how software and technology contributes to revenue within the organization, a CFO is unprepared to effectively ensure their company’s continued financial health.

Technology and cost reduction – Technology enables the enterprise to more effectively share and analyze information, help customers, and perform daily tasks. All of this ultimately translates to increased efficiency and reduced costs.

How the IT leaders and outside consultants can help

The average CFO doesn’t have a thorough understanding of developing technology, but they must still be able to incorporate IT into their overall strategy in order to make better financial decisions for their company. In order to effectively cover this gap, the CFO must look to internal and external advisors. The CIO and IT leaders are ideal partners to the CFO and can provide much needed guidance on these issues. In some cases, it may also be necessary to seek outside perspective or specialized expertise from third party consultants. By seeking this guidance and uniting with technology leadership, the CFO can help IT deliver business results and ensure that the enterprise has a cohesive and forward looking risk, compliance, and revenue strategy.


Other relevant reading for the CFO includes a white paper entitled Business-Driven Mergers and Acquisitions (at http://www2.thinkwgroup.com/Business-driven_Mergers_and_Acquisitions_for_IT), a case study on how WGroup assisted an investment firm in carving out an organization to maximize value (at http://thinkwgroup.com/case-studies/itcarve-outleads-profitable-sale-seamless-transition/), and a look at WGroup’s advisory services for M&A (at http://thinkwgroup.com/services/mergers-acquisitions-and-divestitures/)

Contact us at http://thinkwgroup.com/contact-us/ to learn more.

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The Cognitive Wave and Its Effect On Business

by Domenic Colasante

How is the cognitive wave changing business?

Automation and cognitive computing are dramatically shifting the way employees work and business is done. They function as the next generation of outsourcing, shifting its focus from labor arbitrage to labor itself. These tools allow tasks to be performed faster, more efficiently, and with greater accuracy than ever before, while shifting the role of human workers to more creative and interpersonal jobs.

The cognitive wave is already having a major impact on business, and its effects are only likely to become more pronounced in the coming years. As computer technology becomes more advanced and developers create tools that can perform tasks previously only doable by human employees, work and the role of the employee are shifting. Building on this and incorporating it into the businesses innovation strategy is critical to maintaining a competitive edge in the future.

Business unit needs

As an IT leader, it is important to understand how the business can use automation and cognitive computing to increase efficiency, reduce costs, improve accuracy, and deliver better customer service. This will help the department to provide better guidance to business leaders when attempting to help them reach their goals. By helping incorporate cognitive computing and automation into business units, IT can facilitate the business to function more effectively and can maintain its own key role of technology leadership within the company.

WGroup

Increased speed – Automation tools can perform certain tasks faster than any human worker could. This is particularly true in areas in which computers excel, such as sorting through large volumes of data or performing mathematical operations. This means that companies have the opportunity to significantly out pace the competition, deliver better service, and increase efficiency across the organization.

Personnel redeployment – Automation can perform menial tasks better and faster than human workers. This means that companies have the opportunity to redeploy their personnel to more interesting and productive areas that can grow the business. Humans no longer have to perform the boring work of crunching numbers or performing simple password resets, they can now be reassigned to areas where they can make a more significant contribution to the enterprise.

Increasing accuracy – One of the greatest advantages of using automation tools is their ability to perform actions in a highly accurate, repeatable manner. Although in some cases there is no substitute for employee oversight, in specific roles automated tools can perform a task better and faster than any human. Reviewing large data sets, automatically troubleshooting and addressing common IT problems, and providing access to a wealth of information are all roles in which computers can outperform their human counterparts.

Better customer experience – Although customer service may be primarily associated with human connection, cognitive computing can still play a key role. Providing automated service for simple customer requests can greatly speed resolution of any problems that may arise while simultaneously reducing the workload on the human staff. This can significantly improve customer service productivity and improve brand value.

Multiplying productivity – Although many workers are afraid that automation will take their jobs, this is usually not the case. Instead, the technology acts as a productivity multiplier, helping the workforce focus on more human oriented and creative tasks, while leaving repetitive work to the machines. This can drastically improve employee productivity, allowing them to solve problems faster, and provide for greater innovation within the company.

Reduce costs – Increased productivity, reduced errors, and improved speed all translate to significant cost savings after automation has been implemented. The technology allows for an increase in the amount of work the company can perform while simultaneously decreasing the cost of that work, meaning that automation has one of most advantageous cost/benefit ratio of any IT initiative.


If you’d like to learn more about cognitive automation, request a copy of our ebook, the Cognitive Automation Primer.

The next few years are expected to be the “era of cognitive automation.” Author Israel Del Rio presents a comprehensive primer to this disruptive technology. Cognitive automation is poised to have the same impact in the 2010s as PCs in the 1980s, the Worldwide Web in the 1990s, and mobile in the 2000s.

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Cognitive automation is still in its early stages. Now is the time to understand its potential. Request your copy of the Cognitive Automation Primer now

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