The demand for digital talent at all levels of the organisation far outstrips supply. Research by Mortimer Spinks indicates that by 2020 the UK is expected to have a shortage of 800,000 tech workers. Recruiting them costs more and takes longer than any other type of role, especially at the leadership level. Being able to offer endless exciting and evolving possibilities for these digital rising stars, (and delivering on that offer) means that the battle for retention begins at the recruitment stage, and there are many in-depth articles on how to recruit. But retention is more often painted as a question of culture, which is only part of the challenge.

It is also important to understand that some of the standard recruiting practices are not applicable to hiring and retaining top digital talent. Cross-skilling existing workers rarely deliver any results in the short-term, if ever. Out-sourcing is also inappropriate for core digital skills which your organisation need to survive. Although these are effective in the short-term, they soon stall.

Here are some of the more effective techniques for retaining digital talent:

An internal digital gig economy: Allowing digital talent to contribute to many projects, investigate early stage hypotheses and ensure their talents are wisely invested are ways to keep ambitious and driven digital talent. All employees can benefit from a variety of work, and this also supports on-the-job learning, coaching and opening multiple career paths and portfolios.  

Change must be routine: Digital leaders thrive in environments that encourage innovation, exploration and more autonomous ways of working. Workplaces where change has become routine are crucial for talent retention. Digital leaders are not fatigued by change, in fact, they actively seek it out. When the change stops, the itchy feet begin to set in.

Culture and environment: Digital talent is fundamentally different to the current workforce, and you need to make sure that the values, operating mode and beliefs of the organisation are evolving. This is one of the hardest topics to tackle. To understand your culture and get some recommendations for improving it for the digital age, take our diagnostic and receive a personalised report.

Adaptive, flexible tools: It is no secret that many organisations lag behind in terms of technology used day-to-day. Even collaboration and communications tools such as enterprise social networks feel clunky compared to those we use in our personal lives. Flexible approaches to a digital workplace hub and best-of-breed tools help create a collaborative environment for building the digital future of your company.

Becoming a learning organisation: a key tool in continuous evolution for a company is to embed learning in its DNA. High-performing tech companies such as Facebook & Google do this very effectively. As companies grow there is a tendency to focus on being lean and efficient, rather than innovative and growth-oriented. To create a competitive advantage, companies who can continually learn and therefore serve their customers better have an edge.This, in turn, creates the conditions for an exciting, fast-moving environment in which digital leaders can create unique, market-making products and services.

The following links explore some of the techniques explored above: