How to build a dynamic preferred employer reputation in the tech sector

Tuesday, 13 December 2022 08:00
How to build a dynamic preferred employer reputation in the tech sector

From left: Lucas Scheepers, COO, Inspired Testing; Candice Thomson, Talent Acquisition Specialist, DVT; Kristina Gransee, Head of Operations, xSMTHS.

Companies across the globe are suffering from ‘brain drain’, a mass exodus of employees and a workforce that is not afraid to job hop. The tech industry has been particularly hard hit, with young recruits moving on with alacrity – and big pay jumps aren’t the only factor. Right now, the question on everyone’s lips is: “What can we do to make our good people stay?” Talent retention is becoming as important as attracting the right employees in the first place, which means establishing yourself as a preferred employer is critical for the success and growth of your business. 

Software and technologies group Dynamic Technologies understands the value of retaining skilled employees, and each of the group’s 10 companies has seen first-hand the positive impact that a satisfied, engaged and invested workforce can have on their firm’s achievements. Upskilling, a culture of diversity, open dialogues and an understanding of what their employees want are just some of the components at the core of being seen as a preferred employer.

What is a ‘preferred employer’?

A preferred employer is an employer of choice. These companies have a good reputation, are known to be a business that people aspire to work for and they have a high rate of employee satisfaction. This is important when it comes to attracting and retaining talent locally and internationally and can impact a company’s competitiveness and sustainability.

Lucas Scheepers, Chief Operating Officer at Dynamic Technologies group company Inspired Testing, says: “A preferred employer is one that a talented software professional will strive to work for, with which they can develop their long-term career.”

What does it mean for employees?

People who work for preferred employers may be less likely to leave the company, particularly if they see room for professional growth and development. They are also more likely to share their positive experiences, building on the preferred employer reputation. Employees who feel their needs are being met are also less likely to engage in “quiet quitting" or do the absolute bare minimum. They will strive to do their best, and if the employer proves willing to listen and act on employee input, they are more likely to provide constructive feedback and share their ideas or suggestions. Employees who are heard and who feel valued become more heavily invested in the company for which they work.

Scheepers says: “Inspired Testing continuously looks to improve on our client service innovation and quality, but we are only as good as the people in our teams. We cannot deliver the excellent service our clients expect of us if we don’t work with the very best talent, so it makes sense to maintain our status as preferred employer. This decision goes deeper than just sound business sense. It is part of our mission to inspire and support our people to be the best they can be.

Know what your employees want and what they need

The pandemic showed many employees how much can be done from home and what life without a twice-daily commute looked like. Employers that have insisted on a complete return to the office, along with old or outdated ways of working, are facing growing backlash from employees of all ages. Wherever possible, allowing employees to work from home or offering a hybrid home/office solution goes a long way to improving employee satisfaction. In addition to being paid what they are worth, employees want to be stimulated by the work they do and to be treated well by their employer. They need to feel heard, seen and appreciated. In the highly competitive tech space, employees want to be offered the chance to upskill themselves, to grow professionally, to work with different or international clients and to travel. They also want to be given the opportunity to explore alternative career paths within the same organisation

Kristina Gransee, Head of Operations at xSMTHS, a Dynamic Technologies group company, says: “The marketing technology industry is growing quickly. There is a high demand for skilled people across all countries and employees are looking to join companies that provide benefits that match their specific needs. We built xSMTHS as a remote-first company to have the ability to hire wherever we find talent with the right skills and the right aptitude to succeed in our industry. Providing our team with the opportunity to work from anywhere, a strong focus on constant upskilling, an attractive salary and exposure to international clients has been vital for us to becoming an employer of choice.”

How to increase your preferred employer status

Listen to your employees by taking note of suggestions and comments, asking for constructive criticism, making improvements where necessary and not dismissing out of hand what they have to say.

Keep an open dialogue. This can be through formal or informal discussions, on internal discussion platforms or online communities to build employee engagement and retention. Make it easy for employees to discuss any problems and come up with solutions that work for both parties, even if there is some compromise. If employees notice that nothing ever changes or progresses, they will become dissatisfied very quickly, and nothing grows faster than a bad reputation.

A healthy work-life balance includes support when it comes to family or health matters. Healthcare and financial planning are also important, especially to older employees or those with young families. A culture of caring goes a long way, as does recognising that people who work for the business are indeed human beings before they are employees

Upskill internally, continuously. Very few employees want to coast. Career growth and development is one of the most important priorities for millennials, and most will be happy to be given the opportunity to learn new skills, hone existing skills and tackle new tasks. If you are going to ask your staff to pay for this, keep the terms fair and don’t use upskilling as a way of “trapping” them either financially or through additional contracts. Fair repayment is understandable, but make sure both parties understand the terms, the reason for the terms and reach an agreement.

If possible, allow work from home or hybrid work situations. With the rising cost of petrol, and the undeniable stress many people feel when exposed to busy or lengthy commutes, this is a prerequisite for many people. If a reliable power supply and internet connection are an issue, solutions can include shared workspaces or other non-traditional workspaces.

Exposure to international clients and international placements can go a long way to retaining top talent.

Actions speak louder than words

Candice Thomson, Talent Acquisition Specialist at DVT, a Dynamic Technologies group company, knows what it takes to attract skilled tech talent. She says: “Being a consulting firm, we give you the opportunity to move around every six to 24 months. Either on internal projects or consulting with new clients, we give our employees the opportunity to be exposed to new tech, frameworks, methodologies and practices, ensuring their technical growth is exponential.” DVT is also an active supporter of the dev community as a whole, and sponsors events including local meet-ups (GDG) as well as Java Cloud, Dev Fest and Girl Code Hackathon. Staff are encouraged to become specialists and thought leaders in their field by attending or speaking at events, writing blogs and publishing articles. Scheepers agrees: “At Inspired Testing, we see our people as our most important asset. One of our core tenets is to make way for potential. We focus on supporting each team member to allow them to reach their full potential through training and opportunities at an international level.” He adds: “This depends on more than technical skills and Inspired Testing is committed to a holistic approach that includes support for mental and financial well-being.”

A balanced approach

Scheepers says: “It is impossible to deny that paying commensurate, market-related remuneration (or more) for skills and experience is the best way to attract talent. However, money alone will not ensure your people remain with the business. Apart from providing benefits specific to the individual, tech companies that actively demonstrate their commitment to meaningful social issues, authenticity, transparency, values and equality will set themselves up as sustainable preferred employers of the future.”

Editorial contacts
Linda Wilkins Wilkins Ross Communications
Karen Heydenrych DVT
Patrick Eriksen xSMTHS
Karin van Blerk Marketing Manager Inspired Testing