How the best companies recruit and retain their digital talent?

Posted by media on September 13, 2016 at 9:00 AM

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Technology has truly leveled the playing field in the world of business. Today, a newly created digital company can internationalize without its managers taking a single plane; carry out an ambitious marketing campaign without incurring a single advertising bill, and get funding without having to resort to traditional banking, but using crowdfunding, crowdlending or other Fintech methods.

However, the gap between companies with the right digital talent and those who have failed to pinpoint and retain it remains impassable.

Given this state of affairs, this post explores the following question: what can traditional businesses and SMEs do to attract and retain the best digital talent?

This post is also available in Spanish.

In the digital age, human resource management has become one of the main sources of competitive advantage for companies, but it is also an area of the business that if not properly managed, can lead to failure or even to the company’s demise.


According to a report by IT consultancy Gartner, 25% of companies will lose their market position in 2017 due to the digital incompetence of their teams or for not having met employee demands about how they want to work.

Source: Gartner - Talent on the Digital Frontier: The Stakes Rise in Digital Business


Leading companies in human resource management have understood this challenge, responding with actions that although may seem frivolous - such as putting a basketball court in the office or organizing health-conscious caterings - are intended to create what has already been defined as a the employee experience, that is a combination of 3 environments: physical, cultural and technological.

Companies have understood that the employee experience of a workplace must evolve from a place you have to go to a place you want to go, and thus they are favoring having one coherent culture 100% oriented to attract, retain and multiply their in-house talent.

What is the formula used by these companies to entice the best-performing digital professionals?

There are 3 key considerations to be made here:

1. Re-evaluate your selection process

To incorporate high-performing digital talent - the bulk of which lies nowadays in the millennial generation - you have to first re-evaluate your recruitment process. It is crucial to understand the difference between digital skills and digital behaviors, and to favor the latter over the former in your selection process.

For example, it is great that a candidate has working knowledge of SEO, but it is far more important that this individual has a collaborative spirit and exercises creative thinking.

Another recurring error in the selection process involves trying to fill vacancies only in those most digital areas of the business -- like IT or R&D -- when in fact digital talent should to be distributed proportionately throughout the organization. In the same way that technology impacts on all areas of life, so should all aspects of a company on the daily lives of its customers and consumers.

Finally, once a new employee has been selected and onboarded, consider reversing the traditional mentoring rapport: let these new employees share their skills and ways of doing things with the rest of the organization.

2. Provide a new business model for a new type of employee

Attracting digital talent not only requires adapting our selection processes to their expectations, but adjusting many aspects of our existing organization. Not surprisingly, this new talent is very demanding, with an informed opinion about the type of company for whom they wish to work.

One of the key factors in their decision-making is the company’s model of governance, which nowadays is preferably agile and exhilarating with space for each employee to make a difference. This approach is of course diametrically opposed to the usual compartmentalization of people into departments or systems that reward seniority over personal initiative.

Today’s generation of digital talent also takes into account the type of teamwork within a company, preferring those that have managed to create an ecosystem in which employees can connect with each other, transferring knowledge and co-developing new processes, products and services.

To address the latter challenge, HR departments have numerous collaborative tools at their disposal like Chatter, Slack or Peer.

3. The role of technology in retaining talent

Once you have overcome the challenge of incorporating the right professionals into your business, the next one is retaining them.

Securing the loyalty of your employees goes above and beyond handing out promotions and bonuses: you have to know when and how to adapt the company’s mission and vision to ensure that working at your company remains exciting. Whatsmore, your human resources policy must successfully anticipate employees’ needs and requests.

This predictive capacity can be procured with the use of different technologies enabling HR department to collect, monitor and analyze data from the entire lifecycle of each company employee. These data paves the way for necessary changes to be made, not only to prevent “brain drain” but to encourage a growing number of employees to become prescriptors of the company and to provide feedback about the very tactics deployed to keep attracting and retaining the best professional talent.

This post is also available in Spanish.

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