There are six non-financial factors that matter most to technology talent and HR needs to leverage these drivers in order to boost recruitment and retention, according to a recent report.
Lifestyle perks and wellbeing are taken seriously in technology companies, and everything from in-house chefs, diving trips in Bermuda and poker tournaments are considered a baseline offer by most staff – not a differentiator.
A second key driver is innovation and engagement, and the report found that individuals and teams of technology talent are competitive and driven to create the “brand new world”.
“They want to work in teams on ground breaking technology, alongside inspiring founders,” said the report, which was conducted by leading architectural practice Bates Smart.
A third driver is team culture, otherwise known as a “TKG” or tight knit group.
“People who have a best friend at work are twice as likely to be highly engaged and more likely to stay with a company,” the report said.
“Tech staff prioritise working with talented and passionate people, whose company they enjoy.”
The ability to make an impact was the fourth most important factor for technology talent, who are looking for meaningful work and opportunities to develop their knowledge.
“TED talk arenas for presenting back to the team, broadcast walls and whiteboards all assist in developing a culture of sharing and appreciating knowledge,” said the report, The Technology Workplace.
Technology and the “hackable” work environment was the fifth most important non-financial factor.
In this, staff are looking for a dream hardware setup and the ability to reconfigure furniture and write on the walls.
“Surprisingly often tech businesses find this a challenge. In these cases, technology becomes a number one priority,” said the report, which is based on a seven-year study into the tech industry and what makes it different to other industries in terms of performance in the workplace.
Access to leadership was the final factor, and the firms with the most highly engaged employees also have the most inspirational leaders.
“Staff love that they are accessible and share their ideas – what they are doing and why they are doing it,” said the report.
“People who have a best friend at work are twice as likely to be highly engaged and more likely to stay with a company”
Tech companies also have a very different approach to workforce management and the working environment for talented employees, according to the report.
It found that tech teams are in the workplace 12 per cent more often than teams in other industries and also at their desks 14 per cent more often.
Tech companies are also flipping the traditional office model due to their unique way of working, according to the report, which found there are a number of ways in which technology firms allocate space differently.
For one, only 30 per cent of space is assigned to individual desks (compared to 40-45 per cent for non-tech companies).
There is also greater allocation of team space, and up to 12 per cent of the total floor area in tech companies is set aside to enable immediate team meetings and collaboration in the open floor area.
There are also more enclosed meeting rooms, and the report found that up to 8 per cent more space is given to enclosed rooms to counter the ‘noise’ in the collaborative office.
Spaces for ‘hanging out’ are also prioritised, and up to a quarter of the available floor space is given over to wellbeing and social spaces.
Another characteristic of tech companies is that minimal space is allocated to reception and visitor hospitality.
“Tech companies have ‘flipped’ the traditional layout. Instead of impressive reception lobbies, the best spaces are given over to the staff breakout,” the report said.
“Start by thinking about how the workplace can help your best people perform at their best, rather than being put off by change aversion from the vocal minority”
Bates Smart associate director Kellie Payne, observed that there are two key differences in how businesses are generally structured now.
“Firstly, flexibility is all important,” she said.
“There are very few businesses willing to make long term headcount predictions.
“Instead, workplaces need to enable different parts of the company to expand and contract simultaneously whilst allowing for up to 30 per cent headcount variation in the life of the fitout.”
Secondly, Payne said there has been a dramatic rise in the number of technology teams using a collaborative workflow called “agile development”.
“We are also seeing this workstyle permeate into other teams that are project based – including marketing,” she said.
“For these teams, proximity is important to them – they need to sit next to each other.”
For HR professionals looking to redesign the workspace and maximise returns, Payne said a simple but important step is for business needs to align the workplace with priorities and strategic drivers.
“A good workplace strategist will work with you to translate your strategy into priorities for workplace design,” she said.
“This should include talking to your teams and understanding how the workplace supports them as they focus, collaborate, learn and socialise.
“It is also important to set measures for success of any initiatives so you can track if they are making the impact you were looking for,” said Payne.
“Finally, if you are considering large scale change, start by thinking about how the workplace can help your best people perform at their best, rather than being put off by change aversion from the vocal minority.”
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