How mid-market organizations can compete for in-demand tech roles

Disruption and change may be in the cards this year, but the need for high-tech skills is unlikely to diminish. The top in-demand roles are fairly consistent across companies and include cyber and information security specialists; AI and machine learning workers; data scientists; software engineers; and technical/solution architects. These trends are in line with our 2023 Digital Leadership Report, which captured how employers were seeking to leverage AI and machine learning to help them transform into data-led organizations without compromising security.

A recent RSM/US Chamber of Commerce study demonstrated how pertinent these skills are to mid-market organizations. It found 57% of these organizations are currently planning or considering investment in automation or IT. But while 66% forecast increased hiring over the next six months, an astonishing 97% expect the lack of available, qualified workers to be problematic. This will impact the IT skills that mid-market companies can attract, especially when larger organizations have more budget and bandwidth to invest in talent acquisition strategies and new technologies.

The following are suggestions on how mid-market companies can set themselves apart in the competition for tech talent.

Flexible work as a differentiator. Large organizations have recently started to stipulate return-to-office (RTO) ultimatums, arguing that being in person actively encourages real-time problem solving and collaboration and helps build a sense of community that enables newcomers to better connect with their colleagues and responsibilities. A counter argument is often made that mandating where and how employees work can negate much of the good will gained over the past few years. In a competitive labor market, RTO mandates can be a costly mistake.

This presents a significant advantage that some mid-market organizations can leverage. It doesn’t mean giving employees carte blanche for when and where they work, but handling the in-office/work-from-home balance in a more considered way with clear guidelines that respects individual employee needs and circumstances.

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How to handle RTO when necessary. Mid-sized organizations that need either all or certain employees back in the office should do more to entice them by making it a positive experience, rather than an ultimatum. RTO can be made attractive — or at least different and purposeful — by offering team-building exercises, linking it to learning and development, and working with employees to determine how to make RTO a manageable reality.

Additionally, many employees are interested in career growth. When they have clarity into what will help them progress faster, they may be more apt to make RTO a priority. Employers should ensure talent understands their internal mobility opportunities, especially if it may require relocating to a different office.

Incorporate technology in positive ways. Employers of all sizes are leveraging technology to facilitate communication and collaboration. This includes promoting belonging through frequent and customized communications and cross-team check-ins. Mid-sized organizations often find it easier to tailor these solutions to meet the needs of their smaller workforce, helping to create a meaningful sense of purpose and community for employees wherever they are working.

Lean into a corporate culture that cares. Not only are enterprise organizations laying off tech workers, some are predicting that AI will replace a portion of them in the near future. This stands in stark contrast to smaller businesses. The same RSM/US Chamber of Commerce report found only 12% of mid-market companies plan to substitute AI for labor. This allows these organizations to foster comfort and curiosity around technology instead of fear about being replaced. By creating a sense of workplace stability and reliability, mid-sized companies can potentially attract employers from large organizations by taking a slower, more measured approach around AI and automation.

Adaptability is a winning strategy. Facilitating a blend of employment models — contract, short- and long-term hires, hybrid, RTO and remote work — matched with a close understanding of what candidates want means employers can find and engage with the technology skills they need. And that could be the difference between merely surviving the current talent war or truly winning over the people your business needs.

Jason Pyle

Jason Pyle
Jason Pyle is president and managing director of Harvey Nash USA.

Jason Pyle

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