The Blog

Category Archives: Technology

December is the month of Preparation

December is the month of Preparation

Its hard to believe the end of 2017 is racing towards us.

December – Advent Calendar time. And it’s the concept of preparation that strikes me today.

It seems as though a lot of changed during 2017 and that the pace of this change is getting ever faster. Yet some of the key issues we faced in 2017 haven’t actually gone away.

Finding and retaining good quality talent is just as relevant in the final few weeks of the year as it was at the beginning. In fact – if anything its more critical. The skills gap and shortage of tech talent is still there – It is time to listen to the rhetoric. In turbulent political and economic times it is challenging to find a way to plug the leak that is the high attrition rate amongst good staff. And yet when we break down what actually makes an employee stay – it would seem that Christmas is an excellent time to make a start on doing just that. Money is less important than you might think, (which is good in today’s climate!) and in the season of goodwill – it is easier to focus on giving – which for the most part is what contrbutes to an employee’s feelings of satisfaction at work.

So for today – in this festive season – let’s take a moment to review – to prepare – to make sure that 2018 truly does become the year that good people feel valued and appreciated at work.

 

Some key facts to consider:

IT professionals get twice as many recruitment mails than other professionals!

Contributing factors to employees leaving range from lack of career advancement to culture to lack of recognition. Money is a factor – but get the career aspiration loop right and recompense becomes a much smaller problem than you may think.

It costs your business about half an annual salary to find a replacement employee.

And those new employees are far less engaged and therefore more likely to move on faster which creates cultural uncertainty and higher stress in those remaining employees.

The bottom line is that there is very little point in having an excellent hiring strategy if you then forget all about the employee the minute they sign on the dotted line. Recruitment needs to come hand in hand with retention. And that strategy needs to fit your unique company culture. We know the talent is out there – but the competition is fierce. If your organisation won’t look after its key assets – someone else will!!

 

Top Tips:

Communicate

Have an optimal onboarding process

Promote your company culture

Develop Effective Leaders

Recognise and Reward

Train and Develop

Provide Challenges

Offer Flexibility

Pay attention to top performers

Offer an attractive compensation package (think past purely salary here!)

Work – Life balance

Be fair

Be honest about change

Foster good teamwork

Corporate Yoga

Corporate Yoga

Historically, “Flexible Working” has been seen of the domain of the working mother. Trying to return to a previous career – juggling work demands and the school run. It conjures up images of telephones in one hand and a screaming baby in the other. Harried women trying to “have it all”

Outdated?

Absolutely.

Agility is a not a modern phenomenon – there has Always been the need to be able to do things differently – to maximise the opportunities that all elements of the workforce are able to offer, in a way and time that suits life. But more often than not, the stuffed shirts of the boardroom decided that change was not in fact a good thing, That innovation , god forbid, may actually increase productivity and perhaps mean change for themselves. And so we carried on doing what we always did.. and guess what…

The outbreak of the 2nd world war truly started a work revolt. Women were managing traditionally male dominated jobs and the home – and guess what – necessity truly was the mother of invention and this proved that looking at things differently still got the job done.

Back in those days the game of Women’s Football had a greater following than the mens…

But back then there were not the opportunities to practice genuine agility in the workplace. The modern technologies that we take for granted as a means to stay connected just didn’t exist. There was a genuine need to be always physically present at work.

But today we don’t have those restrictions. Technologies have moved on so much that there is a strong case for advocating more , not less, agile working. And before I become accused of too much femininism – there is no reason that this need to have a role that fits around the school run / life should continue to be the mainstay of women.

Surely the holy grail of work should be the ability to get the job done – in way that is most productive to the business whilst still allowing a high quality of life. A balance that leaves the employee empowered and ready to work during those “agile” hours?

So what does Agile Working mean?

Its an incredibly difficult definition to make – perhaps because quite simply there isn’t just one definer.

The RICS highlighted the fact that work is an activity, not a place – and that points us towards remote working – but it again it cant just be as simple as that. Some jobs do require you to be in a certain location..

So I would argue that Agile working isn’t just about time and space, its also about doing work differently, being more effective. Being outcome focussed rather than hours driven.

The Agile Future Forum whose aim is to provide leadership and practical support to disseminate agile working practices, considers these practices across the 4 dimensions of: time (when do people work?), location (where do people work?), role (what do people do?) and source (who carries out work?).

But however you choose to define it – the aim of agile working must surely be to ensure that you capture the most effective talent – utilising the right people, process, technology to ensure the most effective outcomes of a task.

Task Driven working – without restrictions as to how and where that is carried out.

It sounds amazing – and something we should all aspire to. Yet the concept of allowing more people to work in this more innovative way has been a slow burner. There is a reluctance to relinquish direct control over staff members – a fear that performance will drop without big brother peering through the office window. A reluctance to give up that concept of office “facetime” – the more hours I am here the better I must be.

This is an antiquated old school tie attitude – and one that needs vast readjustment. But like all leaps of faith – they require a degree of trust. Trust in your staff (which brings us back to the need to hire well!), trust in your technologies and trust in yourself.

By all accounts BT is trying to adopt a truly agile approach – they are using it in call centers – allowing carers to come back to work – in a virtual call center – sometimes even in shifts as short as 30 minutes. And they are finding it pays dividends. Ironically staff are now “working” longer hours – the need for “facetime” gone – and commuting down means that employees are actually able to devote more at work time.. to work. KPI performance has increased and employees are happier.

Plot this against the national return to work rate for mothers which sits at approximately 40%.. at BT that figure is over 90% – directly reported as being due to the adoption of agile working practices.

Sickness rates are down and the ability to employ a more diverse workforce is up. Stress related illness alone is reporting a 35% decrease. Cognitive diversity breeds innovation – and the ability to become a more socially inclusive employer brings business benefits and personal ones.

A side effect of this agility is also an improved carbon footprint. Sustainibility is high on the government agenda and BT has witnessed agility bring improve its sustainability.

But agility can’t happen all by itself. A company must have a cultural mindset that welcomes innovation and strong trust in its people. Cost per head – technology is cheaper than space – so business wise it makes financial sense to consider a different approach. Diversity improves innovation and empowered and engaged employees deliver far more when they are genuinely trusted to get on with task focused work.

And so on that note – I will stop working for my agile employers on a Tuesday night and sign off happily… (as Tuesday nights when the kids are in bed is a time and a place that works for me… Task completed, no boundaries!!)

http://fmlink.com/articles/british-telecom-moves-one-step-beyond-flexible-working-to-agile-working-2/

https://www.glassdoor.co.uk/blog/9-companies-really-flexible/

 

Workplaces of the future

Workplaces of the future

Total Talent Management is the current avant-garde of recruitment. The next method of competitive advantage. Everyone jostling for the “best” and most “talented” candidates and implementing benefit and reward schemes to ensure they retain their loyalty and dedication (Hardly a light bulb moment in the evolution of employee / employer relations).

But here is the thing. Not everyone is or can be the BEST.

In fact – the vast majority of us cannot, by default be the most talented.

So – given that this is an absolute – how can companies and recruitment alike – possibly begin to align the search for the best candidate with the population of potential employees that exist.

Talent scarcity is a big concern for the C-suite. Put simply – there are currently not enough people with the right skills / experience ready to step into roles. The supposed / perceived talent gap is driving the need for a shift in traditional recruitment and retention strategies to a more innovative and employee focused approach

So given that there is not enough Talent (or even that Talent in itself is not enough) – the future of talent management, at least in some part, must lie in truly understanding our employees in order to unlock potential; what motivates them, what is important to them?

What is needed is agility, connectivity, speed and cognitive diversity. The ability to respond in an ever shifting environment. Business must change – not just to take in the demands of the so called 4th industrial revolution, but also to reflect the changing workforce demographics and expectations of today and tomorrow.

It’s time to rethink what Talent management actually entails:

The Mercer Talent Trends review for 2017 raises some critical new perspectives for the age of disruption

Change:

The future of business is transformation. Evolution has already occurred – in order to stay ahead the pace of change needs to be rapid, efficiency increased and customer experience improved. And somehow – in this whirlwind of advancement – the focus on People within the organisation needs to stay high to ensure that the growth is sustainable.

93 % of businesses are planning to effect organisational change within the next 2 years – replacing the traditional vertical top down approach with a more streamlined and customer focused horizontal structure. This removes some of the more formal management roles and requires greater autonomy and critical thinking among employees.

Redesign is critical to success and having a solid “decision science” behind this will ensure that the new job roles accurately reflect the needs of agility, innovation and simplicity. As many of the new roles have no precedent – they need to be outlined via business contribution rather than specific “job spec” language. Changing job evaluation methodology has to be a key focus for TTM to assist with the change process.

Digital is what is pushing this change agenda – yet the vast majority of businesses do not feel they are a “digital company”. Most corporations have focussed on the external process first leaving the employee experience for later. Yet in the ever shifting world where talent is in short supply this is a short sighted and risky approach to take.

Personalization

A corporate “culture” is not a new premise. Far from it. What has shifted is that it is now no longer good enough to have a one size fits all approach to corporate culture. Gone is the narrow focus of company engagement – instead enter the world of employee experience. By this we mean a tailored approach, a person centric holistic view of the individual employee. A list of standard global perks and benefits is outdated and does not cater for the changing demands of the employee. Yet this is where the digital age can truly come into its own. Greater flexibility in working practices is becoming far easier to balance with corporate strategies due to technological advances. Think real-time workforce apps and career matching!

However there is still work to be done – many employees still report concerns that so called flexible working is perceived as a perk rather than as a means of optimising individual circumstances to bring about maximum return for everyone. It is estimated that 75% of the worlds workforce will be Millennials by 2025 – if you do not change with the times and cater for the needs of the many then you will become part of the problem.

True personalisation of the employee experience needs to include more than just a benefits package. Businesses need to consider the health, wealth and career path of their talent. Nurture and reward a culture of “work working for you” and utilise technology to act as a differentiator for your business.

Rewards

Given the shift in a one size fits all approach to corporate culture, it is no surprise that a change in how employees are rewarded is also on the cards. Whilst the old guard of fair and competitive pay and career opportunities still rank highly with employees, these are no longer the only way to reward and recognise contribution.

A climate of uncertainty is leading many employees to re-evaluate where and how they want to work. Corporate values are often measured via its performance management and rewards scheme and as such 83 % of companies have made / planning to make changes to their goal setting processes.

Exactly how rewards are calculated seems to be up for debate – but transparency about the metrics seems to be critical. Whether your performance ratings are numerical or verbal seems to matter less than a forward progressive approach to career development. The basics still count. A fair and transparent contractual reward system coupled with clear individual and team performance metrics. Add to this a greater clarity of information dissemination about career progression and further opportunity / reward for greater performance and it would seem that the ability to reward fairly and positively is on chart for effective change in 2017

Analytics

The sheer amount of real-time data available is greater today than ever before. Yet despite this wealth of information the progress towards “predictive” analysis is still slow. Mercer reports that almost 1 in 4 companies are still only generating basic talent management descriptive reports and historical trend analysis.

Deloitte Human Capital Trends report echoes this feeling. Highlighting a mere 8% of respondents using tools such as Organisational Network Analysis (ONA) to help inform better growth and redesign.

Properly done, Talent Analysis has the capacity to drive employee performance by providing the evidence that underpins talent management and business decisions. Given the rapid speed of corporate change, the ability to utilise talent data will not only help minimise the risk of talent loss, low productivity and engagement but also ensure corporations are better placed to plan for the workplace of the future.

As part of providing a fully integrated TTM service we must help corporations view talent through a different lens, to help them discover the potential and untapped skills in their existing employees.

The talent is there – the process of evaluating and developing it needs to evolve!

Climbing the Career Ladder

Climbing the Career Ladder

IT is where it’s at! Demand for skilled technical staff is outstripping supply and nearly half of organisations were planning to recruit technical staff according to the IET’s Skills & Demand in Industry Report 2014.

Almost every company, in every industry, now has a digital strategy or has incorporated innovative IT into every strand of the business. The “digital agenda” and cyber security is driving an increase in hiring activity.

Great!

That means there are more jobs to go around.

So the time is now to ensure that you are in the IT crowd. This is a busy time and a competitive marketplace, filled with opportunities – make sure you are best placed to be climbing the career ladder!!

Customise and Control your CV

In short – tailor and target your CV to the role you are applying for.  Employers don’t want to be searching through line after line of text. Highlight areas that show roles specific skills. A good sharp, customised CV show attention to detail – a great thing to show a future employer!

To ensure a more successful viewing of this now perfectly aligned CV – you need to be aware of application processes. These wonderful technologies can now allow thousands of application for a single job through online systems. You need to be sure that your CV is getting in front of the right people AND for the right roles – otherwise all that tailoring was for nothing!

 

Don’t over egg the custard

We all know that IT brings with it many advantages…you are applying for a role in IT!! So perhaps showing off through fancy HTML  / graphics and dingbats fonts isn’t the best way to show off your skills. Formatting is being taught in primary schools – so leave flashy graphics to your kids powerpoint presentations – and stick to presenting a great role specific CV as suggested above!

On a more practical note – some companies use automation to check CVs – so anything that can’t be scanned – will be dumped!!

 

Clean up your online presence

We are cyber voyeurs these days. Its true – any employer worth their salt will have screened possible candidates’ online presence. We check your social media, your blogs and what online groups you may contribute to. So make sure your private stuff stays private – and think about your online feeds. It may only take a minute to fire off that tweet – but it can stick with you (positively and negatively!) for a lot longer!

 

Employment history

This is important. And here is where it’s critical that you read the job spec correctly! Make sure you pick the bits from your previous employment history that are relevant to the role you are currently applying for. Ideally show your your work supported the business and not only the IT department. Show what impact you have made – not just a task list.

If this is your first job – then include any volunteering / shadowing that you have done – both to show a willingness to work and learn – and also to show that you have been gaining practical experience.

Show you can do IT anywhere

IT sits anywhere!! That is in part why demand is so high! But it now means you’ll have to provide evidence that you can work with the people who use IT systems, not just the people who build and maintain them! This means that whilst technical skills are important, the ability to learn fast, deal with pressure, be creative in solving problems and communicate effectively are equally needed!

So when putting that CV together (tailored to the role of course!!) make sure that you highlight evidence of your ability to work collaboratively across departments!!

Show your personality

Being employable isn’t all about the technical skills you have, In fact increasingly employers are hiring for potential rather than purely a skillset. So do show that you are a well rounded individual. You don’t just go to work to deal with a machine – you need to be part of a unit – and that is where you personality comes in..

 

BUT… not too much..

What role you played in the primary nativity is a step too far!! Pick the key “extras” and stick to those. Adding too much “filler” can actually be detrimental as it can look as though you have cut and pasted a hobbies list!!!

Don’t lie

Quite why some people think that lying on the CV is a good idea is beyond me!! Emphasise the good bits by all means – but just don’t make it up.

You will get caught!!! Maybe not straight away – but lies have a nasty habit of coming back to bite you when you least expect them to!

 

Need more Help?

That’s what we do!!

Contact Saxus Solutions at:  0207 953 9760

Move up or move over – how to use technology AND talent to deliver your business

Move up or move over – how to use technology AND talent to deliver your business

More than ever before – IT sits at the heart of everything “business”.It is no longer a question of having an IT department, it is now more that IT its an overarching business principle.Business now is totally dependent on being digital – and this means changing the way we have traditionally viewed our IT departments!

Digital places IT at a critical juncture: change or be changed. IT MUST be a partner in driving business value; How exciting that IT is truly instrumental in marrying technology AND talent to realise business outcomes and innovation.

Managing your IT talent is becoming ever more critical to business success.The traditional role of the IT professional no longer exists and an increasing number of “new IT professionals” are now embedded throughout the organisation, meaning that innovation can and will happen independently of the IT department! This requires a balancing of the skills triangle – Business + digital + technology, and IT leaders MUST help the workforce adopt new roles accordingly.

The pool from which IT talent can be drawn from is also now a global pond.IT workers are highly mobile and can be from a broad geographical and cultural base.This requires a shift in focus to managing IT diversity which as well as managing a need for more business and market savvy IT professionals than ever before.

On the whole this is a massively positive change – IT professionals are now genuine partners in driving change across the organisation. But as we all know – “ Mindset” is a slow turning ship however reluctance to embrace the new distribution of your IT department throughout the business will slow the rate of advances to be made.

So what should you do about this? Well it will require a degree of reinvention and a move away from the traditional company structure! Invent a new IT organization; new structures and interaction models that make best use of skills and capabilities across the whole organization.

Now is the time to fix those “legacy issues”. Proactively start strategic workforce planning. In order to deliver multispeed IT a huge degree of flexibility is required.Your plan needs to consider how to re-skill, attract and source talent that matches both the digital demand of the business and IT.

Technology Goals

So think about Refining the “IT department” – into the IT business.This subtle yet critical mindset shift will help to bring about a more genuine partnership role. IT will now be a driver in business innovation.

And IT professionals…. there is a mindset and cultural shift for you here too. As IT becomes a more integrated department – this will require more than just typical skills. Ensure that you are “skills savvy” (see blog post on soft skills) and be ready to deliver innovation wherever it’s needed throughout the organisation!

Three Heads are Better than One

Three Heads are Better than One

This has been a very exciting week for us here at Saxus Solutions – as you may have seen in the latest Industry news – we have finally been able to share the details of the merger between Saxus Solutions and IS Recruitment (ISR)! -Official Press Release

Like all good relationships – they take time to build – and we have obviously been rehearsing away behind the scenes – ready for the Curtain Call on our “First Night”. And it’s here – and we are out there, ready to (hopefully !) receive the accolades for a performance done well.

A little more “personal” history of this merger if I may…

ISR and Saxus Solutions both were born from a desire to do things differently, to make recruitment less of a dirty word. Iain Brassell and I have known each other for many years – having both served out our recruitment “apprenticeships” together  at what was then, probably, one of the best technical recruitment agencies in the world. It gave us both an excellent grounding as to what can be achieved – and also the desire to offer a more personal service in the end.

Both Iain and I then decided to take these excellent beginnings and turn them, respectively into Saxus Solutions (2003) and ISR (2005). Between Iain and me alone we have nearly 40 years experience in Recruitment – and we like to think that this shows positively in what we bring to you, our clients.

A good business partnership is a lot like marriage (and frequently can take up more time!!) so it’s vital that not only are your business interests in sync, but that you actually have respect for your Business Partner.

Our third Director, Simon Mattock, also brings a wealth of recruitment experience with him. Simon originally joined ISR as a result of a chance reunion at a Charlatans gig at The Apollo Theatre in Manchester over seven years ago. Simon had worked with both myself and Iain prior to this and he expressed a desire similar to ours; to work with a new model of recruitment that was focused on direct business relationships and professional working practice. He was immediately attracted by ISR’s culture, vision and ability to deliver in Technical Recruitment. Based on these similar views and opinions, Simon came on board and launched our first “non-IT” specific practice, managing a team of six Recruitment and Delivery Consultants. His success and commitment made him a natural choice for appointment to the Board of Directors.

So musical tastes aside, that’s the major reason why IS Recruitment and Saxus Solutions are such a great fit. We have a shared vision and values, we have extensive experience in our industries, and we know each other’s work ethics. We have already got an effective communication strategy! Our Specialities are complementary – and our increased UK and global presence gives us better access to the talent pool.

We truly believe that 3 heads are better than one – provided the goals and company culture match up! By merging 2 companies with a strong desire to offer the best there is in terms of service – we are strengthening our ability to deliver. This merger adds depth to our offerings – and we truly believe that you will see the difference!

Full “official details” regarding the merger – can be found here -Official Press Release

Spaghetti for Breakfast

Spaghetti for Breakfast

An unusual treat some might say – but we at Saxus like to do IT differently – and so we kicked off our quarterly breakfast meeting series with a healthy dose of some technological pasta

Saxus was delighted to welcome Ian Hadland as our first guest speaker.Ian is the Managing Director of Caedent Ltd who specialises in the delivery of agile, flexible and high value business solutions for the insurance industry, against flexible business models”. Ian brings 24 years worth of global experience to the table – which more than qualifies him to discuss spaghetti for breakfast!

Michael Smith, Managing Director of Saxus Solutions, kick started the discussions with an outline of current industry issues as viewed from the recruitment side of the table. The current IT recruitment landscape shows a shortage of candidates and increased demands from Clients. Couple this with frequently ineffective and outdated internal processes and it is easy to see why there can often seem to be a “loggerhead” situation between recruitment companies and the industry at large.

Saxus believes that Insurance, in terms of investment in Technology, is at a cross roads. Years of under investment and an unwillingness to adopt / invest in new technologies and practices have created a situation whereby current systems are just about fit for purpose. How does this manifest itself –

  • They lack the flexibility / functionality to meet future business demands – lose competitiveness
  • Myriad of acquisitions / mergers created an integration nightmare – Ian spoke more on this but suffice to say it a massive issue
  • Lack of experienced / skilled resource to cope with current and future technology demands
  • Inability to get buy in from the board – it is going to be expensive with no guarantee of success

Best Practice – how we can work together to achieve the best outcome was discussed.. but that’s a whole new blog post.. Check back for more on this in next week’s blog post!

Ian spoke then eloquently to a group of 20 executives from many industry giants such as Audatex, Grant Thornton, Total Systems and Novae on the topic of Insurance& the legacy Spaghetti: The Interaction between mainline, peripheral and core technologies”

The insurance industry is drowning in “spaghetti” –  a jumble of networks, infrastructure, applications, databases and operating systems. There is an awful lot of technology going on.. and this is causing significant issues within the industry.

Since 2008 there has understandably been reluctance by the Insurance industry to make significant investments into technologies. Our world, especially at board level has become more risk averse. There have been some major programme failures from leading software companies during this time – which raises further concerns about investment. The solutions proposed seem to be adequate and there is an overriding belief that it is cheaper to maintain the known (albeit in adequate!) solutions! Couple this with a lack of understanding of what is actually needed to move processes forward and it is easy to see how the huge plate of “legacy spaghetti” has arrived.

Ian postulated several options for how to improve the current situation – ranging from the ostrich approach to a more radical suggestion of developing something new that actually fits!

He ably demonstrated some of the key lessons he had learned from his work over the last 24 years – not least of which was that early engagement between the Change team and the Systems team is critical to success.

Ian went on to outline some insightful conclusions – highlighting that education from the top down and bottom up is crucial in successfully finding a way out of the technology jungle. He explained that dedicated teams are integral to success – and that we must move away from the idea of a one size fits all approach and merely maintaining the existing “spaghetti” – to a more unique perspective “we can transition groups of products / countries onto platforms suitable for their aspirations”

Lively debate followed – and some breakfast – of the pastry rather than pasta variety! The meeting was scheduled to be completed by 9am which we were just about able to stick to however, the post discussions were so intriguing and lively that we had to be kicked out by our gracious host as the chit chat extended for almost an additional hour such was the intense nature of the discussion!

Saxus is delighted at the feedback from this meeting. We look forward to welcoming more of you to join us for some discussions and donuts next quarter!

JOB DESCRIPTION: A UK based software and services company that provides systems to the financial services market with an international client-base is looking to add a C# Developer to their current team.They are seeking a developer to work with the Development and Support group on their leading edge financial applications. Candidates will be considered with

Our Clients
MENU