By Christa Boffa
The tech industry is hotter than ever before. But what about its talent market?
The tech labor shortage is no news. Thousands of organizations worldwide are competing for professionals to implement, develop, or manage the project of their dreams. And, the industry’s fast-evolving nature, further boosted by the pandemic-driven surge in demand for all sorts of digital solutions, and the Great Resignation that drove millions of professionals out of their jobs in pursuit for their dream job is making finding the right candidates increasingly difficult.
And, the latest studies are indicating this boom in demand isn’t going away anywhere anytime soon. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that between 2022 and 2030, the need for software developers, is expected to increase by 22%—a demand that’s increasing way faster than average. And that’s just one of the many roles in the industry that’s constantly expanding to meet the world’s new needs and preferences.
The Microsoft Dynamics 365 ecosystem is no exception to this surge in talent demand. The tech giant has reported an incredible overall revenue increase—reporting a whopping $17.2bn growth in their FY20 Q4 earnings release, and a further $25.1bn increase in their FY21 Q4 earnings release. This, together with the increase in demand for digital solutions spurred by the pandemic, means that the Microsoft Dynamics hiring market was not left unscathed in the current tech talent shortage. Not to mention that the Great Resignation, and the widening Dynamics skills gap have proved to be a further hurdle for those employers looking for Microsoft Dynamics professionals to support their business and its projects.
Competition for tech professionals has always been fierce—its fast-paced nature means that coming across professionals with the right skills and experience for your specific project was like looking for a needle in a haystack. However, the above factors are putting additional pressure on an already saturated hiring market.
The demand for professionals is exceedingly outpacing the supply—which means two things, mainly. One, that it’s becoming increasingly difficult to staff IT teams who can implement or enhance Microsoft Dynamics projects (in fact, according to our Nigel Frank Careers and Hiring Guide: Microsoft Business Applications Edition, almost half (48%) of Microsoft Dynamics users surveyed cited lack of appropriate skills as the biggest hurdle to Microsoft Dynamics implementation). And, two, that businesses are looking more at what they can do to retain the talent they already have rather than prioritizing external recruitment.
So, in this blog post, we’ll be looking at the top five ways you can retain your Microsoft Dynamics staff, to avoid losing your best staff in this competitive hiring market.
The reasons behind this race for Dynamics talent might be complex—but the solution to retaining your Dynamics talent is much more straightforward. Especially throughout the pandemic, but also through the Great Resignation that followed it, employees became much more confident in voicing their needs. As a result, we’ve seen that now more than ever, employees want to feel valued, and heard by their employers. They want to work for companies whose ideals and values match theirs, those that support their wellbeing, and their professional growth.
In short, to quote Microsoft’s latest Work Trend Index, “employees have a new ‘worth it’ equation”—and companies failing to take note of this equation continue to have issues hiring and retaining their top talent.
This is why we’ve compiled our top five tips for retaining your Dynamics 365:
The term flexibility has been on everyone’s lips during these past two years. The pandemic has given that much-needed boost to more flexible arrangements across several industries, and although home working and flexihours aren’t news to many Microsoft professionals, studies continue to highlight their rising popularity among professionals.
Microsoft’s Work Trend Index has shown that over half of employees are considering going hybrid or remote in the upcoming year. Similarly, in our very own Nigel Frank Careers and Hiring Guide: Microsoft Business Applications Edition, 32% of respondents said they’d be enticed to accept or consider a new role if it offered homeworking, while 22% said the same if the job included flexible working hours. On a similar note, LinkedIn’s the Transformation of L&D study indicated that 81% of executives are altering their workplace policies to offer greater flexibility to their workforce.
All these findings, along with many others are an unequivocal indication that flexibility in today’s hiring market is no longer a matter of if, but rather one of how. Giving your employees more say on where, when, and how can be hugely beneficial for you as an employer. Flexibility is a major driver of productivity. In fact, according to Gartner’s 2021 Digital Worker Experience Survey, 43% of respondents said flexibility in working hours helped them be more productive, and a further 30% of respondents said that less or no time commuting helped them achieve greater productivity.
From an employee’s perspective, more flexibility means a better, and improved work-life equilibrium. And, with 53% of employees in Microsoft’s Work Trend Index 2022 saying they’re likely to prioritize health and well-being over work than before the pandemic, offering employees more flexibility means you’re likelier to fit their “worth it” equation too.
Creating an environment in which everyone can thrive, and not just a selected few is something businesses need to aim for. Not only because that’s the right thing to do—we all want to be valued and appreciated for who we are, and for our workplace to ensure there’s no room for discrimination. But also, because guaranteeing an inclusive workplace, one in which differences are celebrated, means an improved ability to retain your current staff, too.
Improving your organization’s diversity and inclusion efforts goes way beyond having an ED&I policy—but it’s a great start. And yet, in our 2022 Business Applications Careers and Hiring Guide, we found that just 58% of the organizations respondents worked for had a similar policy outlining their work and targets around ED&I. Similarly, almost half of the professionals surveyed (48%) said they haven’t had any equality, diversity, and inclusion training in the workplace, with a further 19% saying they’ve had training, but over a year ago.
In our study, we also asked our respondents whether their employers are providing equal pay for equal work. Just 60% of all respondents believe their employer pays men and women equally—and a further 20% saying they’re not sure. These stats, and many others portray a worrying picture of the ecosystem’s take on gender equality.
And that’s just one of the many facets of equality, diversity, and inclusion. Looking at figures around ED&I in all its entirety we can still conclude the same result: there’s a lot businesses can do to ensure they’re offering equal opportunities for all, and to minimize the risk of any unconscious bias creeping in. This includes anything from rethinking your current decision-making processes, to defining and sharpening your ED&I policy, to providing your teams with training and resources, and much, much more.
You can find more information on the diversity practices you can follow to improve diversity and inclusion in our how-to guide here.
The benefits of providing learning and development opportunities for your staff are twofold. On the one hand, you can ensure your teams have the right tools and knowledge to support your business and its success, and to help you reach your goals more efficiently. On the other hand, you’re providing your employees with one of the most sought-after factors—the opportunity to grow and to prosper professionally.
Learning and development is pivotal to employee retention, and it comes as no surprise that in our latest Microsoft Business Applications Careers and Hiring Guide, the top motivator for employees to consider a new role was lack of career and promotional prospects (41%). Similarly, training and development opportunities ranked among the top ten perks that would draw a candidate to accept or consider a new role (10%), together with opportunities for career progression or a defined career path, and the desire to develop personally.
Especially in an industry that’s developing at the speed of light, learning and development opportunities are non-negotiable in avoiding attrition. Naturally, you’ll need to learn more about your staff’s career aspirations or any knowledge gaps they’re looking to fill. Having frequent 1:1 meetings between managers and their delegates creates a space during which both parties can discuss this openly, outlining any opportunities for growth, set goals, as well as the steps required to achieve them.
But it doesn’t stop there! Putting your words into action is crucial—as you don’t want your employees to think they’re being misled. Things like scheduling time for your staff to take any during their working hours, contributing to the costs of certifications (even if just partially), providing mentorship opportunities, and upskilling your current workforce can show them you stand by your promises.
Priorities among professionals in the Dynamics hiring market might have shifted in recent years—but one thing that remains unchanged is that people want to be rewarded financially for their work. And, that’s rightly so—it’s only fair that people are rewarded for their hard work. Unsurprisingly, the top perk listed by respondents in our Nigel Frank Careers and Hiring Guide: Microsoft Business Applications Edition, that would make them accept or consider a new role is having some sort of bonus (35%)—whether that’s monthly, biannual, or a year-end one. Similarly, the lack of salary or earnings increase was the second-most popular reason (41%) cited by those surveyed that would make them consider a new role.
The tech industry is a high-paying one. So, to win over the right talent, you’ll need to be willing to pay for it too. Otherwise, you’ll risk losing your top employees to the competition. If you want to make sure your salaries are within, or above average, in our Careers and Hiring Guide Microsoft Business Applications Edition 2022 you’ll be able to find a breakdown of salaries from across the globe, covering the entire Business Applications industry.
There’s nothing quite like a toxic workplace to push employees away in droves. Both the pandemic and the Great Resignation have showed us that the modern professional is no longer willing to work for businesses whose values and ethics don’t match their own. Company culture and the overall working environment has ranked third among the factors motivating employees to leave their current role (35%) in our Microsoft Business Applications Careers and Hiring Guide. Other factors, that are often a symptom of an overall toxicity in the workplace such as lack of leadership and vision, and underappreciation in their current company ranked among the top 10 factors too (35% and 27% respectively)—highlighting just how important company culture is to your retention strategy.
Unfortunately, spotting your own company’s red flags is not always easy, and these might require some introspection and self-analysis to figure out. You’ll also need to be open to criticism and offer the opportunity for your employees to provide you with ample feedback. Regular anonymized surveys, 1:1s, and workshops, can serve as a safe space for your staff to voice their concerns—and although they won’t replace the work you need to do as an employer to build, and guarantee a business employees want to be part of, their feedback will surely help you see any blind spots. And finally, don’t forget to regularly follow up with your employees on how you’re addressing these concerns. Otherwise, you risk your staff thinking their feedback is going unheard, which can be even more counterproductive.
Hiring and retaining professionals right now is not an easy feat—but luckily, we’ve got you covered with all the advice to help you navigate your way through such a competitive market. With articles on topics like the future of work for Microsoft Dynamics teams, how to attract and retain Microsoft Dynamics professionals, you’ll find plenty of resources to help you through the hiring process, and to help you understand why it’s so difficult to find Dynamics professionals right now, too.
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