Build a cloud culture to attract and keep skilled people

According to this recent report from Skillsoft, the expanding skills gap will continue to create the most issues during this time of rapid technological change, combined with the intense pressure on IT teams to deliver innovative solutions. The Skillsoft report reveals that 38% of IT decision-makers said that the rate of technological change outpaces their existing skills inventory. In other words, they want to be innovative to capture more market share, but they lack the right in-house skills to pull it off. About one-third of survey respondents (35%) also reported that this problem is compounded by their inability to attract qualified candidates.

The reasons many cite for this shortage include a lack of investment in training resources (32%) and their inability to pay prevailing wages for IT professionals with the correct skill sets (25%). This lines up with the common complaints I hear from enterprises going through digital transformation projects. They can’t find the skills they need, and when they do, the people are too expensive for their budgets. Moreover, staff with the required skills often leave after a short time to move to more lucrative positions.

Although the reports take a regional look at this issue, the new work-from-home culture means the commuting distance to the office no longer limits the talent pool. Because data and applications no longer reside inside enterprise data centers, and with recent improvements in teleconferencing technology, perceptive managers have realized that certain staff don’t need to report to an office on a specific schedule. Savvy cloud professionals have exploited this situation and relocated to areas with lower costs of living while keeping their salaries high. Some of the best cloud architects I know have yet to step into their corporate offices, nor have they met their bosses or coworkers in person.

It’s no surprise that this is the new normal in relatively new or technology-driven enterprises. However, most leaders in traditional enterprises have yet to adapt to this change. Yes, even the more traditional companies allowed hybrid work-from-home policies during the pandemic. But for a variety of reasons tied to the waning days of the pandemic, they require or will require their IT and cloud pros to return to the office for some portion of their time. That means their talent pool remains geographically isolated.

All this leads to my recommendation that you adopt and build a cloud computing culture within enterprise IT, if not within the entire company. Here’s what needs to happen to make cloud culture a reality:

  • Provide a flexible work environment. Work from anywhere is part of this model, but there should also be flexible hours to accommodate a work/life balance.
  • Invest in skills development. The lack of self-driven, continuous learning opportunities will drive talent out of the organization. Courses should be self-paced and tied to some type of reward, such as a $500 gift card for completing a course.
  • Provide remote collaboration capabilities. Remote work requires small pods and/or teams that can share information and work products as easily as if they were sitting across a table.
  • Continuously monitor the salaries of specific skill sets. You need to pay the talent what they are worth in the market and proactively increase salaries as the market shifts to prevent key staff from leaving for more lucrative work.

Although many call this model a “cloud culture,” it’s just an evolution of organizations and skill sets to accommodate a new technology, in this case, the move to cloud. As cloud and other new technologies continue to integrate into enterprises and become the norm, it will become harder—and eventually impossible—to retain and attract innovative, skilled staff if you hang on to an unchanged enterprise culture.

Don’t let resistance to change turn you, your staff, or your enterprise into dinosaurs who stubbornly cling to “the good old days.” No matter how tightly you hold on, those days are already gone.

Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc.