Attracting and retaining the best tech professionals is a challenge faced by organizations all over the world. We’ve written about how this tech talent problem can be turned into an opportunity, highlighting that developer experience ( DevEx ) is a great way of doing so.
Building an open organization is another way your enterprise can become the place the top tech talents want to work at. This is because tech professionals are drawn to open organizations that promote collaboration, trust, exploration, innovation, community and the opportunity to work on meaningful projects.
We believe there are three core focus points you must consider when building an open enterprise organization: people, technology and processes. It’s about trusting and empowering tech professionals, giving them the tools they want to use and having a global outlook when hiring them.
We’ll talk about each of those facets of an open enterprise organization. But first, we'll discuss what we learned when we asked 400 tech professionals how they see the state of tech talent.
The shortage of talented tech professionals is a challenge tech leaders have been talking about for a long time. We wanted to get a deeper understanding of this problem, so we asked over 400 tech professionals across six continents how tech brands can find and retain the best talent .
A key thing we learned from the tech professionals we spoke to is culture is crucial. Indeed, 80% of our respondents said company culture is a priority when taking a new role. This is something tech leaders agree on, with James Duez, Founder of Rainbird Technologies, stating: “The best tech talent is highly likely to be mission-led and purpose-driven. If the internal culture of their company reflects the values that the company promotes externally, they will feel a strong connection and will go to great lengths to make it successful.” But what exactly does a good culture look like? According to Stefanie Peters, Digital Nomad and CEO of enable2grow, the answer can be found by looking at startups. In her ‘ Open Culture: the secret to sustainable growth and innovation ’ article, Peters argues that: “Startup employees are known for being extremely motivated. They identify deeply with the culture and values of their company because they know the purpose and vision they are building toward. Thanks to an open culture, they feel engaged and as valuable contributors to the company’s progress. To create an open culture that enables continuous change, leaders in companies have to trust their employees, allow them to take on responsibility, and enable them to use their strengths.” It’s unsurprising then that our report found 81% of people working for enterprise companies (500+ employees) think they’ll have a problem finding and keeping talent, compared to just 43% of people in smaller companies (such as startups).
So what then is an open organization? We’ll let Jim Whitehurst, currently an Independent Director at Tanium and formerly the President of IBM and the CEO of Red Hat, author of ‘The Open Organization: Igniting Passion and Performance’, answer that question:
It's: “An organization that engages participative communities both inside and out—responds to opportunities more quickly, has access to resources and talent outside the organization, and inspires, motivates, and empowers people at all levels to act with accountability." What we’re hearing from Whitehurst’s words are the three things we spoke of in our introduction to this article: people, technology and processes. In the following three sections, we address those focus points for creating an open enterprise organization.
According to The New Stack : “The goal for developers is to define and build new features and applications” . To be able to do this, your organization needs to build an open environment where tech professionals are empowered to explore ideas. You can achieve this by establishing a culture of builders and craftspeople, one where people are encouraged to continuously improve, learn and innovate.
Having a culture focused on builders and craftspeople is about appreciating there are often multiple solutions to a single problem and that things will sometimes go wrong. “Failure” is replaced by “Opportunity”, as your developers embrace the journey of individual, team and organizational improvement.
Crucial to creating this environment is being open to knowledge being shared both inside and outside of your organization. You can achieve this by encouraging your staff to participate in technical communities, such as by attending and speaking at events. Doing so gives them the freedom to share, test and expand their ideas in a way that’s open and transparent.
By doing these things, you can build an open enterprise organization that attracts and retains tech professionals because they’ll have the environment to do the things they love — build innovative software that makes a real difference to users, connect with their fellow professionals and share their expertise.
In our ‘ Modern Digital Organization Manifesto ’, we state that: “Open source provides a foundation for custom application development, helps set the culture and values of high-performing teams, and attracts and retains technical talent.” But the value of open source extends beyond this point. The top tech professionals want to use the best technologies and it’s estimated that free and open source software (FOSS) constitutes 70-90% of any given piece of modern software solutions . This means that open source is the foundation of the technologies developers want to use, so leveraging it is a must if you want to give them the right tools to do their best work.
The benefits of bringing open source software (OSS) into your organization go beyond just satisfying the desire of your staff to use the best technologies. OSS “helps accelerate product development and enables faster time to market” , reducing the time it takes to get new products and features into your customers’ hands. This flips the benefit back to your tech professionals, as they’re able to make a greater contribution to the success of your organization.
However, it’s not simply that tech professionals want to use open source software. The Linux Foundation’s 2023 State of Tech Talent Report notes that 29% of tech professionals would like the opportunity to contribute to open source projects they’re interested in. It reiterates the point that the best tech talents want to be part of an open community, specifically the open source one.
The top tech professionals are based all over the world, from the USA to New Zealand. If you want to attract and retain the best tech talent then you need to be open to hiring from across the globe, otherwise you’ll shrink your pool of available candidates.
To have a recruitment strategy that’s open to global talent, you must make remote working a key part of your organization. This is something that shouldn’t be surprising, as it’s been impossible to ignore since the COVID pandemic. However, you may be surprised to learn just how important remote working is to the best tech talent — 67% of the 400+ people we spoke to in our tech talent survey said they’d consider leaving a company if they couldn’t work remotely.
Remote working is something that not only gives tech professionals what they expect from their employer, it also enables your organization to build its presence in different parts of the world. This positions your enterprise to take advantage of global opportunities, as you’ll have talented tech professionals at your disposal who understand the unique requirements of the regions they operate in.
Opening up your enterprise by building an international workforce does come with a range of challenges . These include laws and regulations, time zones, culture and more. However, we at NearForm practice remote working and know it to be successful. We’ve been remote-first for over a decade and that’s enabled us to hire talented tech professionals from Europe, North America, South America and Asia. It’s an approach you can use successfully too, whether that’s by hiring your own team or using an external partner’s experts.
Attracting and retaining the best tech talent is an ongoing challenge for enterprise organizations across the world. There’s no one tactic that will completely solve it, so you must take a multi-faceted approach to ensure your organization has the talented tech professionals it needs.
Building an open enterprise organization means you’ll have an approach to people, technology and processes that promotes collaboration, trust, exploration, innovation, community and the opportunity to work on meaningful projects. These are things the best professionals want from their employer and delivering them will give your organization a great shot of being the enterprise they want to work for.
If you’d like to talk to one of our experts about how to start your journey of building an open enterprise organization, contact NearForm today . We’d love to discuss how we can help you.