A Report from BCG and The Network Discusses How to Retain Digital Talent in a Hot Market
BOSTON—As many as 40% of employees working in digital fields are actively job hunting, and nearly 75% are expecting to leave their current role in the near future. These were among the findings of a global survey of almost 10,000 employees in digital roles conducted by Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and The Network, a global alliance of recruitment websites. The report, titled Decoding the Digital Talent Challenge, is being released today.
The survey, part of BCG’s Decoding Global Talent series, found that the opportunity to advance their careers is the main driver for technology employees looking to switch roles (63%), followed by looking for new challenges (49%). For digital employees, having a good work-life balance continues to be the most valued aspect of their job. But financial compensation, in the form of both salaries and long-term incentives such as stock options and shares, has gained ground, rising from fifth to third place since the survey was previously conducted in 2018. Diversity and inclusion and environmental issues have also increased in importance over the last year for 61% of employees in digital fields. Fifty percent would not work for companies that do not share their diversity and inclusion beliefs; 48% take the same stance regarding environmental policies.
“Workers in digital roles emerged from the COVID crisis relatively unscathed and are now entering an overheated talent market with many options,” said Orsolya Kovács-Ondrejkovic, an associate director at BCG and a coauthor of the report. “As companies across all industries digitize, salaries for tech talent have skyrocketed to a level where few employers can compete. However, our research shows that money isn’t everything—employers can still be attractive to digital talent with the right workplace culture and values.”
The number of employees in digital fields who are willing to move to another country for work has declined to 55% from 67% in 2018. However, 68% would be happy to work remotely for an employer without a physical presence in their country, significantly higher than the 57% cross-job average.
The US, the UK, and Australia top the list of countries where digital talent would look for remote jobs. For those tech employees looking to move physically for work, preferences have changed since our last survey, with Canada overtaking the US as the most desirable destination. European countries, including Germany, Switzerland, and France, saw a decline in popularity, while Singapore and New Zealand were new entrants to the top ten, reflecting the favorable COVID-19 situation in these countries. The UK maintained its fifth position, with London still the most attractive city for digital talent relocating to another nation.
Although the COVID crisis did not impact technology employees’ working patterns to the same extent as the general workforce, fully remote working increased significantly for employees in these roles, reaching as high as 76% by the end of 2020, compared with 41% in 2018. Ninety-five percent of respondents would like to retain some of that flexibility by working at least one day a week from home, although only 25% would like to work fully remotely. Other types of flexibility are also highly valued, with 75% preferring to work fully or partially flexible hours.
“Developing a comprehensive strategy for digital talent is a must for all employers,” said Pierre Antebi, a co–managing director of The Network and a coauthor of the report. “Enhancing recruitment and retention is an important part of this, ranging from adapting corporate models to offer good balance and flexibility to expanding options for remote international work and reflecting social and environmental values in their employee proposition. Creating an ecosystem of contractors, gig workers, and agencies is an additional valuable tool for sourcing talent in this highly competitive market.”
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