Demand for the best tech talent is hotter than ever. Nearly 44% of UK technology firms plan to hire staff this year and the sector enjoyed the biggest growth in business activity for almost a decade at the end of 2013, according to the KPMG/Markit Tech Monitor UK Report.
As you might imagine, the skills shortage is leading employers to come up with ever more inventive ways of attracting the best talent. If you’re looking for your next top hire, here are a few of the recruitment methods and rewards offered by the UK’s leading tech companies.
Wellbeing comes first at Microsoft
Employers know that healthy employees make productive employees. While health insurance and on-site gym or subsidized gym membership comes as standard at many companies, Microsoft goes one step further by offering ‘Wellbeing Centres’ at its London and Reading offices.
Here staff can get advice on a range of medical and health issues, including vaccinations and consultations with doctors, nurses and occupational therapists. They also have access to alternative therapies such as acupuncture, hydro-therapy, reflexology, and Indian head massage, plus a life coach to help them “reach their business or personal goals”.
As part of its commitment to a healthy work/life balance, Microsoft boasts a flexible approach to home working, a day nursery at their Reading campus and on-site services, including cash machines and banking facilities.
Work from home (and see the world with unlimited holidays) with Automattic
Lots of tech companies allow employees to work from home now and then, but at Automattic, the company behind blogging platform WordPress, nearly all of the 200-or-so employees work remotely.
Based across 28 different countries, each employee gets just over £1,000 to improve their home office, plus the latest tech equipment for free.
Most day-to-day communication happens in chat rooms or over Google Hangout video meetings, with the company footing the bill for team get-togethers around the world.
Teams meet whenever they want in any location - like Tokyo, Athens, San Francisco or Sydney, and the company hosts a get together once a year. Automattic also boasts an “open vacation policy”. With no set holiday allowance, employees are encouraged to “take the time they need to take vacation, develop interests and spend time with friends and family”.
Transparent recruitment at Accenture
Technology is a fundamental part of Accenture’s business - over 60% of graduates are aligned to this area upon joining – and the company uses a number of innovative technologies as part of its recruitment process to attract technology-savvy talent.
Thanks to Google Hangouts and webinars, Accenture offers potential candidates an insight into what it’s like to work there by interacting with employees at the company.
‘By providing access to employees of all levels, from analysts to senior management, candidates can learn what a career in consulting entails to detailed industry career-related information,’ says Kate Newton, Head of Recruitment at Accenture UK & Ireland.
The company also uses HireVue video-interviewing technology, which allows for live or on demand interviewing of candidates. ‘This means applicants can film the interview at a time and place that suits them and allows prospective candidates to personalise their answers, as opposed to providing a standard CV,’ explains Kate.
‘Digital interviews can be shared throughout the business, giving candidates more exposure to different teams than they would have received from meeting with a single recruiter.’
Career development matters at IBM
Today’s top technology graduates aren’t just looking for a job – they want to work for a company that offers ongoing training and career development.
In addition to starting salaries of £30,000, tech giant IBM offers its graduates a programme of development and support.
Graduates have two managers - a Task Manager (to oversee day-to-day work) and a Professional Development Manager, who helps identify each employee’s skills and development needs and provides training and mentoring to help them get there.
Well fed at Facebook
According to Glassdoor’s Employees’ Choice Awards (rated solely by input from employees) Facebook was the best company to work for in 2013 and ranked in fifth place in 2014.
In addition to a great work culture and trust in chief executive Mark Zuckerberg, employees value a generous holiday allowance (25 days vacation and nine company holidays), paid baby leave for new parents and free food - including kitchens stocked with unlimited snacks.
Tech giant Google has it all – but does big always mean better?
Google is renowned for its worker perks – like free meals, massages and play areas - and boasts a seven-acre sports complex, including a roller hockey rink and basketball court, at its headquarters in California.
Voted the best company to work for by Fortune magazine for the third year in a row, the tech giant has no problem attracting the best candidates - but there are downsides.
Current and former Google employees have been posting their pet peeves about working for company on sharing site Quora, according to Business Insider.
While some complain about the abundance of open areas, which can make it “surprisingly hard to find a quiet, private place to think,” others bemoan the excess of outstanding talent.
One employee wrote: ‘Google has a very high hiring bar due to the strength of the brand name, the pay and perks, and the very positive work culture. As a result, they have their pick of bright candidates, even for the most low-level roles.’
The result, they say, is that workers find it hard to get promoted quickly and the work is not always intellectually rewarding, which results in some Google employees losing their drive.
Play to your strengths
Small to mid-sized technology companies in the UK may not be able to compete with the likes of Google, but are coming up with their own inventive ways to attract and retain staff.
For some start-ups, that might mean allowing workers to take their dog to the office, for others it’s providing a healthy social budget.
Thanks to Glassdoor, where candidates can learn what life is really like at a company, the recruitment process is becoming ever more transparent.
For many talented techies, it’s not all about chill-out zones, on-site gyms and funky decor. The opportunity to make their mark in a fast-paced business, diversify or specialise their skills, and rise up the ranks quickly, is a much better sweetener than free ice-cream.
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