The Cultural Fit of Resources - How important is it?

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The Cultural Fit of Resources - How important is it?

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The Cultural Fit of Resources - How important is it?
By Margaret Selianakis - Business Development Manager

MOST COMPANIES FIND IT increasingly difficult to retain sought-after and specialised information technology (IT) staff. This is the result of a shift in attitude towards their work environment by IT specialists, who would rather strive for "employability" other than just having a job.

In the past, a permanently employed IT specialist's main concern was job security, while in the case of independent IT contractors, it was maintaining a cash income. In both cases this has now changed to "employability". Employability means that IT specialists would rather be involved in projects that are challenging and will enhance their skills, making them more sought-after and marketable.

This means that IT specialists have a need for an environment which provides training opportunities together with exposure to multiple client and industry sectors offering additional skills development. Of course, it is often not practical for companies to offer IT staff roles that meet this fundamental requirement for on the job training. The result is that IT specialists tend to "job hop", resulting in a loss of key business and technical skills to their employers. While the implementation of a solid (and expensive) induction and training program can reduce the impact of staff turnover to some extent, this challenging staffing model has brought about a shift towards the use of contract specialists for company projects. This helps the IT specialist to develop further and to improve his or her employability. It also helps the IT specialist to gain experience in different areas and satisfies the need for challenges.

This shift offers both a challenge and an opportunity for companies looking to augment their existing workforce with contract staff. By clearly identifying the skills shortage in the company, the use of carefully selected contract resources can assist in cultural change; Their independence and lack of involvement in non-productive company politics can ensure processes and procedures are developed that improve workflow and productivity. The company can also use these contractors as agents of change by introducing a different culture and mindset to the business.

Research has shown that 60% of IT specialists see cultural fit as the most important prerequisite to work for a company, 83% are motivated by challenge, 77% by pay, 68% by strong leadership, 68% by flexibility of time and assignments and 65% by career.

Most businesses do not do enough in this regard and far more attention should be given to the work environment of their specialised IT staff. It is important to realise that this shift has taken place against the background of expectation that the demand for specialist IT skills will exceed the supply in the next few years. There is also a definite move away from large software development teams to packaged product integration projects. The outome of this is an increasing requirement for technical and business integration specialists. Additionally, technical architects, business analysts, certified IT project managers and "in demand specialist skills" will continue to be highly sought-after.

Although there has been a decline in global IT stocks, the IT sector is still considered to be growing as companies become increasingly dependant on IT. It is forecast that by 2006 more than half of the manpower in the developed economies be either be directly in the IT sector, or will be using IT extensively.

The outsourcing by companies of core IT services to external service providers is a worldwide trend and is an area where professional IT resourcing companies like APCS can play a major role. It is expected that this type of professional service delivery will become virtually indispensable.