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  • Eric Norden

Battling Through the Recession – Key Resources

How to address labor challenges heading into 2023




What are we seeing in the markets?


As we continue to assist our partner companies through the challenges of a rapidly changing landscape, the consistent message we hear is the challenge of retaining and finding capable resources. At a recent conference of Private Equity and business leaders we heard that:

  • Financial visibility is improving. The path that the Federal Reserve is providing is helping with understanding of capital availability and overall liquidity.

  • Supply chain constraints are easing. Executives shared that the fundamentals of the supply chain challenges are beginning to solve themselves. Port availability, shipping and key parts supply have shown substantial improvement over the past quarter.

  • Labor continues to be a challenge. The group consensus was the remaining, unsolved problem of the labor market. The problem is multi-faceted and reaches far beyond general availability.


The continuing challenge of building and maintaining teams

New employees entering the workforce have dramatically different expectations than those that are exiting. Companies have continuously reduced their training budgets, hesitating to invest in employees that might be departing.


“The only thing worse than training your employees and having them leave is not training them and having them stay.” - Henry Ford, Founder, Ford Motor Company

The general labor availability constraints have made it very easy for talented employees to quickly move to other organizations. Immediate benefits, bonuses and transition allowances can be rich and facilitate rapid movement of talented resources. With already constrained IT teams, losing key resources can have a dramatic impact and significant costs associated with turnover (recruiting, retraining, disruption and lost productivity).



What can you be doing?


As IT leaders continue to address these problems, we’ve heard of both innovative ideas and “good old fashion” approaches coming back into style.


Addressing the labor challenges

Addressing the need for training isn’t necessarily a function of operating expenses. More often it’s giving adequate time for resource to self-train. We’ve heard for years that resources don’t necessarily need to attend the next big conference. Many of the stellar performers we have seen over the years have been self-taught. Giving those resources time for deep study and an opportunity to apply the knowledge can be more affordable for the organization and satisfying for the employee. For example, one approach might be to allow 2 days a week for one month for a resource to dive deeply into a subject and then quickly be able to apply that new knowledge in their role. Training and content are readily available – and subscriptions are cheap. Leaders will need to plan carefully for their resource by clearing calendars and communicating that said resource may be unavailable (easier said than done when investing in go-to resources, for certain).


We heard from corporate leaders that promoting from within via training and escalating responsibilities has had a very positive impact this year – a great way to continue to build your internal talent and open up more entry-level positions. Indeed, what was old is now new again.


Swiss Army Knives

In our own group discussions, we’ve talked about the notion that many times the required resources may be found within your own team. Many analysts or engineers are looking for that next challenge (possibly outside your organization) and by having in-depth conversations about career paths and goals, you may find they’re ready to level up into that next challenge. For instance, having that system engineer step into a cybersecurity role may not be the stretch it looks like. With a bit of mentoring and training, both your challenge and the next level in an internal resource’s career path can be satisfied.


This point was reinforced with a recent conversation with a CIO that was doing just that: looking for resources to continue to build the breadth of their skill set and grow. Having and developing multi-skilled resources provides flexibility for organizations and additional opportunities for other team members. Having a those “Swiss army knives” at your disposal can be just the flex a team needs.



How Can X1 Help?


As we’ve touched on in recent articles, IT leaders need to continue to focus on their teams and retaining key contributors. As leaders refine their strategy, they will need to ensure talent, technology and processes harmonize toward their goals.

  • Optimizing your organizational structure and defining, recruiting and onboarding key resources to carry you through your next phase of evolution – we have numerous resources in-network and on our team and can quickly organize to provide the key talent you need

    • Developing innovative approaches to training and retaining key resources

    • Identifying obvious and not so obvious key contributors all levels within your organization

    • Planning for better development and optimization of internal resources

  • Helping to define (or refine) and execute your 18-24 month IT strategy to ensure stability and continuity of services

  • Identifying budgetary savings strategies and renegotiating your base contracts to reduce your overall spending – including sensible use of managed service providers or offshoring, when it makes sense

  • Providing dedicated IT leadership for key company projects to ensure you have the dedicated bandwidth to execute successfully

  • Managing completion for integration of prior acquisitions and ensuring alignment

  • Conducting a risk assessment of your current environment and establishing a plan of action to mitigate major risks identified


Supporting Articles




 

Contact

Justin Webb Founder & Managing Director Justin@x1consulting.com 540.412.8227



Eric Norden Managing Director Eric@x1consulting.com 404.434.6915



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