Strategies for scaling up: Meeting the challenge of hiring for growth in tech
As Scaleup Week 2022 gets under way, BGF investor Nick Holder looks at how fast-growing Midlands tech companies can attract the talent they need to scale at pace.
All companies are still finding it tough to hire people with the skills they need in a competitive jobs market, and the challenge is particularly acute in the tech sector: an estimated 750 job adverts for software developers go live every day in the UK, according to recent research.
The long-term skills gap in the sector is also being compounded by inflation: pay expectations are rising at the same time as businesses are dealing with a jump in energy bills and higher prices. As a result, addressing the issue of talent is more of a priority than ever for tech leaders.
BGF works with fast-growing companies and has invested more than £500 million in tech businesses since we were founded 11 years ago. At this year’s Scaleup Week, in partnership with the ScaleUp Institute, we will have the pleasure of meeting growth companies and the UK’s scaleup leaders in person to find out more about their talent acquisition strategies and how critical ongoing recruitment is to meeting their ambitions to scale.
So how can Midlands-based tech companies create a talent roadmap to support their growth? Our experience shows four steps are essential:
Nurture your employer brand
Although we work with growth companies to refine governance and add rigour to allow them to scale, we recognise that the culture created by each founder is special and has been the secret of the business’s success to date. Fast-growing, entrepreneur-led businesses can be very attractive to new hires and existing employees as they present opportunities for staff to work on many different projects, while contributing to a clearly defined purpose they support and believe in.
The most successful companies clearly communicate their growth ambitions and the associated career opportunities, as well as working hard to maintain a strong employer brand and culture even as the business scales.
Access new talent pools in a remote-working world
Midlands businesses are no longer limited to recruiting locally. Hybrid or remote working has become the norm in many workplaces, and having the option to do so is a priority for many job candidates. The tech sector is better positioned than most to embrace this flexible mindset and companies can look across the UK and internationally to hire the talented and diverse workforce they need. We have several examples of businesses within our Midlands portfolio that have embraced hybrid working with great success including Myzone, Blue Light Card and the recently exited Jola Cloud Solutions. It’s about accessing the right people wherever they are based, communicating effectively, and engaging them in the culture of the company from the start, so they feel united with the team.
Realise the benefits of networks
Having the right experience within the business to handle the day-to-day management of a fast-growing tech company is essential. And when it comes to senior hires, networks are the key to finding experienced people.
BGF’s Talent Network has a connected portfolio of businesses with hundreds of experienced non-executive board members. Through the Expertise On-Demand service, it has also placed experts with portfolio businesses on an ad hoc or consultancy basis.
It is a huge advantage to be able to tap into the experience and expertise of a network of people who have been on the journey of scaling a business and led a large technology organisation.
Build links with educational institutions to develop talent
Forging partnerships with education providers or developing their own training and development programmes is one of the most sustainable ways companies can close the skills gap and build a pipeline for future talent. This is particularly relevant in the Midlands, where companies benefit from close access to many of the UK’s best universities. Within our portfolio of companies, businesses can also share lessons and best practice if this is a new approach for their company.
For tech companies that have proved their product works and established a market, having access to the right people could be the final barrier to reaching the scale they are capable of.
If your company is interested in attracting growth capital investment to support recruitment and add expertise, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or get involved in the Scaleup Week conversation here.