How can local tech companies attract and keep top talent?

Published date: September 18, 2019

According to Tech Nation’s latest report, 19,000 digital tech companies in the East of England generated £8.33bm, making us the third most productive region in the country.

Lucky for us, our region is home to some excellent universities, including the University of East Anglia, University of Suffolk, the University of Essex and or course, the University of Cambridge who are already fuelling our reputation as a major location for tech talent. These are further supported by the likes of the Cambridge Norwich Tech Corridor as well as a host of communities such as NorDev and TechEast.

The challenge, however, is in keeping talent within the East of England. People may already be in love with our region, but we will need to continue to work hard to keep them, particularly if we’re struggling to compete with ‘big city’ salaries. It’s not enough to offer potential employees flexible working, regular social events and some ‘nice’ tech to play with. In order to attract and retain top talent from both inside and outside of our region, companies must stand out.

How? At the very minimum, they should try to offer the same kind of benefits as companies in the big cities. We appreciate that not everyone can be like Google but businesses should try to understand their potential ‘market’, and appeal to what they actually want. Perks like unlimited holidays, higher pension contributions, salary sacrifice and access to cutting-edge tech are just a few of the things that we know appeal to candidates but we aren’t seeing much of being offered. For smaller start-ups or fast-growing organisations, one of the really big wins for employees is equity! An equity offer would attract long-term staff who would literally be invested in your company.

We’ve also seen a rapid increase in investment, with a 206% bump in capital investment in tech firms over the last 12 months. This is advancing a culture of start-ups, growth businesses and collaborations, all of which are adding significant value and diversity to our employment market.

While this is fantastic news, we mustn’t become complacent. With current government and economic uncertainty, we shouldn’t rely on this kind of investment year after year. Employers will need to invest in themselves, particularly when it comes to L&D, culture and well-being programmes. Gone are the days of the typical stereotyped tech professional who doesn’t ever venture in to the sun. Employees want all-round benefits that include private healthcare, good management, mentoring and of course, free lunches.