Digital talent won’t want to work at your company if:
Every element of their work will be pored over by multiple layers of bureaucracy. Even if that’s how the rest of the company operates, it can’t spill into the digital department. In a technology environment, new products and businesses spring up daily and a new endeavor can go from conception to launch in a matter of months. Reining in the momentum will be read as inaction and a clear signal the company isn’t willing to grasp the new way of the world.
Mediocre is good enough. While clocking out at 5 p.m. is attractive to some, it will discourage digital talent. They want to be expected to do something great. They want to be pushed. They care about their work. Their leadership, and those they rely on to get things done, must match their appetite for success.
Trial and error is condemned. The freedom to try out new ideas allows employees to take initiative, make decisions, and learn from their mistakes. It also demonstrates an attractive and inspiring entrepreneurial spirit.
Your company is structured so it takes a lifetime to get to the top, and as such there are no digital experts in company-wide leadership positions. Digital talent—often in their 20s and 30s—need to see a clear path for uninhibited career development that’s based on merit, not years spent, and that’s beyond the confines of the digital department. If they don’t, they won’t see a reason to stay with the company in the long term.
Your offices are cold, impersonal and downright stodgy. It may sound like it conflicts with the “you don’t need to be in Silicon Valley point,” but appreciate the nuance. A traditional office layout is designed to communicate power among certain individuals and barriers between departments. This does not support the collaborative ethos which is intrinsic to the web. Companies should do everything possible to provide the digital team friendlier, open office space. A location in a hip, young neighborhood (which surely exists in every mid- to large-sized city) is also a big plus.
Totally agree with (most of) this.
Although, I think that a lot of ‘digital talent’ is lured in by the opposite of that final point. Hip furniture and a trendy location are not indicators of progressive thinking. The human environment is most important: ego usually leads to inefficiency, fear usually stifles innovation. And sometimes introduction of new ‘digital talent’ is viewed as threatening to veterans of more traditional disciplines. Bottom line: an open office layout doesn’t mean open minds. Even for companies new to the digital space — trust and visionary leadership is key.