Top HR challenges at tech companies – our findings at Network Perspective
General business | Specialist | Expert

Top HR challenges at tech companies – our findings at Network Perspective

HR leaders and directors have always been exposed to various challenges. However, after switching to remote work their number has either grown or current challenges gained in strength. We have talked to HR leads in tech organizations to identify the current problems they’re facing as well as how workplace analytics can help in tackling them. 

Top HR challenges at tech companies

#1 Retaining the best talent  

Making sure that your most talented employees don’t jump ship too quickly is a challenge that even the biggest tech giants struggle with.

Just take a look at Facebook, Google, and Apple, where the average tenure is 2.02, 1.9, and 1.85 years respectively. 

The average tenure at the biggest tech companies

Is there anything that businesses can do to prevent employees from leaving? The solution lies in workplace analytics, especially in the data on teamwork habits. 

How evidence-based feedback on work habits within the team and across the teams can help: 

  • Decrease in collaboration overload. At some organizations, employees spend up to 80% of their time on collaborative work, which takes a toll on their focus and productivity. This is known as collaboration overload. Evidence-based feedback can point out whether collaboration workload is an issue at your business, thus lowering the probability of burnout.  
  • Increase in time for deep work and a decrease in context switching. Companies that engage in workforce analytics understand how they can create space and opportunity for more deep focus work (for instance, by blocking or rearranging time in team calendars). They also realize the detrimental effect of context switching, with up to 25 minutes needed to restore focus after an interruption to their initial task. 
  • Increase in leader’s guidance. Ongoing guidance from the leader positively impacts employees’ sense of belonging. Through evidence-based feedback, companies can learn, among others, whether each team member has enough interactions with their manager, whether they meet for 1-on-1s on a regular basis, and feel that they have a support network among senior staff.
  • Increase in learning & development opportunities. An HR Director we spoke to told us that most of their senior-level employees leave around the two-year mark. When asked in exit interviews for the reason, they pointed to the lack of L&D opportunities catered to their skills and experience. 
  • Increase time to optimum productivity. This entails leveraging the right connections and work habits, measuring the experience of newbies, and other methods. We discuss this in more detail in the next point below.

#2 Onboarding quickly & increasing the time to optimum productivity 

Another HR challenge that the majority of tech companies face is onboarding new employees and bringing them up to speed to achieve optimum productivity. How do we actually assess how long it takes for a new hire to become fully productive? It’s vital to consider the four stages of competence, which include:

  • Unconscious incompetence or ignorance, where an individual is unaware of what skills they have and their proficiency,
  • Conscious incompetence, where an employee realizes they lack the necessary skills,
  • Conscious competence, where the individual knows how to perform a task, but it takes them too long to complete it, 
  • Unconscious competence, also known as mastery, is where an employee has had enough practice to be able to complete a task without much thinking about it. They’re also able to teach others how to do it. That’s the moment where they reach optimum productivity. 

Onboarding plays a crucial role in reducing the time it takes for a new hire to reach maximum productivity. 

#3 Increasing time for deep work & decreasing work interruptions 

Increasing time for deep work while reducing context switching and multitasking is also a problem that should be addressed.

Let’s take a closer look at them:

  • Deep work– is the time dedicated solely to uninterrupted, individual work, which lasts at least one hour. The companies should aspire to reach at least 10 hours of deep work per week per employee to achieve high productivity,
  • Context switching – relates to tasks which take less than an hour to perform,
  • Multitasking – happens when employees switch between tasks instead of focusing on one task only. For instance, they respond to emails, while being in a meeting. 

Overall, the fewer multiple-context interactions employees are exposed to, and the more time they spend on deep work, the higher their productivity.

#4 Increasing innovativeness & cross-team connections  

These two are arguably the biggest HR challenges for remote teams. 

According to a 2021 study published by Nature Human Behaviour Journal, organizations that adopted hybrid or remote work during the pandemic are struggling to maintain their organizational structure and productivity intact. After analyzing data such as emails, workweek hours, and calendars for over 61,000 Microsoft employees in the United States, the authors of the study have found that the organization has become more “static and siloed, with fewer bridges between disparate parts”. It has also seen a drop in synchronous communication and a steep increase in asynchronous communication, which tends to disrupt innovativeness and productivity.

At Network Perspective, we offer businesses the opportunity to tackle these obstacles in a number of ways, most importantly by:

  • Tracking the above-mentioned learning & development initiatives (for instance, how often a team member is offered relevant training, or organic opportunities to learn from seniors through lifting interactions)
  • Screening your organization for signs of silos and identifying ways to increase cross-team interactions.

#5 Operating in two structures (formal and project based)

When employees operate under two different structures, it’s very hard for their leader to understand what their work experience is as they split their time between the leader and different projects. There are few tools that connect data on employee experience in both formal and project-based work.

At Network Perspective we integrate with tools that collect data on both of these work types. Thanks to this, the leader knows what projects their team is currently working on, and what their experience is. For instance, they might learn that a given project is causing them to feel overworked. 

Final remarks

Many of the top HR challenges encountered by today’s tech companies circle around hybrid and remote work, as well as the fight for the best talent. To navigate this new reality, it’s important that businesses collect feedback from employees and engage in organization network analysis.

At Network Perspective, we can help you understand your team’s work patterns and understand what shapes their day-to-day work. As a result, you’ll be able to plan proactive measures and boost your employees’ sense of belonging and productivity.

July 15, 2021

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