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Oct 06 2015

What it takes to be a great digital workplace

What does it take to attract and keep top talent in the digital age? No matter where your organization is on the path to digital transformation, you can take steps to create a great workplace for the people who can help push you to the next level.

Your business is your people—it’s that simple. So, in our world of technology disruption, it’s up to you to create a work environment that can attract the top digital talent your business needs to thrive. High-performing teams are a collaboration of left- and right-brained people, linking creative genius to business and technology know-how. Building those teams isn’t easy to do—and even more difficult to do at scale—so what does it take to entice that perfect mix of professionals to join your company? And even more important, what does it take to get the most out of their talent toward your business goals?

What was once the “workforce of the future” is fast approaching. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that by 2030 millennials will make up 75 percent of the workforce. This growing workforce of digital natives doesn’t just want a paycheck. They want mobility within their career, flexibility with schedule and location for better work-life balance, and collaborative work environments that emphasize creativity and innovation. And ultimately, they want their work to mean something.

A mature digital organization is set up to offer top talent much of what they’re craving. After all, the digital revolution is really about connection—an organization poised to connect has torn down silos and created paths to innovation, as well as flexible, meaningful work.

What’s more, no matter where your organization is on the path to digital transformation, you can take steps that can attract the talent who can help push you to the next level. Here are some key areas to consider as you create your own great digital workplace.

1. Make room for your people to grow.

Great digital talent thrives on impact and innovation—the same things your company needs to survive in the future. So, if your company prioritizes org charts over smart and impactful contributions, you’re setting yourself up to lose creative up-and-comers—not to mention, potentially falling behind your competition. It’s time to tear down the linear career ladders of the past! Give your talent the opportunity to venture out of the standard career paths and customize their jobs to align with their skillsets, interests, and career goals.

At Deloitte, our talent is often able to choose their client engagements based on their career goals. Doing this not only allows our people to grow and develop their interests—our clients benefit from having talent work on projects they’re enthusiastic about. It’s a win-win situation.

2. Support individuals holistically.

As an organization, it’s your job to make sure your talent doesn’t burn out. That means you should create policies that care for the whole person. This includes obvious things like health care and retirement. It should also extend to paid time off and pro-family policies that allow people to maintain a work-life balance—and this should be seen as a business investment, not a cost. There are plenty of studies showing the increased productivity, resourcefulness, and creativity that come from well-rounded and rested employees. Deloitte professionals enjoy generous paid time off, paid parental leave, and sabbatical programs.

A supportive workplace also engenders a culture of diversity and acceptance—a key element for creative and innovative environments. Deloitte’s Leadership Center for Inclusion has done plenty of research into how pro-family and pro-work-life balance policies can encourage diversity in the workforce—and that enhances innovation. When you create a workplace that isn’t prescriptive about how employees should be, look, and act in certain roles, you encourage individuals to share their valuable perspectives. And we believe all this pays off from a business perspective.

3. Create a culture of innovation.

Innovators and change-makers set bold ambitions and work on the edge of possibility. Set the stage for innovation by breaking down barriers and empowering your workforce. Include a mix of both creative and business talent who can work toward a common goal they are all passionate about. In a truly collaborative environment, everyone participates and contributes to their company ecosystem. Each team member looks for ways to take advantage of a broader network of talent, alliances, and partnerships.

To spark innovation, you need supportive management that allows experimentation, rewards smart risk-taking, and sees failure as part of the process in finding the best solution. Opportunities for creative exploration, like think tanks, encourage design thinking and disruptive ideas. Deloitte provides graduate school assistance as well as professional training at Deloitte University. And Deloitte’s Center for the Edge helps creative talent understand the fundamental changes shaping the world and identify opportunities to mobilize for exceptional performance.

In our fast-paced world of exponential connection, businesses today have little choice but to become great digital workplaces. It’s a matter of survival. Your people are what will spur you to constant evolution and outpacing your competition. But you have to create an environment that not only allows greatness to happen, but truly encourages it.

Andy Main is a principal at Deloitte Consulting LLP, and leads Deloitte Digital’s US practice. Email him at or follow him on Twitter.

Andy’s thoughts on investing in employees are included in this recent article in Investor’s Business Daily.