New research has proven that building a digital team is one of the hardest recruitment-focused tasks in the modern workplace. According to recent studies conducted by Indeed, six out of ten of the toughest to fill jobs are within the technology and digital sector.

And with the digital skills gap only set to widen, the roles of HR and Talent Acquisition specialists are strategically evolving in order to continually attract and retain the best people for their digital teams.

There’s a deeper explanation behind the global talent crunch and the skills chasm, but that’s not entirely the reason why HR leaders must get strategic with their digital counterparts.

There’s a fundamental change in the way that digital services are delivered – partly fuelled by technological advances, but also by a general desire within digital teams to bring operations in-house. Whether it’s for greater control, or a lack of perceived value in digital agencies, or even to reduce cost; the ‘insourcing’ shift is a growing trend, and the likes of Sky, L’Oreal and Unilever have all recently built in-house agencies.

However, while having your creative and digital operations under your own roof may seem a solid solution in theory, getting from a-to-b in the middle of talent crunch and with somewhat volatile global markets is not so simple.

How HR leaders can add value.

How do HR leaders respond when asked to look into the feasibility of building your own in-house agency, or replacing digital agency spend with the hiring of a small team?

It goes without saying that such large-scale projects require cross-department cooperation, along with strategic input and value from HR – it shouldn’t be a case of being dictated to or just taking down multiple job briefs. Start with atomising the current capabilities and skills gaps and cross-reference with the development plans of existing team members – retraining your team can serve many purposes.

Once you’ve got an initial map, you can look to build the short and long term strategies. As digital is continually evolving, ensure you’re identifying the right skills to meet your business needs both now and in the future. In order to achieve this, there’s a potential case for a consultancy with digital expertise to produce recommendations – an outside perspective can provide some important clarity.

What steps should HR leaders take to bring operations in-house?

Step 1 – Consult

As with any project, take a proactive and consultative approach with your digital colleagues. Ask questions to understand their objectives and perceived challenges. What’s going to stop them hitting targets? What skills are the digital team missing? Who are the future stars within the team? How strong is the cohesion within the team? What other culture issues may they have? What’s the ROI from their digital agency or outsourcing spend?

Understanding the root cause of any problems or the main drivers for ambitions can help you build the right strategy to meet their needs.

Step 2 – Optimise

We believe that a blend of internal and external expertise is best, but it’s all about the right person for the right job. Work with your digital leaders to understand which tasks are better done in-house and which should be outsourced.  Build development plans for individuals and ensure to have their buy in. There’s also a specific role for digital agencies and freelancers within digital teams, but the key is ensuring that those relationships are optimised and utilised correctly.

Step 3 – Look to the future

The future of work is likely to bring more challenges, so prepare accordingly with any talent strategies you build. To ensure you’re getting a headstart, you can download our Future of Work Report for free by clicking here.

If you’re looking to grow your digital team or build a talent strategy and you’d like some impartial advice from digital experts, then see if our InHouse services can assist.