The evolution of the CIO: an evolving role

Over the last couple of years, CIOs have transformed from managing functional and technology operations into strategic change agents, tasked with enhancing business growth. Chris Adcock, Managing Director of Reed – Technology, explores the latest developments in the role.

4 mins read
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Technology has become ingrained in almost every part of business life – no matter the industry or sector.

As employers have learned to survive in unstable market conditions, they’ve come to realise the value of having an innovative and business-focused chief information officer (CIO).

With technology advancing at an unprecedented pace, the traditional responsibilities of the CIO have expanded, with their role becoming increasingly important to the success of an organisation. In today’s business world, CIOs are required to not only manage IT infrastructure and systems, but also to drive forward and align technology initiatives with overarching business goals.

The changing role

Historically, the CIO's primary focus has been on overseeing the implementation and maintenance of technology systems within an organisation. However, as businesses have become more reliant on technology for their operations and growth, the role has evolved to encompass a broader set of responsibilities.

Today, CIOs are expected to be strategic business partners who are there to help enhance operational efficiency and leverage technology to create competitive advantages – maximising the return on the company’s investment in technology. In other words, it’s now essential for a CIO to focus not only on cost savings, but on using technology to add value and increase revenue for the business.

CIOs are now required to collaborate closely with other c-suite executives to align technology initiatives with overall business objectives, identify opportunities for digital transformation, and mitigate potential risks associated with technology adoption. It’s an exciting era, as CIOs now have the chance to be transformational leaders who can harness technological advancements and data to consolidate their tech stacks and gain efficiency.

Challenges in staying up to date

Staying current with the latest technological developments can be a considerable challenge. The rapid pace of innovation, coupled with the proliferation of widespread AI technologies, presents a daunting task for CIOs looking to stay informed and ready to address the potential impact these technologies can have on their organisation.

According to digital adoption platform, Userlane, and leading consultancy, PwC, almost two thirds of CIOs surveyed were concerned that the state of the economy will affect their digital transformation plans. But at the same time, 62% plan to deepen their investment in technology, illustrating just how important technology integration now is at leadership level.

One of the biggest challenges is offering digital services that are safe and secure for the consumer, which makes cybersecurity a number one priority for the majority of CIOs; their responsibility is to protect the systems and data that shareholders and stakeholders entrust them with.

As cyber threats become more sophisticated, CIOs must continually evaluate and implement robust security measures to safeguard their organisations' data and infrastructure.

Understanding the capabilities of AI

Given the uptake in generative AI across the workplace, it’s no surprise that AI is expected to shape the future of business. Large language models (LLMs) will continue to play a part in generating documentation on business processes, designing training programmes, and writing and rewriting code.

AI has been hotly anticipated by technology departments for a while, but has only recently reached a point where its potential benefits, capabilities, and enhancements, have become clear. CIOs are being asked to learn what AI is capable of and how it can be harnessed to competitive or strategic advantage across the business – similar to the adoption of any other technology.

More recently, generative AI is offering an entry point for companies looking to spearhead investment decisions. Rather than manually researching information, CIOs have the ability to use generative AI to summarise markets, telling them where to look and where to harness department energy.

Managing business needs

This transformation now sees CIOs juggling evolving responsibilities, to shape their departments. This requires a thorough understanding of their organisation's strategic objectives – helped by their c-suite role – as well as the ability to identify and prioritise technology initiatives that will best support those objectives.

As the role grows, it’s important for CIOs to develop and maintain strong relationships with other business leaders and departments, gaining insights into their challenges and opportunities, and leveraging technology to address them. As a company grows, so does the amount of data, which makes having an innovative leader and strong IT department even more essential.

We’re seeing CIOs steering the ship, promoting continuous improvement within their teams, while further encouraging the exploration of new technologies to drive meaningful change to stay competitive, relevant, and secure.

The sooner companies realise the true value of the CIO position, the better their chances of success.

To find a talented tech professional for your company, or to take the next step in your career ,contact our specialist technology recruiters now.

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Inspiring the next generation: the benefits of offering internships
4 mins read

Inspiring the next generation: the benefits of offering internships

The decision to hire interns is not merely a trend, but a strategic must. The opportunities associated with internships can be used to bridge the gap between academic learning and practical application, while also playing a pivotal role in shaping the careers of aspiring professionals.

Towards the end of 2023, Google searches for ‘internships’ increased by 22% to 6,000 searches per month, while the social media platform, TikTok, saw four million views for the hashtag #internships, as more and more students look for opportunities to increase their work experience.

For businesses, investing in paid internships is a strategic move that goes beyond fulfilling corporate social responsibility. It's an investment in the future workforce, creating a talent pool that may later become full-time employees. According to the 2022 Student Recruitment Survey by the Institute of Student Employers, 82% of respondents reported that they recruit interns – showing that internships shouldn’t just be viewed as a gesture of goodwill, but play a pivotal role in recognizing talent, promoting diversity, and contributing to overall business success.

Managed well, an internship can be a viable recruitment option for an organization. But what are the main reasons why businesses should consider running an internship program?

Talent development

Businesses can use internship programs as a proactive approach to identifying and nurturing professionals for their talent pool. They can create direct connections with emerging talent, providing them with first-hand experience in their respective industries – from engineering and technology to sales and procurement.

With skills shortages affecting a large number of sectors, employers that provide a platform for eager individuals to gain paid experience, help ease the pressures many businesses – and professionals – are facing.

Innovation and fresh perspectives

Interns can inject new and exciting perspectives and ideas into the workplace, which can see campaigns thrive and strategies become more impactful. By recognizing that diversity fuels creativity, seeking interns who bring unique insights and approaches to problem-solving will help to enhance the overall creativity and adaptability of the organization.

Introducing different perspectives into your workplace provides a fresh take on the business as a whole. Even though interns won't be responsible for creating new policies or planning a strategy, their outside opinion may improve existing practices.

For example, as more workplaces undergo digital transformation the need for a workforce that is comfortable with various technologically advanced tools has never been more important. Asking for an intern’s feedback on your digital presence and consumer-facing collateral can pinpoint where potential improvements can be made and where new business or custom can be identified.

Social responsibility and diversity

Businesses are increasingly investing in corporate social responsibility and the benefits that come with having a diverse workforce.

Running an internship program allows companies to contribute to ongoing social initiatives by providing valuable opportunities to individuals who may face barriers to entry into the workforce. Employers who actively seek out interns from various demographics can demonstrate their commitment to fairness, equality, and social responsibility – heightening their appeal to professionals looking for 'good' companies to work for.

It’s important to maintain a community-focused approach, ensuring you ‘give back’ by offering young talent the opportunity to thrive and succeed in an internship – helping enhance their career prospects and your reputation at the same time.

Brand image enhancement

In a world where reputation means everything, any opportunity to be seen as an employer of choice can be vital to a successful talent acquisition strategy. Internship programs play a pivotal role in shaping the perception of a company among potential new employees, as well as customers and other stakeholders.

Businesses that actively engage in internships can showcase their commitment to investing in professional development, graduate opportunities, and career changes – creating a positive brand image. This in turn attracts people seeking meaningful opportunities for growth and career progression.

Helping the next generation

There’s a bigger picture to internship programs. Many individuals, especially recent graduates, may face challenges when embarking on a new career path. Those lucky enough to win internships will reap the benefits that come from the experience, not just in adding to their CV, but in self-confidence gained from developing knowledge of their chosen profession, all while making valuable contacts.

Internships ultimately improve future employability and give a head start to those keen to learn sought-after skills in their field, whether that’s invoice management and purchasing in accountancy, or content strategies and communication plans in marketing.

Having interns can potentially help to identify future leaders among your junior employees. When overseeing an intern’s day-to-day activities, some junior employees may demonstrate exceptional management and leadership traits. Once these skills have been identified, you may consider investing in these employees further and upskilling them for future leadership opportunities.

Businesses that offer internships are not just investing in short-term support but are strategically building a foundation for long-term success. An internship is still one of the best ways for professionals to gain that all-important work experience, highlighting the importance a robust internship program plays in growing and expanding the workforce.

Looking to hire experienced professionals to join your team? Contact one of our specialist consultants today.

Transformative talent: how career changers can enrich organisations at any age
3 mins read

Transformative talent: how career changers can enrich organisations at any age

Career changes can help reignite passion for work and are a courageous step at any stage of life. Whatever rung of the corporate ladder an individual has reached, daring to push beyond their comfort zone into a new industry or type of role should be viewed positively by employers. Many workers are looking to fulfil ambitions their original career path couldn’t offer, and after years of experience in a particular sector may be ready to sidestep into something new.

One of the key advantages career changers bring to the table is a wealth of experience gained from diverse industries. Unlike individuals who have followed a linear career trajectory, those who transition between professions bring a multifaceted perspective that can prove invaluable in problem solving, decision-making, and innovation. Their skills and knowledge, acquired over time, can help shape how a team works and even contribute to organisational culture. For example, ex-forces personnel can strengthen communication, discipline, teamwork and leadership in business. 

Here are some other common attributes of those who change their career: 

Resilience

Career changers inherently possess the often-overlooked skills of resilience and adaptability. Navigating the complexities of change, be it industry shifts, new technologies, or different organisational cultures, is second nature to those who have successfully made a career transition.  

This adaptability enhances personal growth and helps employers who rely on teams rolling with operational changes. Resilience under pressure can ultimately save an organisation – whether through an understanding of the nuances of crisis communications or in making board-level decisions.  

Diversity of thought

Career changers, with their varied backgrounds and experiences, inject fresh ideas and approaches to the workplace. This diversity of thought can widen the outlook of a team, influencing new business partnerships, ways of working, as well as cultivating innovation.  

Diversity and inclusion are fundamental to business practice, but many leaders in today’s tech-oriented workplaces are relying on the generation most immersed in digital tools and practices to run the show, discounting those with other capabilities and aptitudes.  

Soft skills

Transferable skills learned across different sectors/industries can be highly beneficial in business, but soft skills are invaluable. Our recent research highlights a new focus among employers to prioritise soft skills over experience in the wake of candidate shortages– good news for career changers who have had years to hone expertise in negotiation, influencing and problem solving. 

Organisations should take steps to challenge age-related stereotypes and welcome those seeking new career journeys. Aside from strength of character, their experience may cover everything from public speaking, networking, customer service to management skills.  

How to attract career changers to your organisation

While the benefits of career changers are evident, it is essential to address the prevalent issue of age bias in the hiring process. The majority of career changers will be people with many years of experience behind them – making their perceived ‘fit’ into a team of younger people a potential issue for millennial leaders/hiring managers. 

A more relaxed approach to role requirements in job adverts can capture the interest of a wider range of people – after all, technical skills can be quickly learned but emotional intelligence, the confidence to experiment, and strategic thinking are harder assets to find.  

Promote stories of career changers who’ve made a difference to your organisation – add case studies and videos to your careers site of employees who found their way into their dream role from other industries. Invite them to become employee ambassadors, attending industry and careers events to help with recruitment. 

Most professionals looking for a different challenge are set on doing meaningful work, rather than trying to climb the corporate ladder or embellish their CVs. Someone who shows genuine passion for an industry or role, regardless of experience, could be your best hire this year. 

Looking to hire experienced professionals for your team? Our experts recruit across 20 sectors and are ready to help you find your next perfect hire. Contact one of our specialist consultants today.  

Five ways your business can reduce presenteeism in the workplace
5 mins read

Five ways your business can reduce presenteeism in the workplace

There is no doubt that absenteeism – regular, unplanned staff absences – is bad for business. But what most employers don’t often realize is that the opposite, referred to as presenteeism, can be just as harmful to your workplace.

What is presenteeism?

Presenteeism is often cited as one of the biggest threats to workplace productivity. It is the phenomenon of employees turning up to work when they are not fully fit, either physically or mentally, and thus performing below their optimal level. These individuals are trying to fulfill their jobs, but due to health problems or other circumstances, can’t work at full capacity.

It can have negative consequences for both the individual and the organization, such as reduced productivity, lower quality of work, increased stress, and higher health risks.

There are various factors that cause presenteeism, such as excessive workload, job insecurity, lack of sick leave, or a culture that rewards long hours and discourages taking breaks. Without a clear separation between work and home – further exacerbated by the introduction of hybrid working – professionals may find it difficult to disconnect and set clear boundaries.

This lack of separation can lead to longer working hours, increased workloads, and, most importantly, difficulty in taking breaks or even time off.

How to tackle presenteeism in your workforce

So, how do you spot the signs of presenteeism, and how do you broach the subject tactfully among your workforce? Here are five ways to banish presenteeism for good:

Recognize the symptoms

Employees with health problems, especially those related to mental health, often feel an inability to disclose their feelings to their manager. At the same time, those in managerial positions are rarely trained to effectively support employees who are struggling.

It’s essential that managers are educated to some degree to be able to notice when employees are showing signs of stress or mental health problems. Not only that, managers need to feel confident and equipped to have open and supportive conversations with employees about their health and overall satisfaction levels while at work.

With almost three in five employees saying they would take less time off work if their employer enhanced the health and wellbeing services available to them, this evidence supports the value of reviewing existing policies and practices. Work-life balance, menopause support, and an ‘open-door’ policy all help build a culture that prioritizes people.

Evaluate your well-being policy

Professionals will often still come to work if they are experiencing long wait times for a doctor’s appointment or if they are unable to get an appointment outside of working hours. This not only impacts the recovery time but can also lead to a build-up of stress while waiting to be seen or awaiting the results of a diagnosis. Ill health, such as colds and coughs, can also be quickly spread around the workplace.

A strategic well-being policy that offers appropriate support can help reduce the impact of presenteeism. Programs that promote good mental, physical, financial, and social health can help prevent illnesses and reduce the impact of long-term conditions. Whether it's discounts to be used on fitness equipment, access to yoga classes, or mental well-being initiatives, a clear plan to help employees can lead to a happier and healthier workforce.

Lead by example

If managers go to work when they are ill, their teams are likely to feel they have to do the same. Leaders need to set a good example and stay at home when they are unwell – especially given flexible working policies are now fully implemented.

Presenteeism often occurs when employees feel they can’t afford to take time off due to heavy workloads, upcoming deadlines or not wanting to burden their colleagues with their absence. It’s important that managers know how much work employees have on, so they are able to help manage it.

Holding frequent one-to-ones or team meetings can help highlight if employees are in need of any support – be it with their work or well-being. This should help reduce any work-related stress and promote healthy working practices to those making a return to work after a prolonged absence.

Clear communication of company culture

Clarify with your workforce about where the company stands on employees coming into work ill, also ensuring a sickness reporting procedure is outlined.

Clearly define and communicate your policies, such as sick pay and time off allowances, and allow employees to ask any questions they may have. It’s also important to communicate the impact that unwell employees coming into work can have on fellow employees, customers, and the wider business.

When you’re clear on where the company stands when it comes to illness and working patterns, employees will feel comfortable staying home and recovering when they’re ill – rather than fearing any potential consequences of doing so.

Empower and trust your employees

It’s the people working in organizations that make the difference. They have the ability to grow business, increase engagement, and enhance reputations. By creating positive and supportive work environments, where employees feel they can take time off when needed, presenteeism can be reduced.

By empowering employees in the workplace, leaders can directly enhance their psychological safety – the belief that they can speak up, take risks, and make mistakes without fear of negative consequences. Employees who feel psychologically safe are more likely to seek help, share ideas, and collaborate with others, which can improve their health and performance.

If presenteeism isn’t already on your radar, it should be. Making appropriate changes to absence policies and aspects of workplace culture will help ensure your workforce is healthier and more motivated. For businesses, an investment in people through good quality employee benefits could be just what workers need to eradicate presenteeism.

If you are searching for a talented professional to join your team, or looking to embark on a new career opportunity, get in touch with one of our specialist consultants today.