Ryan Ollerenshaw has been specializing in user experience recruitment for over a decade, helping companies to understand how to hire ux designer contract and permanent positions. He has been sitting down with UX leaders from across Europe to understand better how they are structuring their teams, the challenges they face, and dive into some of their most outstanding achievements.
Ryan caught up with Paul Lyngby -Trow UX Leader with over 20 years of experience in the industry to discuss the ins and outs of hiring and retaining UX talent. This article is the second in the series of a three-part interview with Paul. Catch the first installment about structuring the perfect UX team here.
When you are hiring and looking to retain, does it all come down to salaries, or do you think it might come down to other factors like the types of projects? I'm noticing that even if companies like investment banks are paying huge salaries if the person doesn't have an affinity with that brand or that type of business, they generally won't want to work there.
It's certainly not always about the money; several other factors are considered. Getting that work/life balance is so important, especially for employees with families. Companies are more attractive if they can be more flexible with working hours, offering working from home days and adaptable start times, so there is time to drop the kids at school.
I think company perks also come into play, the little extra benefits you get as part of your package that make you feel special as an employee and gives you that extra level of security. That could be; a good pension contribution, health care, gym membership, company phone, etc, all that good stuff.
For a UX designer or researcher, the working environment is crucial. A company that has a mature level of understanding of user experience is what candidates are looking for. You don't want to come to a company where you're having to fight to establish UX processes. I've been there, I've done that quite a lot over the years; those days should be over in 2021. I'm sure many people don't want to have that fight that's going to interfere with the quality of the work they are producing and ultimately the end product or feature being released.
In terms of industry affinity, I think you are spot on. I know certain designers that would never work in the betting and gaming industry, no matter how much money was thrown their way.
In my experience, the UX professional needs to have some passion for the role he or she is applying for. Their interest is usually evident at the interview when they are talking about why they want to work for the company.
As much as the industry needs to hire new talent consistently, you also need to retain them. How can we keep the team engaged and retain them?
That is an interesting question. I like to think my style of leadership is very open. I aim to create a structured environment that allows for autonomy. This lets employees feel valued, bringing in new creative, experimental ideas that benefit the team. The team at dnata was very open and collaborative. We were all very passionate about UX and, we did a lot of great work. The retention level was high. We were a very close team, even though we were based in various locations.
For team members that are looking for career progression, you also need to have a personal development process in place. Training is super important and helps Uxers feel they can progress in the future. Conference budget is also vital to keep the team in touch with industry standards.
You can only do so much, though. I think some UX designers and researchers get to a stage where they want to go and look at another industry. So, maybe they work in one sector for three or four years but then they want to try something else. I think you can create this amazing environment, but people will start to think about other things as well. They probably need to revaluate themselves every year.
So to keep your UX team engaged. Do you think there's an argument to move people around to various projects and different teams? To try to minimize that wear out of people becoming less interested?
I have discussed looking at a rotation system with my UX teams before. If we had moved to more of a 'Spotify style' tribes model where people are looking at particular journeys or components, then we would have moved to that. It keeps it a bit more fresh and exciting, giving them more opportunities to work on different projects across various work streams.
This is a difficult one. I know a manager's job is never easy, but how would you manage it if someone such as a product designer really wants to upskill in their research? Is that something that you can allow? Or do you just have to look at the deliverables and job that needs to be done?
This would not be a problem for me. If they had a real passion for it, I would help them with any training needed. Maybe initially, it might be a small percentage of their time researching and helping out with the user testing, creating the test scripts, etc.
Then potentially starting to help out on workshops and gaining more experience. I want people to be happy with the work they're doing. We always need more people to understand user research techniques. So, I'll be all for that.
If they want to move into that area, I would have to think about how we deal with that. It's about setting expectations at the beginning. Suppose they're embedded as part of a key workstream. I'd have to have that conversation to see if I could get some additional budget for another head. It'll be tricky, but it's not an impossible task. I'd rather retain good people, and I think there should be that space to move around if they want to.
So it's trying to ensure that you understand the team's goals and what they're hoping to get out of their career and then try your best to try and marry up what you can offer with that?
Yes, that has been my overall strategy.
If you are looking for a user experience recruitment agency that can supply either UX designer contract or permanent talent then get in touch with Ryan and the team.
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