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Culture a top subject during workforce panel at KTech Summit

By Kailyn Lamb, Marketing Content Writer and Editor, PYA

During the last half of the “KTech PULSE Technology Summit,” three leaders from Knoxville-based technology companies talked about recruiting talent. You can read more about the rest of the summit hosted by the Knoxville Technology Council in another article from today’s teknovation.biz newsletter.

Workforce has been a topic of concern for many businesses, with the number of available jobs outpacing the number of unemployed workers. Read more in this teknovation.biz article.

During the summit’s panel, James Luby, Co-Founder and Director of Strategic Sales at Patriot Talent Solutions, was the moderator for three panelists: (1) Stephanie Flood, Chief Information Officer at Clayton Homes; (2) Christine Horwege, Director of Cyber Federal at CGI; and (3) Stephanie Rowan-Waller, Director of Human Resources at Jewelry TV (JTV).

All three women talked about the current status of their business as either fully remote or in a hybrid model. The focus was on bringing the same collaboration you find in the office to a remote space. Before the pandemic, Flood said Clayton was looking to expand its office space. The company signed an enterprise agreement with Zoom and now has “Zoom Rooms” throughout the office space. They have “has really improved our collaboration,” she said.

In addition to the “Zoom Rooms,” Clayton is initiating an innovation process for bringing collaboration to the office.

“We are opening up a tool by which all of our team members across the country can submit innovation ideas,” Flood said. “We’re really excited. We’ve created a committee that will review ideas and progress them through as they make the most sense for the business unit or the enterprise.”

CGI is also trying to initiate programming that brings colleagues together with its “Opt-In” lunch-and-learn video program.

Communication has been crucial during the virtual learning process. All three panelists agreed that office culture before the pandemic helped to make their companies successful. Translating that to the virtual or hybrid workplace has taken time.

“We had to figure out a way to continue to share that culture with folks that are not in our office,” Rowan-Waller said. “Once folks get here, they fall in love with who we are.”

The three also agreed that, in some cases, being a good cultural fit is more important than education or skill sets.

“We’re hiring in folks that might not have a lot of technical expertise but they want to learn,” Flood said, adding that Clayton has an associate’s program to help teach people engineering or other skills.

Rowan-Waller agreed, adding “we’re putting a lot of programs in place to build people up.”

This has become more important as the remote workforce also means that companies are not just competing against each other for local workers. They’re competing nationwide against larger firms.

“The pipeline keeps getting smaller, and it seems like the jobs keep getting larger,” Horwege said.

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