The biggest challenge to blockchainÂ adoption is finding highly skilled workers.
By Monique Black
Blockchain is radically changing the world as we knowÂ it. The technology, best known for its role in recordingÂ Bitcoin transactions, is an encrypted digital network ofÂ information that is organized into groups of data calledÂ âblocksâ and easily accessed by everyone in a âchain.âÂ Blockchain provides an efficient and secure way to storeÂ and share personal data, creating an infrastructure of trustÂ that will impact personal lives, business, and governmentÂ across the globe.
It is expected that this disruptive technology willÂ specifically transform transaction-based industries such asÂ financial services, supply chain, healthcare, and real estate.Â Not only will HR teams need to provide strategic supportÂ to their companiesâ blockchain endeavors, but HR mustÂ also prepare for the possibility of adopting blockchainÂ technology into HR processes. For instance, blockchainÂ is anticipated to augment background screenings byÂ validating employment records and education credentials,Â optimizing efficiency and ensuring truthfulness of data.
While the emergence of blockchain is exciting andÂ companies are working to understand how this technologyÂ may disrupt or revolutionize their businesses, the demandÂ for qualified blockchain talent is exploding amid aÂ limited global talent pool. InÂ todayâs labor market, theÂ greatest roadblock to a companyâs adoption of blockchainÂ technology may be the inability to source, attract, hire,Â and retain qualifed talent. In fact, soon it may be easier toÂ hire an astronaut than a blockchain developer!
According to a global freelancing website Upwork, 53Â percent of hiring managers surveyed report access toÂ key skills as the biggest hiring challenge. Job boardsÂ are already inundated with advertisements seekingÂ blockchain talent for companies ranging from MicrosoftÂ and IBM to smaller start-ups just entering the space.Â LinkedIn, for example, has more than 2,200 job postingsÂ where âblockchainâ is identified as a keyword in the jobÂ description. Likewise, the job board Indeed hosts almostÂ 1,700 blockchain job advertisements.
With such rapid adoption of this technology in aÂ relatively short timeframe, it is clear that there is notÂ enough developed talent to meet the growing demand.Â This skilled labor shortage, in turn, is driving candidateÂ salaries to astronomical figures. For example, accordingÂ to Forbes, the average salary for a blockchain engineer inÂ Silicon Valley is $158,000 compared to general softwareÂ developers who earn a approximately $105,000, accordingÂ a 2018 Computerworld report.
What Should HR Teams Do?
It is anticipated that HR teams will be tasked withÂ adjusting traditional recruitment strategies to meet theÂ emerging blockchain talent demands. HR leaders mayÂ want to consider adopting some of the following eightÂ strategies to proactively prepare for the staffing demandsÂ that blockchain will bring.
1. Listen and learn. Adopting blockchain certainly has aÂ learning curve, so HR professionals should gain knowledgeÂ of the technology while it is still in its early stages. ThereÂ are many resources availableâfrom books and articles toÂ online trainingâthat HR teams can leverage to becomeÂ familiar with the terminology. Learning the lingo will helpÂ HR teams write effective job descriptions and identify andÂ converse with prospective candidates.
2. Engage and network. HR teams will also need to leverageÂ their professional and social connections in order to adapt.Â Joining blockchain networking groups online as well as inÂ local areas can help leaders build relationships with otherÂ professionals interested in blockchain technology. HRÂ professionals should also keep an eye on the blockchainÂ evolution in the marketplace, especially as it impacts theirÂ businesses and industries. Other best practices includeÂ participating in roundtable discussions with industryÂ leaders, engaging in brainstorming sessions with peers andÂ team members to discuss insights and emerging trends,Â and conceptualizing the application of blockchain in theirÂ businesses.
3. Invest in training and development. HR should notÂ only source externally for blockchain roles; rather,Â organizations should invest in training for internal staffÂ with high potential. Developing blockchain skills internallyÂ can help alleviate the pressure of talent shortages. HRÂ leaders should consider offering flexible scheduling so thatÂ staff can dedicate time to research, identify trends, andÂ develop skills which could be relevant to the business.
4. Establish a budget and develop a compensation structure.Â In order to attract and retain in-demand blockchainÂ experts, companies may need to shift their compensationÂ and bonus packages. Many early-stage blockchainÂ companies have implemented creative compensationÂ practices for hiring and retention, such as issuingÂ cryptocurrency and equity. These practices are becomingÂ common for early stage blockchain talent.
5. Consider a distributed, global workforce. BlockchainÂ is a worldwide initiative, and new talent is emerging allÂ over the globe. HR teams should consider expandingÂ company staffing models to allow for remote teams.Â Nurturing remote teams requires attention to maintainÂ communication and culture, but the results can beÂ incredibly rewarding. Itâs important to keep in mindÂ that hiring a distributed workforce will create uniqueÂ compliance requirements specific to the situation, soÂ organizations must be sure to perform the necessary dueÂ diligence.
6. Leverage companies or freelancers who specialize inÂ blockchain. Outsourcing to industry experts can provideÂ critical expertise, excellent operational efficiency, andÂ speed to market. The cost for such skilled labor can beÂ significant, so organizations should budget appropriately.
7. Use third-party talent acquisition expertise to hireÂ blockchain specialists. Blockchain is a very relationship-drivenÂ field. Recruiters specializing in blockchain can helpÂ bring efficiency to the recruiting process by leveragingÂ their network and relationships.
8. Donât compromise company culture. Culture is the DNAÂ of a company, and maintaining the balance of hiring forÂ skill set and company culture will be important in thisÂ competitive market. With the introduction of blockchainÂ technology into a company, culture may naturally shift. HRÂ teams should consider putting proper measures in place toÂ ensure that the talent being hired aligns with the desiredÂ current and future state of company culture. HR will beÂ tasked with balancing company values and culture withÂ hiring for scarce skills.
Monique Black is head of talent and HR services at blockchain fundÂ Maco.la.