Critical roles by sector:  How to make these a core focus.

Every role within an organisation is of importance – enterprises don’t hire employees without a reason, after all – however, there are also roles that are critical. These critical roles vary from sector to sector, but the common thread between them is that because they are so critical, there is additional pressure on the employees that undertake them.

Employees in these roles know they’re critical to the organisation, and this can shift retention dynamics. They also feel the tension of the expectations of them in the roles. The question that every HR expert needs to answer is how can they drive resilience within those critical roles.

Defining Critical Roles

The first step is to define the critical roles within the organisation. As noted in this LinkedIn summary, critical roles are those that have a high impact on an organisation’s performance, innovation, or differentiation. They are the roles that are scarce, specialised, or difficult to replace, and the criteria that are used to define these roles include revenue generation, customer satisfaction, market share, innovation potential, or turnover risk.

For a good example, cyber security is one of the core roles to many modern knowledge businesses. Remember the definition of critical roles is roles that are “scarce, specialised, or difficult to replace,” and cyber security hits all three. 

Additionally, almost every business in every sector has need for cyber security, and that means that cyber experts can find themselves working in a wide range of different environments. Finding the right cyber security expert, and then allowing them to thrive in their role, means not only finding someone that can handle the stresses of cyber security, but also the unique stresses of the environment and sector they operate in – a cyber security expert working for a mining company is going to face vastly different conditions to one working for a bank.

Security professionals are highly trained and specialised – your typical IT pro cannot step into security without further training – and there is a shortfall of 30,000 security professionals across Australia. The combination of scarcity and the difficulty of finding a cyber security professional that can “match” the working environment explains why almost one-half of Australian organisations are struggling to grow because of the shortage, and one in three security professionals expect a pay rise of at least 10 per cent. Despite these demands, one in three IT employees is considering moving on from their jobs, and 50 per cent of workers cite “exhaustion” as a key reason.

A lack of resilience, therefore, is an underlying cause of the churn. It’s easy to understand why IT security roles might be feeling the stress, too. Not only are they likely working in organisations that are understaffed (because they simply can’t find the skills to fill out a team), but cybersecurity has been identified as one of the areas of greatest risk to the organisation. When a full 88 per cent of directors are closely monitoring cybersecurity practices, the stress from such scrutiny can be extreme.Given that the cost of a cyber breach in Australia is $3.35 million, and it’s accelerating rapidly as regulatory penalties increase and consumer patience with organisations and their security runs thin, it is clear that organisations need to focus on the retention of their cyber security team, and do so by building resilience across it.

Resilience In High-Stress Situations

At other times, resilience is required not because of stress created through the work itself, but rather because of the expectations around performance for those in critical roles.

You would not think that the video game industry was one where resilience was required. After all, making games sounds like a great job, and game developers are paid well for their labour.

However, the video game industry is notorious for what is known as “crunch” – a massively elevated workload that goes well beyond standard overtime in the lead-up to a game’s release. “Crunching” is distinguished from overtime because of its sheer intensity and duration, and can result in 80+ hour work weeks for months at a time. 

The industry is constantly discussing how to reduce crunch, but for now, hiring managers need people with resilience for those workloads. When they get the hiring wrong, difficult conditions become catastrophic. 

As noted in a report about a particularly troubled game development studio: “I actually cannot count the amount of ‘stress casualties’ we had on Mass Effect: Andromeda or Anthem,” said a third former BioWare developer in an email. “A ‘stress casualty’ at BioWare means someone had such a mental breakdown from the stress they’re just gone for one to three months. Some come back, some don’t.” 

“Stress casualties” is not a term you want to be applied to your company. However, it would be a mistake to dismiss this as a quirk of the games industry. In Australia, 62 per cent of workers report feeling burned out at work. The impact of burnout is exacerbated when the employee also feels that change is happening so rapidly around them that it’s difficult to keep up. 

At the same time, there are people that thrive in the metaphorical chaos. Those organisations that develop a way to identify and foster those individuals will find that they have the dynamic, high-powered environment to move quickly, pivot fast, and weather the challenges of the current market. 

Ultimately, it is only once organisations and leaders quantify and assess resilience in our people, that they can better shape the environment and provide teams with the tools they need to perform at their best.

Resilience Is Core To Critical Roles

The common thread across these vastly different sectors is that building resilience into the critical roles within the organisation is a risk management priority. Without those roles, the business suffers in such profound ways that the true cost is difficult to calculate.

The challenge is that resilience is a difficult skill to quantify through standard interactions, performance reviews and the like. It is in every individual’s best interest to present themselves as resilient, right up until they’re no longer able to sustain that pretence.

Having a tool that can assess an employee’s capabilities – including resilience – allows an organisation to better understand its ability to weather the challenges across its critical roles and remain resilient into the future. These businesses will have the strategic capabilities to thrive in these increasingly disrupted and dynamic times.

Seeing is believing

We explore this topic in depth and showcase AbilityMap’s Next-gen assessment technology with our on demand webinar. Click here to watch.

Seeing is believing

See how AbilityMap’s technology can provide detailed insights into your people and organisational dynamics.

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