The United States is experiencing something that comes around every decade or so — a tight labor market. Since the end of the Great Recession, the number of job openings in the U.S. has hit a record high while the number of Americans available to fill those positions has plummeted. The Department of Labor says that for every job opening, there’s barely more than one unemployed person available to fill it.
And in a competitive and demanding field like IT, finding and retaining qualified people is going to be especially hard. The question is: How does your company find, attract, hire and retain top IT talent in this market? Here are a few strategies that we’ve seen work for customers and partners in our IT industry.
1. Money Isn’t Everything
The most obvious way to attract and keep top talent is, of course, money, right? Not necessarily so. Contrary to conventional wisdom, job satisfaction isn't just about compensation. Increasingly, job seekers are looking for a career that offers a sense of purpose, opportunity for growth and a feeling of community.
It turns out that many people, especially educated and inquisitive IT workers, thrive when given a sense of purpose. “The question is, how do we create our own meaning, pride, motivation, and how do we do it in our workplace and for our employees,” said economist Dan Ariely in a recent TED Talk. “That is what it takes to get people to be both more productive and happier.”
2. Challenge Your People
Some employers are afraid to challenge their people, but employees appreciate candor when paired with mutual respectful. When interviewing prospective employees, don’t sugarcoat or gloss over the professional and personal qualities, qualifications and expectations required for the job. Instead, highlight your culture, incentives and growth opportunities, as well as strategies for career development. Smart, talented engineers like a challenge, and if you present them with challenges and opportunities, they’ll be more likely to rise to the occasion.
3. Help Them Recharge
In today’s hyper-connected world, it’s hard for people to disconnect from work and recharge. It’s great to be able to get work done when inspiration hits and to catch up on emails when away from work. But what if that same accessibility makes your people feel trapped or like their job is always hanging over their heads? Encourage people to leave the job behind when they go home for the day. When necessary, designate an on-call person to handle emergencies. Some workers will benefit from working remotely and other positions may include telecommuting options.
4. Partner with Universities
Successful companies begin to engage with talent long before they seek employment by visiting college campuses, offering internships or sponsoring students to go to meetings or industry events.
By 2030, it’s estimated that Millennials will make up 75% of the workforce, so it’s also important to accommodate young workers. Research shows that Millennials are drawn to collaboration, so companies are finding team members who can serve as coaches and mentors and build a coaching culture.
Of course, while Millennials are the future of your workforce, don’t overlook older talent. Some tech companies ignore the value and experience that seasoned IT professionals bring to the table and instead focus on buzzwords and trends listed on a young candidate’s resume. Look for people who have successfully led projects in other industries and may be able to bring those valuable experiences into your workplace.
5. It’s All About the Benefits
Today, top talent expects quality benefits and a high quality of life. Are you offering generous paid parental leave, meals, fitness and child care? Does you company have attractive healthcare and retirement plans? Do your employees feel encouraged, valued and invited to be their authentic selves in your workplace? For that to happen, they need to feel supported, appreciated and taken care of.
6. Don’t Expect Them to Stay Forever
If you employ IT staff, you should know that someone is trying to poach your talent this very moment. In our tech-driven economy, there are armies of recruiters desperately trying to hire your engineers, technicians and IT managers to fill open positions at any given moment.
Too many employers are reluctant to invest in education and training when they know their staff may leave and take that knowledge somewhere else. But smart employers try to get the best out of their people while they have them, knowing that smart, new talent will be attracted by the training and opportunities afforded.
Of course, one important strategy for keeping IT staff engaged and fulfilled is simply to take boring grunt work off their plate. If you need help keeping your IT staff happy, consider the Gordon Flesch Company’s Managed IT services. Contact us for a no-cost consultation to find out how we help relieve the pressure points for your IT staff and let them focus on the work they enjoy. Tight labor markets come and go, but creating a successful corporate culture takes continuous effort and care.