“This study shows that what is near and dear to the hearts of today’s technology worker is not only compensation although that is always important but opportunities the employer provides for the worker to keep up with ever-changing advancements in technology that will help that employee become better skilled and more marketable,” says Dan Aerni, branch manager of Robert Half Technology in Cleveland.
Smart Business spoke with Aerni about the strategies today’s businesses can use to keep their technology workers happy and prevent turnover.
Why is it important that businesses today focus on retaining their top IT talent?
As the job opportunities for IT professionals increase and the IT worker shortage continues, it puts technology workers at a distinct advantage to pick and choose jobs not only based on compensation, but on other things that they deem valuable. It is important that companies don’t only focus on compensation to attract and retain these workers because IT professionals can walk away to a job with similar compensation but better perks.
Our study showed that the No. 1 issue IT workers deemed valuable was education and staying current in their field. Many technology employees are looking for companies that provide this professional development. When you think about it, it is definitely a win-win for both the employee and the employer because the workers keeps skills up to date and become more marketable while their companies get value from all that learning.
Is training employees so that they can become more marketable counterintuitive?
Yes, but employers need to realize that these IT workers will look to find ways to become more marketable whether their companies provide training or not. The employer might as well be the one doing it and reaping the benefits of that training and at the same time gaining the trust and loyalty of the worker.
Other than training, what are some of the other perks companies can provide to persuade their valued IT staff to stay?
There are multiple pieces to creating an effective retention strategy. While the ability to continue professional development is a big piece, there are also other issues that are important to IT talent, according to our study.
The second-most-important piece named was flexibility or work/life balance. This type of flexibility includes allowing workers to come in later and work later, working an extended day to have a four-day work week, or offering telecommuting options. This strategy is a cost-effective way to improve an employee’s job satisfaction, show appreciation and help build employee loyalty.
Compensation will always be important, and increasing base compensation ranked No. 3 in our study in importance. Simply because this factored lower in our study, it is by no means unimportant. You want to pay a competitive salary and offer other monetary perks like bonuses and equity incentives, but you need to realize that is not all you have to offer to keep IT talent from looking elsewhere.
What are some other things companies can do to create and maintain a loyal IT work force?
Business owners need to be keenly aware of the burnout factor with technology personnel and work to address that pro-actively by encouraging realistic workloads and providing an environment that allows the worker to ask for help if he or she feels overloaded. Make sure morale is good overall and there is good rapport within the organization and the teams. Employees who have friends at work and have positive interactions with their co-workers and supervisors are generally more satisfied. Having this positive corporate culture is another way companies can keep good people after all, it is hard to leave when you have a pleasant work environment and good relationships with the people you work with.
DAN AERNI is a branch manager with Robert Half Technology in Cleveland. With more than 100 locations in North America and Europe, Robert Half Technology www.rht.com is a leading provider of technology professionals for initiatives ranging from Web development and multiplatform systems integration to network security and technical support. Reach Aerni at (216) 621-6633 or firstname.lastname@example.org.