How to attract and retain tech talent in a tight market

The labor market is tight in every industry and region. The competition for capable workers is so tough, it’s been called a “dogfight” and even a “war.” This is especially true for tech talent, since most every enterprise run on technology; companies in every industry are competing for the same pool of highly skilled IT pros. All at a time when IT departments have more work than ever: 72% of tech professionals said the shift to remote and hybrid arrangements created additional burdens for their teams.2

On top of that, 40% of McKinsey survey respondents said they’re somewhat likely to quit in the next six months.3 “The Great Resignation,” “The Great Attrition,” “The Great Renegotiation,” whatever you call the mass quitting, it’s not going to let up anytime soon. It’s an IT job-seeker’s market, so if you’re looking to hire tech workers, you may need to widen your net and reboot your workplace culture. In the meantime, consider outsourcing some tech services, like Managed Firewall, Managed Wireless LAN or Integrated Voice.

Look beyond technical skills

If your job descriptions require specific skills, certifications and areas of expertise, you might overlook potential candidates. Do they need every capability on day one? Aside from the critical skills, are any trainable? You may be able to broaden your requirements to include characteristics that suggest an applicant is a fast learner and able to contribute in another capacity, like customer service or sales, while learning and training on the job. Or perhaps there’s someone in the company already who has the aptitude for a more specialized IT role.

Similarly, instead of requiring specific college degrees, credentials and experiences, you can review objective criteria like work samples and skills test results. Doing so might uncover qualified prospects who are still in college, coding “boot camp,” vocational school or self-taught and already working—and might also increase the diversity of your application pool.

Create a tech-inclusive, digital culture

If you’re not in a tech industry, be intentional about creating an inclusive culture for IT workers. Otherwise an IT pro may feel like a fish out of water in a government agency, professional services company or educational institution. And what kind of culture appeals to IT workers? A digital one. In contrast to traditional structures, digital cultures are flat, collaborative and fast. Want to be more resilient, nimble and innovative? Speed up decision-making and attract and retain IT talent? Incorporate the characteristics of digital cultures:

  • Support flexibility. With 76% of IT professionals saying they prefer to work remotely at least some of the time,5 flexible work arrangements are becoming non-negotiable. But that shouldn’t be an issue. If you have reliable fiber internet, or even better, Dedicated Internet Access with Gig speed and a cloud-based collaboration service like Unified Communications or UCaaS, your IT pros don’t need to be in the office five days a week.
  • Trust with freedom. The spirit of a digital culture is one of excited exploration, innovation and continuous iteration—right up IT pros’ alley. Allow your team members to choose their tech stacks, approach to problem-solving and even some of their projects. Provide a budget for experimenting and rotate beta tests around the department so everyone can explore the latest innovations. Give freedom to stretch and contribute in meaningful ways. Foster creativity by normalizing mistakes as part of the learning process.
  • Prioritize growth and fulfillment. Tech employees want to grow, make an impact and fulfill a purpose: 75% of developers said what they need in a job is the chance to learn new skills and technologies.4 So include career path opportunities in your job descriptions. Add funds and time off for training to your compensation offers. It may seem like a perk, but professional development, upskilling and reskilling should be a requirement. As fast as technology evolves, if you stop learning, you fall behind.
  • Give IT a place at the table. Make sure your leadership includes IT in strategic planning. Create regular opportunities for two-way discussion between your C-suite and IT team leaders. And continuously gather input from all tech employees through pulse surveys and town halls, for example. You might even hold tech showcases where your IT team can share information, demonstrate new technologies and gain credibility for their expertise.
  • Provide access to advanced tech. If your IT team is working on dated legacy systems and frustrated by slow connectivity, it’s going to be a challenge to bring on and keep talent. You don’t have to become an early adopter of every emerging technology, but at least ensure reliable bandwidth and performance through Dedicated Internet Access, fiber internet and gig speeds.
  • Reward and recognize. Tech pros are no different than other employees: they enjoy and can be motivated by rewards and recognition. But their long hours and accomplishments often go unnoticed. So shine a light on their behind-the-scenes efforts. Make sure everyone knows they stayed up all night to update systems, test servers or deploy programs. Do this through spot bonuses, public kudos in meetings, and in company-wide emails, newsletters and social media, for example.
  • Disperse power and delegate decisions. Digital cultures are fast-paced and agile, able to make quick decisions to mitigate risks and seize opportunities. But in top-down bureaucracies, decisions can take forever—a sure way to frustrate your IT team. So flatten the hierarchy, make your leaders accessible and embed your culture throughout your company. You’ll be able to delegate decisions and know they’ll be made in a timely, strategic manner.

Rethink and reboot to successfully recruit.

IT pros hold the cards and will hold out for the most compelling package of compensation and benefits, of course. But also and perhaps more important: flexibility, freedom and fulfillment. That might mean retooling your recruitment and retention strategy and rebooting your workplace culture. In the meantime, if your IT team is understaffed and overworked, consider outsourcing tech services like Managed Firewall, Managed Wireless LAN or Integrated Voice.

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