Rethinking HR practices to attract and retain IT talent

The demand for tech talent is high and businesses looking to hire the best employees need to offer more than standard salary and benefits packages, as job seekers are looking for attractive employer brands.

Jochen Schoenmaeckers, Director IT & Consulting Industry, Randstad Global Client Solutions, points out: “There are four areas within the IT sector that are in particular demand: cloud, security, big data and mobile technologies. Talent shortages in these areas have created a highly competitive market.”

According to the 2016 Randstad Award survey, 58 per cent of respondents cited IT as their preferred sector to work in and the industry ranked top for attractiveness in every measurement, from financial health and training to interesting job content and pleasant working atmosphere.

While salary and employee benefits are still the number one attractor for candidates, companies wanting to employ the best people, need to work on building an attractive employer brand based on a credible employee value proposition (EVP).

Through talent acquisition and retention, the purpose of creating and attractive employer brand built on a sustainable EVP is to stimulate growth, achieve strategic goals and set the business up for future success. For this reason, the role of HR in IT businesses has never been more crucial.

Create an EVP that connects to your talent audience

Despite the attractiveness of IT as a sector, name awareness among respondents was lower than that of retail and FMCG. Lower name awareness across the sector creates challenges, especially for smaller and start-up firms. In a competitive sector such as IT, HR teams therefore need to start recruitment initiatives by understanding their audience.

The first step for organisations to attract the needed talent is to improve their EVP and allow their HR teams to “market” the proposition strategically and consistently through recruitment processes, training, online communities, communications and social channels and advertising. To build a lasting, desirable employer brand the critical step is to live up to the promises of the EVP.

Bid on culture

IT candidates are keen to understand what it would be like to work for a particular company. Culture is important to them and the polished recruitment websites and videos are often not considered ‘authentic’. Millennials in particular are looking for a pleasant working atmosphere and are interested in jobs that offer potential for development. Niche businesses and start-ups are especially attractive to them as candidates feel they can progress to doing interesting work more quickly than in larger organisations.

Jochen Schoenmaeckers, explains: “It is likely that larger companies will change their employer brand to reflect these changing attitudes but, for the moment, smaller companies are able to target their chosen talent by exploiting what makes them different.”

Allow for flexibility

The combination of emerging economies, with highly educated and enthusiastic workers, and the policies being pursued by some governments to retain talent means that the IT sector is increasingly outsourcing projects to the locations where the talent can be found.

While this has long been the case in customer support, the principle is now being extended to technical innovation. The fact that some big-name firms retreated from remote working to office-based roles with the aim of fostering innovation and inspiration presents an opportunity for smaller and less well-known companies to build their employer brands on flexibility and attract exceptional talent.

Move fast and agile

Both candidates and team managers in the IT sector agree that the recruitment processes often take up too much time. The resources it takes to assemble a team lead to a competitive disadvantage compared to firms that can move faster. This places pressure on HR teams to establish solutions such as the development of technology tools that alert both recruiters and managers to delays caused by human inaction.

Large and small employers alike both face challenges when it comes to attracting and retaining talent in the IT sector. The aim of Randstad’s annual survey is to enable HR managers to understand what employees want from companies, so they can adapt their messaging and ensure they attract the right candidates.

An EVP project provides businesses with the opportunity to align HR strategy with business objectives. The unique qualities of the organisation are translated in a living, and lived, brand.

This is not a one-off project, it’s a process, HR teams need to measure performance and adjust their activities and communications to continuously improve and ensure that business goals are met and that the employer brand resonates and works successfully in a complex world of fierce competition.

Jochen Schoenmaeckers, Director IT & Consulting Industry, Randstad Global Client Solutions

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