Current digital transformation across all businesses and sectors means growing demand for tech talent. Meanwhile there is an IT skills shortage and tech professionals are aware of their own value. Employers need to get to grips with the shifting expectations of IT professionals in order to secure the best talent, or risk being left behind by competitors who are offering more.
Tech professionals are already voting with their feet. The Hays Technology Quarterly Insights Survey reveals that 60 percent expect to change jobs within the next 12 months and 45 percent intend to do so within 6 months. This is not just idle talk or wishful thinking – 62 percent have already attended one interview with a new employer. This post-lockdown phenomenon, described as The Great Resignation, is affecting other sectors too, but is having a particularly troublesome impact within IT, where skills were already in short supply.
Technology is such a fundamental part of everyday business now, that losing talented people from the team can make the difference between success and failure. Aside from the investment in onboarding new employees, the cost to the business caused by the disruption of a personnel change can be significant. For businesses trying to plug the gaps left by talented people, or seeking to expand the skills base within their team, recruiting can be a real challenge. Even candidates with outstanding technical skills may still be lacking the all-important soft skills that helped their predecessor work effectively with the rest of the organization. Specialist recruitment consultants can bring real value by pinpointing and engaging with candidates that have the right blend of technical and soft skills to fit with an existing team or business.
Understanding exactly makes a valued IT individual decide to set off in search of pastures new, or remain in post, is as critical. Implementing good, regular two-way communication with employees can ensure that leaders fully understand the needs and wants that will drive increased retention as well as making their organization more attractive to talented new recruits.
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What IT professionals want:
- Attractive salary. Any skills shortage is bound to drive an increase in salary expectations, so organizations that can meet this demand are going to be in a better position to attract the best talent.
- Benefits. There are also numerous benefits that can be offered and increasingly, successful businesses are listening to employees to make sure these are relevant and of real value to their people, creating employee-focused packages.
- Career opportunities. Our survey revealed that 22 percent feel there is a lack of career opportunity within their current organization. The best talent is usually looking for career growth and development opportunities that include new challenges, training, and the chance for promotion.
- Remote working. This has always been a possibility for those in tech roles, but since the Covid-19 pandemic it is now a definite expectation. 21 percent of employees in our survey prefer to work this way, using the time saved from commuting and a more flexible working day to create a better work/life balance. Many IT professionals have an appetite to return to the workplace, for some or all of the time, with 60 percent interested in hybrid work patterns.
- More defined hours. One of the downsides of remote working has been the loss of the distinction between home and work life, and our survey reveals 46 percent say they have worked longer hours since the start of the pandemic. This is not sustainable or desirable and is likely to lead to burnout or quitting. Employers can take steps to encourage people to work only within contracted hours, taking regular breaks. Policies such as no meetings or emails between 1-2pm, and specific ‘do not disturb’ times that allow people to focus can support increased productivity alongside greater employee satisfaction.
- Health and wellbeing support. Employee engagement and support has been under the spotlight during the pandemic, and many people have experienced challenges to their mental health and wellbeing. organizations can take steps to support their tech teams, especially those based primarily at home where it may be more difficult to spot the early signs of problems, with regular video check-ins. Managers should be aware of unconscious biases that could lead to assumptions about how someone may be feeling or coping.
- Clarity in advertising. When there are posts to fill, making sure that flexibility and hybrid/remote options, and additional benefits, are highlighted in recruitment advertising and communications, can give an organization the edge in securing the best available people.
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Many businesses are still migrating from legacy systems to the cloud, managing large-scale change programs, and others have increased need for experts in cyber-security and software developers – the opportunities for IT professionals have probably never been better and many may be tempted to move. It is almost always too late to react to a resignation with a counter-offer. Once someone has decided to leave an organization they are already halfway out of the door. Sometimes counter-offers are accepted and will stave off the inevitable for a while, but usually the retention is short-lived.
organizations can get ahead of The Great Resignation trend by understanding what the talent wants and making sure the overall employee experience delivers. Engaging with existing employees should mean they don’t think the grass is greener elsewhere. Instead they become ambassadors for your brand, helping attract more new talent to give your business that all-important competitive edge during this challenging period.
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James Hallahan, Director for UK and Ireland, Hays Technology