How to Nurture IT Talent and Protect Your Stars



With the market for tech talent still tight, despite some slowing in hiring from major corporations and smaller start-ups, organizations looking to build out their roster of IT pros should look within.

By nurturing homegrown talent and protecting IT staff from burnout and helping to ease with work/life balance and managing external stress factors, companies can better plan for a future where the tech talent supply remains constricted.

Moreover, they can demonstrate clearly to these employees the extent to which they are valued and contribute to a deeper feeling of teamwork and overall improved experience for everyone in the organization.

Twin surveys from McKinsey indicate that not only do 87% of companies feel inadequately prepared to address the skill gap, but the majority (61%) of HR professionals said they think hiring developers will be their biggest challenge in the years ahead.

“We see that companies are merging to survive, and we see that global players are opening new offices due to an increase in the demand for talent,” says Volodymyr Semenyshyn, SoftServe president of EMEA. “What should IT companies do?”

He says if one stays within the framework of the existing business model, then organizations need to intensify work on talent development, look for new sources of obtaining and new forms of development of these talents, strengthen cooperation with universities and, perhaps, go to the level of schools.

“Also, of course, it is worth working on creating new models in which there is no direct connection between the number of employees and the volume of business — new product and service models,” he adds.

Semenyshyn says organizations should also prioritize the continuous improvement of its specialists.

By offering internal training, master classes, and other educational sources online, employees will likely feel better supported by their workplace, resulting in greater possibilities to grow within the company.

“We are continuously developing our current employees,” he explains. “New areas and technologies are constantly emerging in the IT field, and specialists must follow them and improve their qualifications.”

He points out that employees in the company move along a career path both horizontally and vertically, which requires constant training and professional development.

Providing Opportunities for Training and Growth

Megan Slabinski, a district president for management consulting firm Robert Half, notes that companies should be upfront when recruiting new talent about their dedication to investment in training and access to projects.

“That’s a big part of what we hear from technology professionals — they want to be put on different teams or different project opportunities outside of their own organization to gain that experience,” she says. “It’s a resume builder and it creates job security.”

She says if employees are thinking about how this opportunity is going to benefit them, employers need to be in a position to articulate that and create a pathway for training investment development.

“Small businesses can take advantage of that and make it clear that those employees are valued and are prepared to explain what they will offer them in terms of helping them move in the direction they want to go,” Slabinski says.

Adapting to the WFH Trend

Adrianne Court, chief human resources officer at Tealium, says by embracing remote-first working, company team members have an opportunity to choose where they do their best work, and new hire and ongoing stipends are offered to assist with purchasing items to support a successful remote-working environment.

“We believe this approach has created a competitive advantage to retaining talent, but doing this alone is not enough,” she says. “Our fierce focus and intentional commitment to our culture as a collective, working across nearly 20 countries stretching throughout the globe, is key to retaining our tech talent.”

She explained one core element of the company’s culture is the commitment to learning incessantly through many learning opportunities including through Tealium’s own LIFT University, Manager Boost Training and Elevate Leadership Development programs.

Mike Anderson, Tealium’s founder and CTO, says the employee experience and investment in nurturing the IT teams’ careers are critical.

“For us, this includes the investment in learning opportunities, having a voice with a seat at the table with the VP of IT reporting directly to me, and offering great career development,” he says.

He adds that while there may certainly be times to augment IT project work with outside professionals with a specific expertise, investing in a strong IT team is a critical element of success for the company.

“We know by engaging our IT team in our culture of innovating continuously, and connecting collectively, this results in trusted outcomes internally and for our customers,” he says.

CTO Must Identify Training, Learning Goals

Anderson adds building out growth and learning opportunities starts with the CTO.

“That means ensuring we have learning and training goals identified, which is used as a critical element for annual performance expectations of our IT leaders and managers, not only for themselves, but for their staff,” he says.

As Court notes, the company invests internally through the LIFT University with a cadre of continuing education and augmenting with external training.

“For career growth, I recommend IT teams have a close reporting or partnership to the engineering and product teams,” Anderson adds.

He says the rationale for this is simple — as employees want to perfect their craft, they need to work for and with people that understand their craft, and push them to continually learn through team, project, and program collaboration.

“As we all know, the one constant is that technology is constantly evolving, so continuous learning for employees, especially our IT team, is a must,” he says.

SoftServe’s Semenyshyn says that closely monitoring employee burnout is a priority across the IT industry, pointing out the advantage of the IT business in a large global company is the possibility of rotations.

“It means that you continuously get new tasks, new clients, new culture to get familiar with, and a new team every time,” he says. “Today you work with the USA, tomorrow with Germany, and the day after tomorrow, somewhere in Asia. Sometimes you get a new manager. This could be challenging, but it’s exciting while remaining within the same company.”

What to Read Next:

The Tech Talent Chasm

How to Retain Talent in Uncertain Circumstances

InformationWeek Salary Survey: What IT Pros Earn

IT Pros Aren’t Missing the Office



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