How to Retain Expert IT Talent

Senior IT leaders identified the biggest tech talent gaps in big data, analytics, and information management, according to a 2016 Gartner survey. Moreover, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that turnover of IT staff has risen industry wide every year since 2012. There are simply more jobs than qualified people, and companies are at war with one another to find and retain team members.

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There are now more than 53 million millennials in the workforce and the general trend for millennials has been to hop from job to job as opportunities with better pay and new challenges arise. There’s some indication that may be starting to shift. Deloitte’s 2017 global survey of 8,000 millennials found that “young professionals now indicate they’re less likely to leave the security of their jobs, more concerned about uncertainty arising from conflict, and—especially in developed countries—not optimistic about their future prospects nor the directions their countries are going.”

While this suggests there may be less mobility amongst younger employees in the near future, that only holds true if companies are responsive to their needs. It’s crucial that employers adapt to the needs of a younger workforce in order to attract and retain talent, particularly their highly in-demand IT talent.  


Here are five things companies can do to retain their IT talent.

  1. Create a culture of learningFor their entire lives, millennials have had the ability to learn anything they want anytime they want it. They are accustomed to having a world of knowledge at their fingertips. Create a workplace culture that encourages and provides the resources to learn new skills. Young professionals want to have ownership over their own professional development, and they expect their employer to support it.

  2. Foster internal mobility. Employees, particularly millennials, want open communication and clarity about their role. In an ever changing field, knowing the trajectory of one’s career path is crucial to making decisions about the future. Instead of the traditional annual review process, consider shifting to more frequent one-on-one conversations where you can each share feedback and discuss career progression. Giving your employee the opportunity to change roles within your company can grant them the challenges and learning experiences that come with a new job, without moving to a different company.

  3. Enhance their sense of purpose. The Deloitte millennial survey found that 6 out of 10 millennials said having a sense of purpose was key to their choice of employer. They believe that their greatest ability to make an impact on societal issues is through their workplace. They therefore look for businesses that not only communicate their values, but live them. Help your employees feel they are part of something larger, not just cogs in the wheel, and they’re more likely to stay with you.

  4. Increase engagement. Traditionally, business leaders turn to IT staff to solve tech problems. You might not think to call your IT support person for advice on communicating with a client or help solving a marketing challenge. But increasingly, IT staff come from a greater diversity of disciplines and many can actually help you solve those challenges. It’s important to know what skills your team has and actively tap into them. Young professionals want to feel like they have a say in the future of the business and that they’re helping you innovate.

  5. Offer a flexible work environment. Work/life balance is just as important to IT talent as to any other young professional. While tech support may be a 24 hour business, asking your team to work long hours and holidays is the fastest way to lose them. Millennials are especially interested in careers where their personal time is valued. They look for companies that value the fact that they have lives outside of work. Offer benefits they can actually use -- flexible schedules, work from home options, and generous time off package -- in addition to the traditional health care, retirement and salary package expectations.

As Dan Roberts, CEO of Ouellette & Associates Consulting told Tech Republic recently:

"The talent war is very real, and is going to get even more crazy in the next few years. Those people who are more proactive with talent initiatives and doing something different are going to win, because those with the better talent are going to win this disruptive game we're in."

IT talent, particularly young IT talent are tech savvy before they even enter the field. Once there, they learn fast, adapt to new technologies, and are always seeking the next innovative thing. And recruiters know it. If you want to increase retention on your team, listen to what they want and be open to their ideas. With such a highly skilled workforce, and no shortage of tech jobs, the company that’s most transparent, supportive, and open to new ideas will be the first to get ahead.