6 Ways to Win the IT Talent War and Retain Top Performers

    The IT talent shortage has been an ongoing problem for years in the business world and organizations are feeling the crunch. According to “IT Talent Wars and the Gig Economy,” a new report from Appirio and Wakefield Research, 25 percent of IT projects are abandoned due to a shortage of qualified workers, and even those that are seen through to completion are delayed by an average of five months.

    Recruiting, hiring and retaining skilled IT talent is a major business concern, with more than 33 percent of HR spending allocated toward hiring and retaining IT talent, according to the report.

    Investing in employee engagement is one of the primary ways organizations can retain top IT talent. Research from The Hay Group shows engaged employees who are equipped with the tools necessary for success are 50 percent more likely to outperform expectations and 54 percent less likely to walk out the door.

    In this slideshow, Mazin Abou-Seido, director of information technology at Halogen Software, has identified six tips for how you can engage your top IT talent and set them up for success in your organization.

    6 Ways to Win the IT Talent War and Retain Top Performers - slide 1

    Set Your Top IT Talent Up for Success

    Click through for six tips organizations can use to engage their top IT talent and set them up for success, as identified by Mazin Abou-Seido, director of information technology at Halogen Software.

    6 Ways to Win the IT Talent War and Retain Top Performers - slide 2

    Learning and Dev Opportunities

    Provide ongoing learning and development opportunities.

    The very nature of IT is a continuous cycle of change, with new and different skills constantly needed to keep up with changing technology. The best employees embrace this, looking for ways to grow their knowledge and skill set to continually drive your organization forward. Organizations need to match this drive, working with employees to establish clear career paths and establishing development plans and learning opportunities to support the plan. Including top performers in strategic planning initiatives and programs aimed at improving organizational competitiveness is a great way to let employees know that their input is valued. When employees see the value they add to an organization and have clearly identified opportunities for growth and advancement, they are much more likely to stay and become future leaders within the organization.

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    Set Smart Goals

    Be smart about goal-setting.

    Many IT projects are tremendous in scale and the end can seem far off. Set both short-term and long-term goals to help employees achieve and maintain productivity. Breaking IT projects down into smaller milestones allows your employees to feel a sense of accomplishment while keeping the larger picture in mind. Setting meaningful goals also feeds into learning and development as goals can be tailored toward developing the skills necessary to help move the business forward.

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    Constructive Feedback

    Provide meaningful, ongoing feedback.

    High-performing IT professionals’ greatest strength is also the reason they’re so in demand – their talent! To keep IT employees motivated to high performance, provide direction and a larger context for their work. Relying on a once-a-year performance review to discuss goals and performance won’t cut it. Managers and employees should establish an open, continuous dialogue about performance, which includes meaningful feedback on how the employee is progressing and what might be next for them. These conversations should be collaborative and ongoing to help your IT talent to understand the impact of their work on the organization’s greater success.

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    Recognize High Performers

    High performers often go above and beyond, even when their actions aren’t linked to a monetary reward or promotion. Establishing a clear link between individual results and rewards is the most effective way to reward and recognize high performers. Look for ways to reward employees for outstanding results they deliver that fit within your organization’s total rewards program. Non-financial means of recognition can also be very powerful ways to show top performers they are valued. This recognition can range from a simple thank you email, to public recognition, to a monthly rewards program. This type of recognition is valuable since it provides top performers with context for why they are being recognized and provides a realistic mechanism for continuous recognition.

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    Respect Work-Life Balance

    Organizations are feeling the crunch after years of IT talent shortages. When multiple pressing projects are continuously delayed – or worse, abandoned altogether – it can be tempting for organizations to go into survival mode, demanding more and more from their employees. But the answer to the talent crunch is not to have your employees working 12-hour long days and running them into the ground. Fatigued and stressed out employees can’t perform at their best. Avoid burnout by giving employees time to unplug and reenergize so they can reach their top performance and productivity levels. Respecting work-life balance is another great way to show employees they are valued.

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    Provide Opportunities to Innovate

    Another great way to avoid employee burnout is to give your talented team opportunities to innovate. While there will always be a mountain of important projects to work on, consider giving employees a certain number of hours per month to work on… whatever they want. It could be a business challenge, a small tweak to a process that’s been bugging them but no one has had time to address. It could be something totally new and out of the box your employee suggests. Consider creating a “spark” board where ideas and solutions can be published and tracked, picked up by anyone who has inspiration to take up a challenge. Who knows? Maybe their innovations will help create efficiencies in routine processes and save your organization time and money.

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