How to Attract and Retain Quality IT Help
For the IT and tech industry, COVID-19 could be a silver lining to the work-from-anywhere trend it has started. According to the Forrester report, Adopt an Anywhere-Work Strategy to Compete in the Future Tech Labor Market, two-thirds of U.S. companies are now adopting remote work strategies to fill talent shortages in their local markets.
Due to the lack of in-demand skills like cybersecurity and cloud, the unusually high turnover rate of tech employees, and the ability to do many tech jobs remotely, IT is uniquely positioned to capitalize on this trend to find the help that is so badly needed.
“Companies are realizing that mobility has always been there; we just didn’t allow anyone to use them,” said Christopher Gilchrist, co-author of the report and a Forrester analyst. “[With] a good calculator [and] an internet connection, I’ll work where I can instead of where I have to.”
Corresponding Pew Research, more people (61%) are working from home because they want to, not because of COVID-19 or the fact that their workplace is still closed. Gilchrist suggests that companies need to embrace this reality.
“The pandemic has forced us to stop making excuses,” he said. “We don’t have enough people—and the people we need are all after them for the same reasons. But there aren’t enough of them to go around.”
Citing the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) jobs report from May, Forrester said there are two jobs available for everyone in the market. In other words, it’s a buyer’s market. Unlike before, companies can no longer dictate when, where and how their new employees do their work. And while less qualified workers are also in short supply, they say Deloitte Insights The demand for highly qualified workers is growing—even though seven out of ten employers worldwide struggle to find workers who have “the right mix of technical skills and human skills.”
“Bottom line: Companies that refuse to recognize this shift of power to the worker will assume more of the risk and reap little of the reward,” says the Forrester report.
EX more important than ever
Employees today are looking for more than just a paycheck, Gilchrist said. They want work experiences that are fulfilling and lead to an improved sense of self and accomplishment. They also want to feel that their work makes a difference and that they are valued. Forrester research shows that employee experience (EX) can be the single most important factor in an organization’s ability to attract the talent it needs.
in one Harvard Business Review Article, tech executives Brad Anderson and Seth Patton appeared to reach the same conclusion, citing statistics from the U.S. Department of Labor showing a record number of workers quit in November 2021.
“[Workers] are now unhurriedly looking for the right job at the right company,” wrote Anderson and Patton.”
Traditional markets are slowing down
Traditional tech hubs San Francisco, New York and Boston are all seeing population declines due to quality of life issues and high living costs, according to the report. People are moving to places where their dollar has more buying power and the quality of life is better. Texas, North Carolina and Florida are all targets now, the report said.
“The idea of … focusing on very few calculated areas to siphon off talent just isn’t going to work for the majority of companies,” Gilchrist said.
Instead, Gilchrist recommends employers focus on building ecosystems and networks that attract employees regardless of location, much like the big tech companies did in the 1990s and early 2000s.
One of the ways to build such an ecosystem is to host events like hackathons in partnership with a university, local business incubation communities, incubators, community development organizations and the like to build a presence in an area you are targeting for recruitment.
“It just opens the floodgates of how talent comes to you and how you can expose yourself to talent,” Gilchrist said. “For companies that don’t have the deep pockets of the big tech firms, this is a good thing. You can find highly skilled talent in locations that are more affordable compared to the traditional tech hubs on the East and West Coasts of Everyday Life.”
Workers in these smaller markets typically don’t demand the same salary premiums as these higher-cost-of-living markets, although their talents are still in high demand.
The ability to form innovative relationships with prospective hires also creates an enduring advantage over companies that continue to conduct point-in-time transactional exchanges through traditional channels such as recruiters, staff augmentation firms, job boards, and human resource departments. According to the Forrester report, tThe ecosystem strategy creates regional brand awareness that can lead potential employees to seek out the company as their employer of choice.
“Therefore, focus on employee development and engagement initiatives that can help set the company apart from the competition by creating more opportunities for talent to embrace opportunity as differentiation,” the report advised.
Use technology as an equalizer
Many companies today are exploring a wide range of technologies to help their remote workforce stay connected and productive, Gilchrist said. The good news is that younger workers are perfectly happy communicating digitally. Even when employees are sitting right next to each other, they might prefer to talk to each other on apps like Slack.
But using the right mix of technologies to keep your people productive should go beyond collaboration suites, video conferencing apps, whiteboards, and online project management tools.
The technologies Gilchrist recommends are not a substitute for what a human can do, but complement and add to each other. For example, automation shouldn’t just be about removing redundancies, but empowering the organization to do more with the same number of people.
Technologies like employee self-service for HR, robotic process automation (RPA), AI-powered chatbots, low-code software development platforms, and training technologies that provide real-time guidance when new employees can navigate new applications for the first time all make Remote EX easier to navigate and more rewarding.
“When you think about technology, it’s about everything. How do you support the work you have?” Gilchrist said, “instead of just focusing on how [to] Driving bottom-line savings.”