As pandemic worries slow, companies want to launch technology initiatives they have been putting off for the last two years. However, this effort coincides with another current phenomenon, the Great Resignation. U.S. workers are quitting their jobs in record numbers and that includes tech professionals. This trend makes pursuing new projects much harder.
The tech talent shortage is not new. The need for IT specialists has been greater than their availability in years past. After all, just about every business has a need for tech support at some level. But the greater need for rushed IT tasks like setting up remote work environments during the pandemic, as well as things like the number of retiring workers and technology evolving faster than IT talent knowledge, have accelerated this situation.
For organizations that need IT assistance and are having trouble finding it, the key to maintaining support for their technology efforts is creativity. In the following sections, we explain specifically how creativity can be used to upgrade retention efforts, upskill employees, hire freelancers, expand the search, improve the hiring approach, and pay more.
Upgrading Retention Efforts
While you may be challenged with finding new IT employees, don’t make the situation worse by losing the ones you already have. Instead, take steps to retain current talent. Here are some ideas to get started:
- Make leadership a priority. Many employees leave managers, not companies, so it pays to ensure your managers are doing everything right. Evaluate each manager and provide resources for those who could use additional training.
- Recognize good work. It may seem so obvious that it doesn’t need to be stated, but many employees simply want their work to be acknowledged. Bake regular feedback into employee relations, and not just during annual reviews.
- Provide a career path. Many employees aren’t just looking for a job, they’re seeking a career. The more you can do to help them advance, the more loyal they will be.
- Be a good listener. The following video explains how.
If you’re looking for new tech support, the answer might be as close as your current employees. Some IT professionals may have foundational knowledge and want to learn more to become better assets to your organization. Because they already know the inner workings of your company’s IT environment, they’re in the perfect position to take their learning to the next level.
Even those outside the IT team should be considered. For example, you may have a budding software engineer in your midst in another department, like admin, marketing, R&D, or HR. You don’t know what workers’ aspirations are until you ask them, so it’s worth sending out a company-wide message promoting an internal training program.
Gaining the skills of IT professionals doesn’t necessarily mean hiring them. The vast gig economy can work to your advantage if you’re willing to change the way you think about what teams look like. According to Forbes, some companies are even “looking far from home for tech talent, turning to the global freelance economy or looking for fulltime workers abroad.”
Expanding the Search
The rise of remote work capabilities has enabled businesses to widen the search parameters for new talent. No longer are they confined to hiring people within driving distance. A productive workforce can be composed entirely of people across the globe who have never met in person.
So, geography is one consideration, but there are many others. For example, many IT professionals are self-taught and have become proficient in their field long before obtaining any degrees or certifications. Therefore, it’s at least worth considering whether degrees for your IT team members are truly a must-have or really just a nice-to-have.
Other candidates to consider include those with long absences from the workforce — such as parents who take time off to raise children — those from schools you may not have recruited from in the past, and neurodiverse workers.
Improving the Hiring Approach
No company’s hiring process is perfect and improving yours can help you acquire some of the tech talent you need. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Reduce hiring time. A drawn-out hiring process with multiple interviews puts you at risk of losing quality candidates who may get snapped up by another company with a shorter process. Find ways to cut down on the time it takes to evaluate potential hires.
- Take advantage of technology. Ironically, hiring IT professionals doesn’t always make the best use of technology. Remote recruiting and testing, AI-powered recruitment tools, and tech-enabled interviewing processes should all be considered.
- Use the “screen in” method. Rather than looking to screen out candidates, switch to a “screen in” approach in which you assume the candidate has something to offer your company, whether or not it’s exactly what you had in mind when you started the hiring process.
In some cases, the above strategies may be all you need, but when it comes down to it, market forces are at play. When faced with a choice of otherwise comparable employers, tech professionals will choose the one that offers the best compensation package. Your offering should be based on factors like how much value each new IT team member will bring to your company, and the potential losses you’re likely to face without them.
Remember, it’s not just about money. IT professionals, like just about every other type of worker, need good healthcare insurance, the option for remote work, plenty of vacation time, and other perks.
Act Now to Strengthen Company Health
Some of these recommendations take time, so it’s best to get started right away to ensure your efforts pay off. While the cost of instituting new hiring, training, and retention programs may seem high, consider that the cost of not doing so could be even higher. The decreasing quality of your company’s products or services, ensuing loss of revenue, and the challenges that come with an overworked staff are all risks you take if you delay on this critical issue.