Employee Retention Becoming Hot Topic

Jul 29, 2004

Allen Bernard

Although it can be hard to notice sometimes, the economy is getting better. And, as more IT jobs become available (which they are), holding on to key staff is once again becoming a key issue in every CIO's life.

And, according to Robert Half Technology's most recent survey, more than half (58%) are taking the issue seriously enough to put it on their priorities' lists. That's because keeping employees on board needs to start before the economy takes off, said Melissa Maffattone, who runs Robert Half's consulting business in southern Florida.

The national poll included responses from more than 1,400 CIOs from a stratified random sample of U.S. companies with 100 or more employees. It was conducted by an independent research firm and developed by Robert Half.

For CIOs interested in maintaining the quality of their current workforce, the time to start working toward retention is now, she said. CIOs need to start looking at things they haven't had to pay as much attention to over past couple of years; thing like compensation.

Also, if it becomes an employee's market like it was in the dot-com days, CIOs will have get creative again. Right now, most in IT are just happy to have jobs, but modified compensation packages may be on the way again. These may include old standards like stock options and more flexible working schedules, but kudos and other non-tangible benefits such as career-path training programs are also very good ways to keep an employee from jumping ship for just a few dollars more a month, she said.

"When you look at the entire compensation element, companies need to be re-evaluating their salaries frequently because we're seeing change and certainly month-to-month it can change," said Maffettone. "Companies need to go back to looking at direct compensation but going beyond it."

Of course the job rebound is slow and, depending on what part of the country you are in or in what industry, employment trends may be better or worse. But, overall, things are heating up.

"We're very far from the employee driven market that we saw in the dot-com and the late 90s," she said. "There's still a lot IT professionals unemployed but [w]e're seeing a lot of highly skilled candidates that are really weighting multiple job opportunities at any given time."

Other ways to keep your employees on board include:

Making it Personal: Customize training and career planning to each employee's strengths and interests. Does he or she desire a management track or more hands-on work developing applications?

Sending in Reinforcements: Many IT professionals have had to do more with less as a result of leaner workforces and budgets. Bringing in additional support and helping staff prioritize projects during busy times can circumvent stress and burnout.

Empowering Employees: Demonstrate trust in your employees by allowing them to implement their ideas and make strategic decisions.

Offering Praise: Acknowledge your team's contributions. Simple actions such as recognition during a staff meeting or writing a thank-you note can go a long way toward improving morale.

Money: A competitive compensation and benefits package sends the message to employees that you place a fair value on their work.


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