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IT Staffing - Who are the Employees You Can't Do Without?

By Dave Willmer

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As the economy gains momentum, employees will have greater job opportunities, increasing the risk of turnover. These factors make retention a growing concern for technology leaders. In fact, 43 percent of CIOs surveyed by our company said that keeping existing workers will be their No.1 staffing priority in 2010.

When you think of retaining employees, no doubt the first people to come to mind are your top performers. These are the individuals who exceed expectations, work hard and make quantifiable contributions to your team’s success. Yet, there are other less obvious types of staff members who you might also want to concentrate on keeping:

The Motivator — This is the employee who builds enthusiasm for new ideas or projects, even when there are clear challenges. Need to upgrade a server on a tight time line? The Motivator is the first to raise a hand for the task, and then inspires others to get involved. Take note of any Motivators on your team, because their leadership potential can be an asset as your company starts expanding again.

The Renaissance Man — This Jack- or Jill-of-all-trades possesses a diverse skill set and is able to apply his or her knowledge to a variety of projects. When business needs change, this employee willingly assumes new duties, allowing your firm to keep up with shifting IT demands. The Renaissance Man or Woman can be beneficial should you find you aren’t able to add staff as quickly as you need to. This person can fill in for other people on the team or take on multiple roles until you develop a longer-term staffing solution.

The Promising Entry-Level Hire — Don’t underestimate the value of your most junior employee. Pay attention to signs of potential, including a commitment to learning, a “can-do” attitude, and praise from coworkers and managers in the organization. In a few short years, the Promising Entry-Level Hire could become a top performer, and you might not be able to afford to hire someone with equivalent expertise in the open job market. By striving to retain this employee early on, you can build loyalty and a strong advocate for your company. Research by our firm found that Generation Y workers (those just beginning their careers) value employers who offer professional advancement, frequent communication from management and learning opportunities.

The Networker — This individual has taken time to build solid working relationships with people throughout the company. This can prove beneficial when your team needs to collaborate with other departments. The employee’s connections may help to accelerate reviews or approvals and promote effective teamwork. Someone who actively networks outside the company or builds a reputation as a subject matter expert may help your firm develop new customer relationships or uncover business opportunities.

The Volunteer — When a colleague needs assistance, or a new project comes along, this person is the first to step up and offer to help. Even when this individual’s own plate is full, he or she is willing to lend a helping hand to move a project along that will benefit the department or company. This employee not only volunteers, but follows through and gets the work done right.

As you begin to target your retention efforts, take the time to talk to your most valued employees about what you can do to enhance their job satisfaction. People are motivated by different factors, so while one person might prefer greater professional challenge, another might seek a more flexible schedule, for instance.

Re-recruit your best employees by reminding them of the benefits of working for your company. For example, reiterating your firm’s long history of success and financial stability in its industry can be a strong selling point. You might also discuss positive aspects of the corporate culture or benefits program.

Investing in retention can pay off in terms of less time spent on hiring and training. Just be sure that you are targeting the right people with your efforts, including those whose strengths may not be solely in technology expertise. You’ll help ensure your best people are eager to stay on board with your company for the long term.

Dave Willmer is executive director of Robert Half Technology, a leading provider of IT professionals for initiatives ranging from e-business development and multi-platform systems integration to network security and technical support. The company has more than 100 locations worldwide.