Your Best People
by Katherine Spencer Lee
Contributed by RHIConsulting
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by Katherine Spencer Lee
As demand continues to be strong for skilled
IT professionals, companies are finding it increasingly difficult
to retain valued employees. Even if your workers are not actively
seeking employment elsewhere, they may be the subjects of your competitors'
intensive recruiting efforts. The more highly prized your employee,
the more likely they are to have shown up on a headhunter's radar
Most companies rely primarily on salary and benefits as a first
line of defense to prevent employees from being recruited away.
However, studies of employee attitudes suggest that additional factors
from technical skills training to praise and recognition
may be even more important than compensation in determining
job satisfaction among IT professionals.
It is essential to remember that most employees, for reasons ranging
from security to family to location, would much prefer to stay on
the job rather than seek employment elsewhere. Maximizing their
satisfaction at work will help valued staff remain under your roof.
Focus on Training
Let your people know they matter
Perks: Extras that make a difference
Focus on Training
When CIOs were asked in an independent survey
by RHI Consulting to choose the single factor, other than compensation,
that helped a manager retain IT talent, ongoing technical skills
training ranked first. Skills training gives employees the opportunity
to advance in salary and rank by increasing their capacity to handle
new and different kinds of projects. There is also a sense of accomplishment
attained by expanding one's skill set.
Today's IT professionals must keep their technical knowledge current
to keep up with the rapid pace of technological advancements. You
can help keep their skills up to date either through participation
in pilot projects, new system implementations or through formal
It is essential, however, to link training to business goals. Making
the curriculum applicable to the bottom line is a source of motivation,
and you'll ensure that employees get the chance to reinforce what
they've learned by applying it to real-world situations. And if
you conduct rigorous needs assessments at least once a year, you'll
be able to determine what types of material will make the most impact
on business success.
Consider reimbursing employees for work-related training
you will instill loyalty in your staff while improving and expanding
their skills base. At the same time, you will be making an active
investment in your workers' productivity.
Let your people know they
Often times, well-deserved praise,
given on a consistent basis, can be as valuable as a raise. In many
IT departments, heavy workloads can make employees feel under-appreciated,
overworked and isolated from the corporate mainstream. While salary
increases might boost morale in such a situation, recognition of
your team's hard work is oftentimes just as impactful.
When you observe or find that employees are performing exceptionally
well, reward them: upgrade their functions, give them incentives,
perks and special bonuses. Never lose sight of the fact that it
is tough to find well motivated, hardworking employees.
Another way to reward your staff's accomplishments is through promotions.
Promoting from within isn't always easy, but many departments that
keep their turnover manageable make it a practice to consider advancing
present employees before they seek outsiders for open positions.
Even if the promotion is in name only, it may prove beneficial
titles give a sense of belonging that boosts both self-esteem and
Passing over your own staff to bring in someone new almost invariably
erodes morale. If the opportunity for advancement is not available,
employees will seek to advance their careers elsewhere.
You may temper your praise with constructive criticism, but be sure
that your comments are appropriate surveys show that criticizing
a subordinate in front of others is considered to be the worst breach
of business etiquette. And don't forget the little courtesies. A
"good morning," a "thank you," or an encouraging e-mail message
can go a long way in keeping your best people. Show employees you
care by sending birthday cards, initiating employee social activities
and setting up recognition programs for proven performers.
Including IT staff in meetings where their efforts will or have
impacted key company initiatives is another way to make them feel
like a valued member of the organization.
Extras that make a difference
Small gifts for special occasions (birthdays,
Tickets to sporting events and shows
Adequate staffing, including contract help during
Opportunities for telecommuting
Flexible work schedules
Personal notes for achievements
You can make working at your company
even more desirable by offering employees perks -- extras that aren't
included as part of the standard compensation package. Perks don't
have to be expensive -- here's a list of benefits that cost little
These little bonuses let your employees know that their contributions
are valued and that your company cares about their quality of life.
If your best IT employees are valuable to you, they can be just
as valuable to another firm. An independent workplace study conducted
by our company shows that when an employee is recruited away from
one company to another, 70 percent of the time, management regrets
losing the employee. It's no mystery then why businesses should
take steps to prevent recruitment from their ranks.
Rewarding supervisors and managers who keep their most valuable
employees on staff can be an effective way to reduce costly turnover.
Companies might also consider mentoring their top employees, grooming
them for positions of leadership within the organization. Allow
for mentoring and networking opportunities with senior executives
the mentor's function is to help the employee in those areas
where support is needed.
Turnover within a company is natural, but businesses that succeed
know how to keep their most valuable employees. By improving your
staff's quality of life, you not only retain your top workers, but
you make the office a better place to work traits that will
serve you well when it comes time to do recruiting of your own.
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Spencer Lee is the executive director of RHI Consulting, a division
of Robert Half International and the industry’s leading provider
of project and full-time technical talent for the Internet economy.