Six Ways to Attract and Retain Top Tech Talent | Gagen MacDonald

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Six Ways to Attract and Retain Top Tech Talent

Aug 30, 2016

Attracting and retaining top talent in the technology industry is crucial for any company. That’s why the news is full of stories of incredible perks designed to lure the best developers. Yet many companies fall short in this area because they don’t understand what really motivates people. Ping-pong tables and free drinks are nice, but cultivating a staff of high-performers requires understanding what intrinsically motivates them not only to work for a company, but to produce good work and feel part of the organization so that they want to stay. A good recruitment strategy starts with a thoughtfully crafted employee value proposition. Focus on the employees—their needs—and they will be engaged and loyal.

This post outlines six proven ways to attract and retain tech talent:

    1. Create a mentor program. In IT, career paths are chosen early, and it can be hard to switch course down the road. Employees know this and want to feel like they’re making the right decision. Establish mentor programs where employees can openly discuss their concerns and make the right decision for them. For employees who have already passed this stage, facilitate monthly lunches with executives who are higher up in the company or at the same level in other divisions so they can network. They will not only learn about and become more invested in organization-wide strategic initiatives, they can exchange strategies for dealing with tricky management issues.
    2. Define career progression. One of the most common questions job seekers ask is whether there is potential for growth. Define career paths early so employees understand their role is training them for higher positions later on. Some technology workers are hesitant to take the leap into a directorial role that entails spending less time on tech and more time on people skills. Honest discussions early on can help workers understand the right career path and how their jobs might evolve over time.
    3. Keep employee skills sharp. Technology is constantly changing. Proactively training employees not only ensures the organization stays competitive, it addresses employee concerns of becoming obsolete. This can be done formally or informally on the job and take multiple forms: from support for certification programs, to time off to attend conferences and hackathons. Make sure to emphasize cross-training between employees as well. If the current team’s skills are aging, consider a change initiative designed to build a world-class technology strategy and bring everyone up to speed.
    4. Give tech employees the tools they need to do the job well. If a tech worker says they need something, treat that request as a high-priority. Whether it’s dual monitors, diagnostic tools or collaboration software, stay ultra-responsive to team needs. This applies to remote employees as well.
    5. Promote independence. One of the biggest psychological motivators, particularly for tech talent, is self-determination. This includes the ability to decide how you work and where you work, how the job gets done, who is on your team, how to structure your day, and what projects you’re working on. Allowing a certain amount of autonomy is very attractive to all talent, but even more so for high-value IT roles.
    6. Up the cool factor. It’s not all about the perks: Give them a sense of purpose. Offer a sense of belonging to something larger than a set of projects. Appeal to the mission, and inspire them to be a part of it.

Focus on the individual, but don’t forget the sum of all individuals is what makes an organization strong. Many companies either fail to recognize or underestimate the power of a strong workplace culture. Culture defines how employees experience work every day. When vetting new talent, hire for cultural fit as well as technical expertise. Skills can be taught, but attitude and personality can’t. Make sure you’re hiring people who reflect and amplify the culture you’re trying to build.

IT employees are also more inclined to stay with organizations that respect and value the technology division’s contributions. With help from Gagen MacDonald, Exelon’s “IT’s For You” campaign supported a major technology transformation while elevating the profile of Exelon’s IT department internally.

How does your company’s employee value proposition for tech talent stack up? Contact us for assistance in raising the bar.

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