Keeping Tech Talent—the Critical Difference

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The next frontier in the coming talent war, according to McKinsey, will be deep analytics to probe big data as a basis of competition underpinning new waves of productivity, growth, and innovation. Are you ready to compete and win in this technical talent war?

Industry leader Information Week contends that data expertise is called for to take advantage of data mining, text mining, forecasting, and machine-to-machine data analysis. How does your staff stack up?

Finding, hiring, and keeping good talent within the technology realm is the number one concern among senior executives, hiring managers, and team leaders, according to the latest Harris Allied Tech Hiring and Retention Survey. In that study, more than 41% agreed that finding tech talent was critical while 19% of those surveyed said that retention was their biggest concern. Let’s look at more of the Harris data.

The survey was conducted by Harris Allied in September and October 2012 among 110 executives ranging from C-level executives to middle management at financial services, professional services, consumer goods, digital media, and technology companies.

Don’t be fooled by current national unemployment figures, currently hovering above 8%. “In the technology space in particular, concerns over the ability to attract game-changing talent has become institutional and are keeping all levels of management awake at night,” notes Harris Allied Managing Director Kathy Harris.

The reason, as wiredFINANCE readers know, is that success with critical new technologies around big data, analytics, cloud computing, social business, virtualization, and mobile increasingly is giving top performing organizations their competitive advantage. Unless your IT group has been charged to proactively keep up, it probably is saddled with 5-year old, pre-recession skills at best, 10-year old skills more likely.

The majority of companies are still suffering from the prolonged recession that forced extended cutbacks in hiring and training and still have not been fully restored. As a result, the Harris study found, when asking respondents for the primary reason they thought people left their organization, 20% said people left for more exciting job opportunities or for the chance to get their hands on some hot new technology. Another 18% said their corporate culture was challenging and presented morale issues.

Some companies recognize the problem and belatedly are trying to get back into the tech talent race. As Harris found when asking about what companies are doing to attract this kind of top talent 38% said they now were offering what they described as great opportunities for career growth. Others, 28%, were offering opportunities for professional development to recruit top tech pros. A smaller number, 24.5%, were offering what they characterized as competitive compensation packages while fewer still, 9%, offered competitive benefits packages.

To retain the top tech talent they already had 33.6% were offering opportunities for professional development as the single most important strategy they leveraged to retain employees. Others, 24.5%, offered opportunities for career advancement while 23.6% offered competitive salaries. Still ,a few hoped a telecommuting option or competitive bonuses would do the trick.

Although some felt corporate culture was enough of a problem to mention, few reported efforts to change the corporate culture as a key response. Granted, changing the corporate culture involves a major undertaking, one that requires enthusiastic leadership from the entire C-level team and their direct reports just to start. If the goal is to become a top performer, however, building a company that leverages data and technology will be required, and for that you will need to foster a supportive culture to attract and retain the topnotch data analysts and technologists who can get you there.

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