This article originally appeared in InformationWeek.
According to recent figures by consulting firm Korn Ferry, the US tech industry is projected to face a shortage of at least 1.2 million tech workers by 2030. Hiring and retention should always be a priority for every business. Without a strong employee base to progress business operations and deliver great outcomes and results, organizations will ultimately fall behind their competition and fail. Recruiting IT professionals should be a key business priority, considering the fierce competition for tech talent and a low supply to meet demand.
To win top tech talent in this candidate-driven market, companies must offer increasingly competitive salaries and flexibility beyond remote work, and extend their talent pipelines outside of traditional technology hubs to other regions globally.
Samantha Lawrence, Hired's senior vice president of people strategy, says that for most companies, all managers and leaders should be involved in crafting and refining the hiring and retention strategy when it comes to tech hiring. That’s especially true when it comes to IT managers, said Lawrence. Organizations can help identify talent gaps, convey their hiring needs, and uncover potential areas for improvement within their existing teams to improve retention rates.
“As they are most involved with the day-to-day operations, they can also best identify opportunities for upskilling and help talent managers isolate specific skill sets and experiences that are most needed for a given role,” Lawrence explains.
She says as part of their retention strategy, companies should also invest in their employees’ career development.
“We recently did a survey of software engineers and more than half of them said it’s important to them that their employer provides professional development opportunities,” she explains. “Given it costs companies, on average, between 30% and 50% of an entry-level employee’s salary to replace them, providing upskilling and reskilling opportunities are an important and more cost-efficient way to bridge skill gaps and reduce employee turnover.”
DevSkiller CEO Jakub Kubrynski says as “software is eating the world” at an ever-greater pace, the competition for tech talent is heating up. “All in all, you cannot succeed in digital transformation without the right people with the right skills in the right roles,” he says. “However, to achieve that, it’s no longer enough to have a tech talent acquisition and retention policy in place.”
Kubrynski explains as the talent pool is limited and the pace of technological development accelerates, most companies should refocus their attention and efforts on a reskilling and upskilling strategy. “Identifying the employees who don’t possess the desired skill sets yet but have a high potential to acquire them, and planning career paths for them is the key business process to succeed in a world where every company becomes a technology company,” he says.
In most cases, the two most important stakeholders outside of HR are the IT department and the management board. The former should formulate the required skill sets for each tech position, depending on the seniority level and technological stack used, and be the main “sparring partner” for HR in crafting the nitty-gritty details of the strategy.
“On the other hand, the management board should facilitate the alignment of the strategy with the business goals and financial boundary conditions,” Kubrynski adds.
From the perspective of Jeff Weber, executive director at Robert Half, company stakeholders should be using the metrics of business performance to determine how well their IT hiring and retention strategies are aligning with broader company goals. “The driver of digital transformation is that the technology investment now isn't separate from business performance,” he says. “It's part of business performance.”
Weber points out that organizations need to have a talent strategy for technology professionals that is no different than what they had for other key resources that drove business strategy over the last two decades.
“The challenge for many organizations is to be willing to acquire talents that may not have all the skills, but who can, through their program of upskill and reskill, enable some of that retention and capacity that they need,” he says.
Businesses are now faced with increasing tech skills knowledge across the entire organization, Weber points out, reinforcing the concept that technology, talent and business strategy shoots through the entire organization, touching every employee at every level.
“It’s inherent upon organizations to have this corporate investment model run on technology talent,” he says.
However, Kubrynski notes that while the hiring and retention of IT specialists is under the spotlight right now, mainly because of talent shortages, he says he believes that in the mid-term, the hype around this particular category of professionals would decrease. He predicts that with a steady influx of new IT professionals to the market and the development of low-code and no-code solutions, the balance between IT skills supply and demand should stabilize. From his perspective, tackling the digital skills gap seems more appropriate as a key long-term business priority.
He points to a recent Salesforce study, which says that the digital skills gap is forecast to generate a loss of $11.5 trillion cumulative GDP growth for just 14 of the world’s richest economies. “Hence, the most successful companies of the future will be those capable of building a digital-ready workforce -- not only by acquiring and retaining talent but also by reskilling and upskilling,” Kubrynski says.
Nathan Eddy is a freelance writer for InformationWeek. He has written for Popular Mechanics, Sales & Marketing Management Magazine, FierceMarkets, and CRN, among others. In 2012 he made his first documentary film, The Absent Column. He currently lives in Berlin.