How to Recruit and Retain the Best IT Workers

Traditional salary and benefits packages aren't feasible in today's stagnant economy. So how do companies attract and keep top IT talent? Guest columnist Joe Peter, CEO of Scientific Search, outlines some practical steps.
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In today's global economy, with the explosion of electronic commerce and the ability to build relationships via the Internet, the IT professional's role arguably has become one of the most important functions to any successful business organization. So important, in fact, that the U.S. Department of Labor and Bureau Labor Statistics predicts the IT industry to be one of the fastest-growing sectors by 2010.

However, until the need for these professionals catches up with its future (both monetarily and logistically), most managers will continue to grapple with the dilemma of how to recruit and retain workers today. Charged now with the daunting task of keeping production levels up while holding employee spending down, managers have begun to recognize that traditional salary and benefits packages just aren't feasible in today's stagnant economy.

Yet, there is hope for managers looking to attract the best because, as luck would have it, salary and benefits aren't what drive today's IT workers anyway. In fact, in a recent KPMG survey it was revealed that for the first time "community quality-of-life factors" are leading criteria when selecting where to work, outstripping stock options, other economic benefits and even company stability (all of which have been longtime priorities for workers) as key criteria.

"Unlike generations of American workers before them, today's [IT] workers are choosing where to live and work based heavily on lifestyle considerations," says writer Paul Van Slambrouck in a recent Christian Science Monitor article ("Lifestyle Drives Today's Workers"). "This emerging trend runs counter to the stereotype of technology workers as work-obsessed and driven only by a gold-rush mentality."

Quality-of-life issues are not new concepts in the workplace, especially since Gen X entered the workforce. But according to experts, it seems to be especially important to today's IT professionals, who many say are adding a kick to the trend.

So how can you ensure that you are attracting and retaining the same, or better, candidates than your competitors? We suggest a variety of steps that will help you increase your recruitment and retention rates without decreasing your bottom line.

Determine Your Corporate Culture

The first thing you need to determine is what kind of work environment you envision for your employees and if you can realistically provide this to them.

Many companies may want a laissez-faire atmosphere, but in reality this may not work for their type of organization. That's why it's important to set your corporate goals and then decide if they can be reached with your proposed plan.

Maybe you can't afford to give half-day Fridays, but you may be able to allow some professionals to work from home. Very few companies have the luxury of being able to provide employees with all the "perks" they seek, but if you're willing to work with them you may just find the perfect work/life balance that everyone is happy with.


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