Four Ways To Win The Tech Talent Wars

“Talent management deserves as much focus as financial capital management in corporations.” Jack Welch, former CEO of GE

Westeros, the fictional continent featured in HBO’s wildly popular “Game of Thrones” isn’t the only place at war. All the colleagues I talk to, from healthcare to higher education, in a variety of regions in the US, are constantly embroiled in the Tech Talent Wars. Forget dragons, we’re all on the hunt for purple squirrels.

According to a study by McKinsey, 67% of the workers in the US earn less than $45,000, while only 2% of workers earn $200,000 or more.  Meanwhile, three of the top 10 “hard to fill” jobs in the US are technology related (software engineer, data scientist and IT security) with median salaries between $90 – $130K.

  1. Great talent begets great talent. Talented people want to work with other talented people. Know who your strongest people are and involve them in recruitment and retention of critical roles. Make sure new hires don’t just see the “stars” who persuaded them to join the team during the interview process – the “stars” should be incented and given time to help with retaining. It’s like my favorite hotel – not only are they happy to see me when I check in, they communicate with me every day to see if I’m comfortable and if I need anything.
  2. Retention is the new recruitment. Compensation represents the lion’s share of most company’s budget. The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) estimates it takes 60-90% of a position’s salary to replace an individual. The cost can be much more for top talent and executives. Investment in developing employees, paying attention to engagement, ensuring managers and supervisors are skilled in supporting their teams – these are all less expensive investments than replacing valuable talent. Also, it should be everybody’s responsibility to retain talent, not just Human Resources. Employees should be trained to help each other remain productive and engaged.
  3. Multiple channels of recruitment. Companies need to leverage all channels: internal recruiting, recruiting firms, retained searches, local colleges, existing employee referrals/networks. Also, the recruitment experience needs to be an engaging, digital experience. Prospective employees perceive your company through a digital lens – if it isn’t easy to connect and navigate the hiring process, top talent will be hired elsewhere while you are still trying to schedule interviews.
  4. Give back to get back. The afore-mentioned “67% under 45K” is a lagging indicator of the gap between what employers need and what workers are educated and skilled to achieve. If companies want ready talent, they need to invest in education in the communities in which they operate, both K-12 and higher education. Public education is strapped for state and federal funding. There are plenty of opportunities to partner, including scholarships, technology camps, and equipment such as laptops or software licenses. The young people who benefit from corporate involvement are future workers – empower them to have choices beyond low wage jobs. Studies in California and Texas indicate $4.50 and $13.50 worth of value, respectively, for every dollar invested in education.

Leaders in all sectors and levels should be focused on developing talent in their communities, respecting talent as their most valuable asset, and actively engaged on a daily basis in supporting retention.

“You don’t have to be THE leader to be A leader in tackling the talent shortage epidemic. After all, if not you, then who?” Susan Mazza, Leadership Coach

Worth considering:

Speaking of HBO, they continue to be the victim of hacking. Recent reports say hackers are demanding over $7 million to stop leaking content such as “Game of Thrones.”

Offering relevant perks are another way to recruit and retain talent. So what are the top perks that technology workers want? Top talent see through things like ping pong tables, and snack food like soda and chips aren’t enough. Valued perks include healthy food options, paid parental leave, generous vacation time (and a culture that allows you to take it!), and competitive benefits packages. However, above all is giving employees flexibility as to available perks. While healthy snacks and decent coffee might appeal to the majority, vacation policies and benefits packages might need more nuanced options.




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