IT veterans vs. pricey new hires: How to mind the salary gap

IT veterans vs. pricey new hires: How to mind the salary gap

Balancing high starting salaries for new graduates with those of IT veterans may feel challenging – but it doesn’t have to be. Are you truly taking care of your stars?

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August 22, 2019

How do companies balance the need for highly paid new IT talent with the needs of current employees?

Technology can influence a company’s operations in many ways, and setting salaries to attract the newest and most sought-after IT talent is no exception. According to Collegechoice.net, some of the highest-paying careers for college graduates seeking IT employment have an average high-end salary well over $100,000 – and recent grads could potentially earn six figures soon after completing their bachelor’s degree.

The question then becomes: How do companies balance the need for highly paid new IT talent with the needs of current employees, many of whom may have worked several years or more to achieve similar pay scales?

In defense of companies paying these salaries, many new IT jobs contain elements of machine learning, data and analytics, digital enablement, and more progressive programming languages found in virtual or augmented reality programs. These skills were not available to many tenured IT employees when they were in school, and this is one of the primary factors for inflating starting salary ranges of new employees.

[ The AI guru wants how much? Read also: AI careers and salaries: 7 telling statistics. ]

Obviously, if you’re a graduating college student, this is very good news. However, if you are an employee with years under your belt establishing the network that is core to the organization’s business operations, does that mean you deserve to be compensated less than a starting IT employee?

Balancing the high-paying jobs for the younger generation with those of the IT generation before it may be challenging for some organizations – but it doesn’t have to be.

How to beat the high starting salary challenge

Take a hard look at how you rate, compensate, and promote employees.

Organizations that struggle with the dilemma above need to take a hard look at how they rate, compensate, and promote their employees. If HR and operations work together to do that correctly, then the challenge should not exist.

Employees, new and established, want the same thing: to be recognized for a job well done and treated fairly for doing so. Yes, new skills may demand a higher starting salary, but those previous-generation skills are the ones usually running your business today.

Managers need to invest and reward tenured employees who are high-performing, and ensure that they are happy in their jobs. This may include higher pay, bonuses, more time off, and most certainly an investment in education to build new skills or keep up existing skills. These high performers may not be SMEs in the latest bleeding-edge technology, but they are the backbone of your current IT infrastructure and your future IT managers. It is your organization’s responsibility to make sure they feel that way.

Of course, not everyone can be rewarded like a high performer, because not everyone is one. That means today’s managers must also make the hard decision of managing low performers out, or at minimum, not rewarding them at the same pace and rate of their rockstars. This process will ensure that any pay gap between talented new hires and more experienced workers exists only within low performers who are likely on their way out. It also helps ensure that funds are available for investment in both current and future needs.

If you don’t reward stars, someone else will

It’s worth noting that this “challenge” may not be quite as prevalent as some believe it to be.

It is not unusual for IT professionals in their first 10 years to have stops at four to five companies.

Long gone are the days when an IT employee retires through the same door they entered to begin their career. It is not unusual for IT professionals in their first 10 years of their career to have stops at four to five companies.

The propensity to move quickly also allows quicker pay increases at each hop than seen by those who stay at an organization for an extended period. Therefore, the “pay gap” may not be as common as some believe. It also should teach employers a valuable lesson: If you don’t reward your high performers, someone else will.

Is there a challenge in how organizations balance the compensation of cutting-edge talent with that of a generation ago? Maybe for some, but not if your operations and HR are working together to take care of star performers.

By following these processes, you can ensure that you are implementing leading technologies that will carry your organization into the future while continuing to excel today – thanks to knowledgeable, tenured employees who are intimately familiar with your company’s network and systems. And both sets of employees will be proud to work for your company.

[ Download our free eBook: IT job searching in 2019: A practical guide. ]

As Chief Operating Officer, Jason Lasseigne oversees all operations for Sparkhound. Prior to joining Sparkhound, Jason was the Chief Operating Officer at Envoc, a full-service digital agency and was instrumental in their record growth and success. He’s also held management and executive positions at IBM Global Services, APPRO/Equifax, and TraceSecurity.

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