IT hiring: 7 tips to retain passionate, high-performing talent

Looking to hire new talent, or just keep your current team in place? Consider this expert advice to compete in today's tough hiring environment
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HBR Article: Make your company a talent factory

According to the U.S. Labor Department, there were 11.3 million job openings at the end of January 2022. This reflects a fact that many of us already know: There is an enormous demand for talent across all industries. Tech leaders must continuously find new ways to retain and attract the best talent to compete.

Here are seven tips to achieve this goal.

1. Foster a purpose-driven culture

In the workplace, individuals want their work to make a difference. A purpose-driven culture is key to attracting, retaining, and growing talent. For example, like many of the 12,000 technologists on my team, I was attracted to Chase because of the direct impact I could have on our business and on the 60 million households we serve. If you can’t show employees how their work makes a difference, you won’t keep them for long.

2. Stimulate passion through intellectual curiosity

The second key ingredient to foster passion is creating an environment that rewards intellectual curiosity. Technologists must constantly be learning to keep pace with the constant evolution of technology.

[ Also read IT retention: 5 strategies for becoming a talent magnet. ]

To encourage learning, create a safe space for everyone to ask questions without fear of judgment. You’ll quickly start seeing technologists at all levels of your organization coming up with ideas and solutions that would otherwise never have been heard.

3. Recognize wins 365 days a year

The desire to win has a direct influence on a technology team’s ability to innovate. Whether it’s writing a line of code, fixing a bug, or coming up with a great new UX feature for your firm’s mobile app, these achievements contribute to the success of your organization – and have a positive impact on end-users!

Never underestimate the power of a simple thank you. Making someone feel genuinely appreciated for what they do is a powerful motivator. Remember that victories come in all sizes and recognizing successes in real-time pays dividends. Leaders at all levels should never shy away from recognizing and thanking individuals and teams who help drive success at town halls, during team meetings, or in email. This motivates employees to succeed, deepens their engagement, and helps with retention.

Winning teams don’t materialize in a vacuum. It takes a consistent approach to maintain a winning mentality.

Never underestimate the power of a simple thank you. Making someone feel genuinely appreciated for what they do is a powerful motivator.

4. Help technologists future-proof their skills

Companies in nearly every industry are undergoing broad transformation. While knowledge of cloud, artificial intelligence and machine learning (AI/ML), and other technologies is essential, it’s also important for your team to understand some of the heritage technologies in use. Armed with an understanding of both, employees can think strategically about how to connect the dots and employ smart solutions.

That said, don’t overlook potential employees who may not have experience in both new and heritage tech – instead, ensure you have programs in place for continued learning and upskilling. Above all, seek out candidates who have the drive, attitude, and interest to make an impact.

5. Recruit diverse talent

It’s no secret: Diverse teams help break group-think, improve collaboration, and innovate far better. However, to make sustainable progress on that front, companies need to broaden their technology recruitment pipelines beyond traditional sources. This will help them attract a more diverse talent pool, including technologists with non-traditional university backgrounds.

[ Read also: 5 ways to hire and retain women in your IT organization ]

6. Encourage feedback

Retaining talent takes work and goes beyond benefits and perks. Employees want to feel heard and respected. Leaders need to regularly engage with employees at all levels, especially those at companies that have embraced a flexible/hybrid work model. It’s important to be transparent and provide real-time feedback.

Dedicate time to hear directly from employees via regular check-ins, town halls, and “office hours.” Look to create opportunities for employees, especially more junior ones, to gain exposure to senior leaders and actively participate in meetings. For more senior staff, focus on nurturing and growing their skills.

Remember, most people leave bosses, not companies. Give employees the opportunity to learn and grow their careers, learn from mistakes, and improve.

7. Improve collaboration through agility

A collaborative environment can empower your teams to make decisions at speed. Having this freedom instills confidence and encourages them to be creative. To maximize speed, it’s imperative for technology teams to collaborate openly across business units and functions.

Over the past several years, Chase has undertaken an agility transformation, shifting from a project-aligned structure to one aligned around products. This has enabled us to dramatically speed up our ability to impact customers. Today, our product, digital, design, and technology teams are joined at the hip, which has improved collaboration and created new innovations.

[ Get exercises and approaches that make disparate teams stronger. Read the digital transformation ebook: Transformation Takes Practice. ]

Gill Haus is the Chief Information Officer for Consumer & Community Banking (Chase) at JPMorgan Chase.