IT hiring: 4 tips to retain and attract top IT talent right now

Attracting and retaining top talent has never been more challenging. Consider this expert advice to position your organization for hiring success
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Amid the “The Great Resignation,” tech companies are hard-pressed to attract and retain talent. Most workplaces were radically disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, and leadership teams have spent the past two years navigating how to support a remote workforce and ensure that their employees’ needs continue to be met.

Meanwhile, employees are looking more closely at how their workplace can support their well-being and help them feel fulfilled in their careers. Companies need to ensure they measure up or risk losing valuable employees and candidates.

Engineers are in especially high demand. These valuable employees will ultimately decide whether to stay with their current companies or transition to others, based on whether they are provided with the right working environment to support their success.

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

Retain and attract IT talent in today's tight market

Like most employees, engineers and technical workers look for enterprises that provide four key opportunities: learning and skill growth, mentorship, a strong company mission, and competitive benefits. Each of these factors is crucial to retaining and attracting talent.

1. Learning and skill growth

The best technical talent is constantly looking to learn new tools, including new technologies, frameworks, languages, and more. They want to stretch their capabilities and expand their knowledge by solving increasingly difficult problems.

To address this, offer opportunities for teams to work with the newest technologies in their domain. Emphasizing learning opportunities benefits employees, leads to better products and outcomes, and creates better experiences for customers and better results for the company as a whole.

2. Mentorship

Employees will always benefit from working with and learning from peers they respect and mentors who can help them grow. Organizations that build and support mentorship programs, whether formally or informally, help develop talent by giving workers the chance to sharpen each other’s skills.

This is especially critical to upskilling talent, as both mentors and mentees learn more about leadership by working with one another. A sense of camaraderie among coworkers is essential to successful teamwork and makes work more enjoyable and positive. Establishing teams with complementary skill sets, training, and mentoring opportunities within and outside the company has a significant impact on employee engagement, both socially and professionally.

3. Strong company mission

In general, companies that aspire to make a difference in the world attract and retain more loyal employees, in technical as well as other areas. People who feel that their efforts matter and that they are contributing to the world in a positive way are more likely to enjoy their work and stay with their organization.

The best way to attract and retain talent is to ask employees what they need and want, respect their feedback, and create the best possible culture to match.

4. Competitive benefits

Many leaders assume that compensation is the biggest driver of retention, but this is not always true. While organizations do need to be market-competitive, a high salary alone is enough to retain employees if their work is not satisfying or challenging, if they dislike their teams or managers, or if their company lacks a positive and purposeful culture.

Over the past two years, employees have placed tremendous value on flexibility. While many companies have shifted between hybrid and on-site work models, employees want flexibility as a permanent part of their company’s culture. Offering flexible work options as a permanent benefit supports employee well-being, productivity, and long-term success.

In general, the best way to attract and retain talent is to ask employees what they need and want, respect their feedback, and create the best possible culture to match.

What makes these traits crucial?

Each of these four elements plays a role in attracting top technical talent. The most common reasons employees leave their companies include not liking their jobs or the people they work with and perceived low pay. Therefore, it’s critical to ensure that your employees enjoy their jobs and are challenged to grow, that they feel empowered to collaborate with their teams and peers, that they work on meaningful projects, and that they are compensated well.

You cannot make up for any one of these factors by over-rotating on the others. As a leader, you must commit to constantly making needed changes large and small to support the overall well-being of your employees.

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

Sanjeev Agrawal is the President and Chief Operating Officer at LeanTaaS, a leading healthcare predictive analytics company based in Silicon Valley. Sanjeev was Google’s first Head of Product Marketing.