After a three-year downturn, it was only a matter of time before the economy picked up, business expanded and demand for IT workers accelerated.
For those who might question the strength of the economic recovery, consider these statistics from a recent Motley Fool article revenue for the S&P 500 is more than $250 billion higher over the past 12 months than it was in 2007. Meanwhile, corporate profits now represent 9.5 percent of GDP, well above the 6.0 percent average since 1947 and one of the highest percentages recorded since then.
By some measures, the U.S. IT labor market appears to have reached such an inflection point for demand. And while demand does indeed seem to be picking up for specific skills in different regions, it's still important to remember that many employers still aren't hiring: the national unemployment rate is hovering near double digits and those figures don't include under-employed workers or those who have stopped looking for work.
Still, according to a new quarterly survey by TEKsystems, a technology staffing and services company, 43 percent of IT leaders are anticipating increases in temporary IT hiring while 42 percent expect to boost permanent IT staffing levels.
For many IT leaders, this not only marks the start of a new period for evaluating fresh talent. It also means that their top people may be vigorously pursued by recruiters and headhunters.
For IT professionals who have wanderlust in their hearts, the strengthening economy may represent an opportunity for them to explore greener pastures.
There's not much that IT and HR professionals can do when an IT worker has already decided to bolt. However, there are some steps that IT leaders can take to try to retain their best and brightest before they jump ship:
- Conduct a top-to-bottom evaluation of your current team. Identify the skills and expertise you have in-house and what will be needed for the next few years.
- Identify your top performers and meet with them one-on-one. Recognizing and singling out individual performers makes a big difference to many people.
- Evaluate opportunities for bonuses, rewards, recognition, etc. Cash is king but monetary rewards aren't at the top of the list for all people. Recognizing an individual's efforts in front of their peers or granting someone a "Chairman's Award" goes a long way in making people feel connected to an organization and wanted.
- Identify opportunities for freeing up discretionary spending. For those performers where money talks, identify operational areas where additional cost savings can be gleaned and then used for a bonus pool or merit raises.
- Motivate, Inspire and Share Your Vision. Employees and managers want to work for leaders who inspire and motivate them. Regularly communicate your vision for the organization and how employees' contributions complement those plans.