Wednesday 15th December 2021
Fixing the IT talent problem with flexible work

It’s never been more important to offer and execute on a flexible work model, including one so flexible that workers in technology might remain remote workers as long as they need and desire. Often mistaken for hybrid work, flexible work is more than a predefined calendar of when an employee must be in the office: it’s a model where the employee experience is at the center.

This is especially challenging for technical positions in organizations. This talent is super-critical because they are often the ones planning, designing, building, or supporting revenue engines within a company. Keeping hold of this talent – and attracting similarly capable tech employees – is therefore a top priority for businesses all over the world… but it’s far from easy.

In this blog, we’ll explore the scale of the IT talent problem, and how a strong flexible work model can be a key differentiator in a highly competitive and volatile job market.

Multiple job market pressures

Several different factors are contributing to create a bit of a ‘perfect storm’ around IT talent attraction and retention. Certainly, the Great Resignation isn’t helping matters as the groundswell of job-quitting through all areas of the labor force continues. SHRM research has found that four out of every ten American workers are actively searching for a new job right now, or are planning to do so in the near future.

This problem is exacerbated among tech employees, where TalentMS has found that 72% of them in the U.S. are considering quitting their current job within the next 12 months. This comes at a time when there was already a chronic shortage of IT talent, even before the pandemic took hold. As an example, data from the trade association CompTIA found that in 2019, there were 920,000 unfilled software engineer positions in the U.S., with the figure expected to reach 1.2 million by 2026.

There is already compelling evidence that this talent shortage is really starting to hold a lot of businesses back. A recent Gartner survey found that at 64% of businesses, the shortage was the biggest barrier to the adoption of emerging technologies this year, up from just 4% last year.

How to attract – and to retain

It’s clear that businesses can’t sit back and do nothing: they must be proactive in doing everything they can to retain existing IT talent, and attract new talent. Flexible work can play a big part in this response: Dice’s Tech Salary Report cited better working conditions as second only to money in the motivation rankings of tech professionals.

So firstly, what can you do to support talent retention through flexible work? Four key concepts should define your strategy:

  • Create clear work and team management policies: ensure everybody knows who is working where, when and with whom, so that policies are transparent and collaboration is made easier.
  • Leverage an organized approach: ensure that employees’ means of working flexibly and making their arrangements are easy to access, easy to use and form part of a wider flexible work ecosystem.
  • Use employee-first technology: consider the use of a workspace booking platform that gives employees control over their flexibility, and gives them free choice over where and when they work.
  • Promote safe collaboration: enable a seamless blend of in-person, virtual and mixed meetings by bringing video conferencing tools and AV-equipped bookable meeting rooms together.

When it comes to attracting talent, the most important thing is to communicate; specifically, to communicate all of the above points and how they’ve been so successful in creating positive employee experiences. This messaging should be everywhere: in your career web pages, in job descriptions, in company videos, employee relations material, media information and even in stockholder briefings.

Talented candidates will do their research on a prospective employer before deciding whether to commit, and if all they see is feelgood messaging around how flexibly they can work, it may just swing their decision in your favor. These may be little differences, but in the current job climate, their importance can’t be overstated.

Get more detailed information about how flexible work can turn the Great Resignation into your Great Opportunity by downloading our new eBook: The Great Reward.

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