Not all IT professionals are yelling, “Show me the money!” Some are more interested in the training and development opportunities a company provides, according to a recent study by Robert Half Technology, a provider of IT consultants and staffing services.
When the 1,400 CIOs who participated in the study were asked about the most effective ways to improve staff retention, 27 percent cited increased compensation, 21 percent cited professional development or training, 18 percent cited flexible schedules, 7 percent cited telecommuting and 6 percent cited extra vacation days or time off.
“Compensation topped the list, but right behind was professional development,” said Frank Han, vice president at Robert Half Technology. “IT changes by the day literally. There are always new updates and new technologies. A lot of technology professionals, especially veterans of the business, [say] it’s important they know what the next wave will be, that they understand what the next release is all about.”
Because IT is ever-changing, it’s critical that companies provide employees with professional development and training. This has a twofold impact, as it makes employees more effective in their job roles, and at the same time, it shows them their organizations are interested in making a long-term investment in their development.
But if IT is recognized by CIOs to be an effective retention method, why is it the first line item to be cut? Many times it’s because senior management doesn’t understand the benefits of training.
“The higher-up management [should] understand how important training is,” Han said. “[They must] say, ‘OK, here are my initiatives. In order for me to complete these initiatives and have staff retention, training [has] to be provided.’ The training piece is integrated with candidate retention and making employees happy.”
To ensure management understands the role of training, trainers must provide information regarding the return on investment.
“It would be wise for an IT trainer to have the ear of management and communicate the importance of ongoing training,” Han said. “[But] they [must] have numbers to back it up.”
Training means nothing if no one knows about it. Everyone in the organization should be aware of the training that’s provided, as well as professional development opportunities, and it’s up to trainers to disperse that knowledge and market their departments.
“It would be wise for [IT trainers] to make sure management understands they’re capable of training and be able to recommend to the executive and all the management at hand what [you can] give value to,” Han said. “[For example] if you’re thinking of project X, here’s what I know about project X. Here’s what I could recommend training sessions to be. IT trainers should feel comfortable communicating with the higher-end management and drive that process.”
If trainers aren’t being proactive and communicating with executives, marketing their training and relaying the results of their programs, it inevitably will affect retention.
“The workers these days really value their career growth,” Han said. “Compensation’s important, but it’s not the cure-all to retain valuable staff.”
– Lindsay Edmonds Wickman, firstname.lastname@example.org