Employee Engagement is Key in the New Talent Landscape

Challenging global market for tech talent requires new strategies to acquire, retain and engage employees, says ISG expert speaking at All Day DevOps

Enterprises and service providers are facing a talent crunch that requires them to double down on employee engagement programs to attract and retain people with critical skill sets, says an expert with Information Services Groupa leading global technology research and advisory firm.

“A clear list of objectives and solid direction and career timing help employees feel more invested with their leader and with the organization”

Speaking at the All Day DevOps virtual Ola Chowning, partner, ISG Digital Strategy and Solutions, said companies need to engage employees and ensure they are noticed, recognized, heard and valued to improve retention. Chowning made her comments during a 30-minute online presentation, “Skill Shift 2022 – From Deep to Wide, Hard To Soft,” her fifth consecutive appearance at the annual event, the largest of its kind in the industry.

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“Talent scarcity, the ‘Great Resignation’ and attrition have dramatically increased the challenge of retaining employees,” Chowning said. “Enterprises are using a broad range of strategies to not only preempt employee exits, but also to preempt the need to counter-offer, which is more costly and rarely succeeds in retaining employees longer-term.”

Finding and retaining talent continues to be a major concern among tech leaders in all industries, ISG research finds. A recent survey of procurement officers by ISG found their number-one concern was wage inflation, cited by 64 percent of respondents. Thirty-eight percent cited talent shortages, which trailed only wage inflation, general inflation and supply chain disruptions on the list of top concerns.

A separate study by ISG found more than 40 percent of the global IT services workforce was hired in the last 12 months, indicative of a job-switching phenomenon the firm called the “Great Reshuffle.”

When it comes to retaining employees, Chowning said bonuses, benefits and gifts are only useful in the short term. Beyond typical compensation, recognition and reward systems, more innovative approaches for nurturing employees with broad and deep DevOps skills include reimbursing employees for external education and certification training and providing access to specialized technology programs.

“Unique, career-specific learning and accreditation is on the rise and can be far more valued by IT employees than widely available online learning,” Chowning said. “Technologists particularly enjoy learning new things and being involved in technology advancements. Linking participation in such programs to career advancement can provide a lane of opportunity and send a message about how the organization values employee expertise.”

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Employees often feel unsure of their future opportunities and about the steps they need to take to advance, Chowning said. In response, organizations are making career paths far clearer, allowing employees to plot their career course alongside their leader and assess their progress.

“A clear list of objectives and solid direction and career timing help employees feel more invested with their leader and with the organization,” she said. “When employees are engaged in the corporate culture, have visibility to the executive team and are confident the company values their input, they are significantly less likely to leave. In today’s talent landscape, this is a competitive advantage.”

The seventh annual All Day DevOps 24-hour live stream event started at 3 a.m., U.S. Eastern Time, today. The conference features 180 practitioner-led sessions, across six tracks: CI/CD Continuous Everything; Modern Infrastructure; DevSecOps; Cultural Transformation, Site Reliability Engineering and the Software Supply Chain. Registration and information are available on the event website.

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