It's safe to say that employee loyalty in IT firms has been on the decline for the last few decades. But why? Is it because employees jump ship at the first sign of a better opportunity? Or is it that companies don't see profit in loyalty and therefore are willing to create a revolving door environment where employees are simply commodities that are minimally trained and easily discarded?
Unfortunately, the blame often falls on both sides of the table. But for us to get back on track, I feel that management needs to make the first move. A recent article detailing a CompTIA research report shows that 90 percent of IT managers are struggling to find workers with the desired skill sets but are unwilling to train their in-house staff to meet their needs. Instead, they continue to look for external consultants to fill the knowledge gap.
And why is management looking to outsourced employees as opposed to their existing staff? I believe there are two primary factors.
First, employers want IT staff that already have the desired skills as opposed to taking time to train someone they already have. Cloud computing skills are a great example, as the cloud boom hit the IT industry fast and hard. Companies that wanted to get into cloud computing early didn't want to wait until their staff got caught up to speed. They chose instead to outsource cloud computing skills to consulting companies that had technical people on the cutting edge.
The second reason managers look to outsourcing as opposed to training in-house staff is the concern that once an employee is trained with a hot new skill, he or she will immediately look for greener pastures and leave the organization, which doesn't get to use the skills it paid for. This goes back to the lack of trust between IT employees and their employers. It's also one of the factors contributing to the supposed tech skills gap we've been hearing a great deal about lately.
While all of this is great news for highly trained consultants who are in high demand, it spells disaster for companies and their employees. Outsourcing can be great when added manpower and knowledge is required in a pinch, but it shouldn't be thought of as a long-term solution. In the end, external consultants move on to their next project and leave the organization with a brain-drain. Instead, the real solution would be to proactively train your employees and be continuously evaluating their value to the company. If you're training your employees with skills that are in high demand, it makes sense that you would have to pay them more in order to keep them.
The days of annual salary reviews are over, and instead a much more dynamic method should be put in place. Your employees will appreciate both the skills training and monetary recognition when it is determined that they offer added value to the company. This, in turn, will rebuild the employee loyalty that has been lacking in IT for so long. And while it sounds expensive, in many cases, it will likely end up being cheaper and more efficient in the long run to have a well-trained and loyal staff. I believe that profit can be made through loyalty; we just need to create an environment that encourages it.