Loyalty & the IT Skills Gap

Andrew Froehlich, Network Engineer & IT Consultant | 3/20/2012 | 38 comments

Andrew Froehlich
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.

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eethtworkz   Loyalty & the IT Skills Gap   3/21/2012 3:33:07 AM
Re: Only as loyal as the master allows

In the current system of Government we have in place(where Politicians are surrounded by Paid Lobbyists );it is next to impossible to root out cronyism and Corruption.

Better option is to starve the beast known as Govt by denying it funds in the first place.

eethtworkz   Loyalty & the IT Skills Gap   3/21/2012 3:15:00 AM
Re: loyalty and IT skills

In Today's economic environment,Work-Life Balance is most definitely workable for most companies.

You may also get some support on the Time front(sabbaticals without pay) and/or access to some company resources(like Servers) for personal Projects in rarer cases.

But beyond that(and especially the amount of Support Google gives) is not do-able for most companies today.

Zaius   Loyalty & the IT Skills Gap   3/21/2012 1:29:02 AM
Re: loyalty and IT skills
Pedro you raise a huge point here. It is not about the pay. Unless a firm is really underpaying their staff, the brain drain is not for higher pay. Recognition is important and small things to the company are big things to employees. Flex time, telecommuting, child care, educational opportunities, maybe an ongoiing membership to Safaribooks or a good in house digital library, in house benefits sucvh as good food and all sorts of other considerations are what keeps employees on the farm. Higher pay does not give people more timewith their families or increase the possibl productivity of their time. Anything that enhances employee time and time spent on the job will help. Not offering training for advancement is actually one good way to lose employees.
Pedro Gonzales   Loyalty & the IT Skills Gap   3/20/2012 11:14:35 PM
loyalty and IT skills
this is a very interesting article, I have never though of the challenges companies must face in order to get employees witth the required skills they need, i agree that companies should look at their own first rather than hire someone from outside, I think also that there must be other motivation for people to be loyal to a company, other benefits such as working on your own projects such as what google does, being more understanding in regards to personal life, etc.
David Wagner   Loyalty & the IT Skills Gap   3/20/2012 5:59:55 PM
Re: Only as loyal as the master allows
I'm certainly fine with less government. But I also like investing in our future. Training someone in a good paying job usually pays for itself in taxes over time.

As for the faud and cronyism, sure it happens. But I don't stop a program because of it. I try to fight the cronyism instead.
eethtworkz   Loyalty & the IT Skills Gap   3/20/2012 5:57:12 PM
Re: Only as loyal as the master allows

This is where I have trouble agreeing with you.

In my opinion the most important we face today in America is our Debt Burden and the fact that the current policies put in place by DC are focussed only on Inflating away our Debt(rather than Growing our way out of it).

The Problem is the Government.If you decide such and such Department should do such and such training where you dig into various industries first and find out where they have skills shortage and then train them-My bet is you will see all kinds of Malinvestment and cronyism in the process.

Just like what happened with Solyandra and Ener1 under the Obama Administration.

Rather Govt should just get out of the way of Business by creating very few basic rules and regulations(regarding Environment,Worker Safety,Pay,Hours-It should not be more than a couple of pages at most) and then get out of the way.

The Less Govt we have the better.


Or we could get more incidences like the ones above...

David Wagner   Loyalty & the IT Skills Gap   3/20/2012 5:33:06 PM
Re: Only as loyal as the master allows
I would find it difficult to imagine the government funding a mentoring program. But I'd love to see the government train people in essential jobs we are outsourcing because we're having trouble finding the skills.

This isn't directly IT-related, but I've heard from several people that they simply can't fill the jobs for people who run equipment in machine shops. We simply haven't trained enough. This is the kind of thing the government should be very good at. Intervene in specific places with specific money to send willing unemployed folks to learn how to do a very good, high paying job.
eethtworkz   Loyalty & the IT Skills Gap   3/20/2012 5:27:01 PM
Re: Only as loyal as the master allows

Once again I agree.

Only thing is this-How do u get people to volunteer for this venture(without incentives of some sort)??.

You need some sort of a Carrot and Stick policy(atleast initially to forge a Starting point for a Mentorship culture) in a company where it is non-existent today.

Even in the old days not every company had  a strong mentorship culture,most just focussed on learning on the job.So how should we change this?

Do you think Govt funding here plays a role? Or is just more Taxpayer money)that we can ill-afford) thrown down the drain???



Technocrat   Loyalty & the IT Skills Gap   3/20/2012 5:10:32 PM
Re: Only as loyal as the master allows

@CMTucker    Nice to see you on the boards again my friend.  And I so completely understand and support your take on this issue of loyalty at the workplace.  You make a great point (s) about training, if you don't train the people you have - you will eventually have to train someone from practically scratch.  Does this sound prudent ?   Yet I see it over and over again, apparently companies think this is a cost they can afford, meanwhile nothing gets improved - just the status quo maintained - and then companies have the nerve to see IT as a cost center - It is a cost center because of foolhardy decisions such as this.


Compensate, Compensate, Compensate - I have never understood that suits who have no idea what IT entails are entrusted to place a value on the positions within it.  This is a very real problem and Tech professional have little recourse but to do their own thing, and charge 3x as a consultant as opposed to being a full-time employee.


I have experience this and I am sure many others have as well - I have one thing to say to businesses out there who think this is the way to go - you're wrong !   And regardless of what you think - you will have to pay sooner or later. 

CMTucker   Loyalty & the IT Skills Gap   3/20/2012 4:52:07 PM
Re: Only as loyal as the master allows
@David completely agree. I think that you have to make it available, and encourage, but not push. If people don't take advantage of it, I'm sure they have their reasons (I for one can't justify NOT taking advantage of it).

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