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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David Wagner   Loyalty & the IT Skills Gap   3/21/2012 12:27:16 PM
Why are Consultants More Highly Trained?
The premise of the article is that when an enterprise is missing a skill, instead of cultivating that skill in-house, they find a contractor or consultant with that skill.

So, let's ask ourselves a simple question-- why is it easier to find someone with the skills who will work as a contractor or consultant?

Could it be something as simple as the way we source contractors versus in-house talent? With the exception of high-level positions where head hunters are used, full-time job searching is relatively passive. On the other hand, when you look for a consultant or contractor, it is an active search. You seek the firm or individual with the skill rather than wait for the right resume to come in.

Maybe we just need to rethink the way we source talent in the enterprise.
eethtworkz   Loyalty & the IT Skills Gap   3/21/2012 12:20:04 PM
Re: Only as loyal as the master allows
David,

As they say-We can always Hope!

Ashish.
eethtworkz   Loyalty & the IT Skills Gap   3/21/2012 12:19:45 PM
Re: loyalty and IT skills
Masood,

IT is a Support function in most Businesses today.

That is unmistakable.

But whether there are perks and benefits for IT people in most organizations is another issue.

After all,most Companies don't discriminate against IT per se(Hes in IT so he should be denied access to Perks and Benefits).

Its more a Company Culture thing.

Ashish.
David Wagner   Loyalty & the IT Skills Gap   3/21/2012 12:15:20 PM
Re: Only as loyal as the master allows
Better option is to starve the beast known as Govt by denying it funds in the first place.

As people have been discovering for centuries, that's pretty tough to do when they make the rules and they control the money. I'm all for what you're saying in theory, but I don't want to cut off my nose to spite my face.

eethtworkz   Loyalty & the IT Skills Gap   3/21/2012 11:09:55 AM
Re: loyalty and IT skills
Taimoor,

Do you feel this is ignored by the IT Folks(basically IT Department doesnt pay any attention to whether those perks exist or not) or,whether IT is part of a wider organizational culture where nobody is interested in taking care of employees?

I personally don't think thats the case even today.

Yes,There is some level of disinterest in what all kinds of support an organization provides but that has more to do with the Fast Food culture we live in today.

Everything needs to be done and taken care of super-fast.

What do u think?

Regards

Ashish.
sohaibmasood   Loyalty & the IT Skills Gap   3/21/2012 9:10:41 AM
Re: loyalty and IT skills
@Taimoor: I agree, unless you work for a firm whose primary business comes from IT. Employee benefits and perks are usually ignored and IT is just thought of as a support function to the core business functions. 

 
Taimoor Zubair   Loyalty & the IT Skills Gap   3/21/2012 6:31:46 AM
Re: loyalty and IT skills
I agree that employee benefits and other "perks" play an important role in creating employee loyalty and maintaining employee retention. In many organizations, I've seen that this is greatly ignored especially for the IT folks.
Taimoor Zubair   Loyalty & the IT Skills Gap   3/21/2012 6:28:40 AM
Outsourcing
In my company we do have a lot of outsourced employees in the IT department. Most of these are on the lower levels and involved in support and networks. One of the reason why the company prefers to have them outsourced instead of hiring them on their payroll is the fact that the company has a policy whereby they cannot layoff any permanent employee. Hence, because the support staff may have to be laid off based on the need, the company prefers to have them as outsourced employees.


eethtworkz   Loyalty & the IT Skills Gap   3/21/2012 3:59:50 AM
Re: Emplyee loyalty
Gigi,

As Andrew rightly points out.

It cuts both ways.

Employers and Employees have both got to show interest in this for it to happen.

Ashish.
Gigi   Loyalty & the IT Skills Gap   3/21/2012 3:48:43 AM
Gigi
Emplyee loyalty


Andrew, you are right. Now a day's most of the employs doesn't exhibit any sort of loyalty either to the employer or colleagues.  They work for a certain time and the switched to the new company, because of better offerings. First of all in IT sector there won't be enough free time for other activities like cultural programs or family get-together, where the bonding happens. So while joining the new company itself, he may plan for the next jump and this made them to keep a distance from both the employer and management.
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