IT Staff Retention Tips For 2010

In the latest of a series of podcasts, UK Editor of CIO magazine, Mark Chillingworth was joined by John Whiting of Harvey Nash CIO Practice, and Arts Council CIO Owen Powell to discuss staff retention in 2010. Along with top tips on how to motivate and reward IT staff in difficult times, the CIOs discussed the importance of developing high quality staff through training.

Although there is increased pressure to cut budgets during tough economic times, enlightened CIOs are realising the importance of retaining good staff. Powell says, "High quality staff can always get jobs and I think it's these people we need to concentrate on. We need to keep them involved and engaged."

The role of training is also vital in retaining IT staff. Many employees regard training as more important than money. Whiting says, "Development plans should be put into place, because that is more important to people in the IT space than money is. Money tends to be a very short-term motivator and long-term de-motivator. IT people in particular see themselves as being change agents and really value the development more than anything else so I'd much rather that CIOs are continuing to invest time if not money into the development of their people."

Ensuring that employees are working on interesting projects is another top tip. Powell says, "It's about giving people enough interesting work and interesting projects. Technical people especially like to be working on the newest and the greatest technologies, and you have to allow for that."

Whilst keeping your employees happy in the workplace is extremely important, getting people out of the office and away from computer screens can improve people's creativity. Powell explains why days out can get people's imaginations fired up, he says, "In the Arts Council, we tend to go to an artistic exhibition, we spend a day out, see some art. You're taking employees right away from IT and making them realise why they're working for the Arts Council."

IT staff with softer skills are also a key asset. Powell says, "In the modern world we have to try and exploit those softer skills." As IT people become more senior within an organisation, it becomes less and less about technology and it's more and more about the softer skills. Whiting says, "The people, who can make that transition, will be the ones that add more value to an organisation and that's what people really need to be thinking about."