Retaining Technical Talent in Marketplace Instability

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In times of instability and disruption, it is critical to retain vital technical resources and ensure they remain engaged and supported. 

Amid the global coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis and the subsequent disruption to daily business operations, it is important for companies to consider how and why they should retain their technical talent. In recent years, the imbalance in supply and demand for niche skills such as Java developers, data analytics architects, and machine learning engineers has made it difficult for employers to hire the resources required for their technical initiatives. Now, it is more critical than ever to retain those vital technical resources, ensuring they remain satisfied, engaged, and supported in their roles through a time of insecurity and instability.

Now, it is more critical than ever to retain those vital technical resources, ensuring they remain satisfied, engaged, and supported in their roles through a time of insecurity and instability.

Niche Talent Continues to be Vital

Cutting costs may be the natural immediate reaction during market disruption, but the need for high-level technical talent will continue long after the market stabilizes. Companies who let go of key technical resources now will find themselves investing significant time and money to replace them later, repeating a painstaking process that will only hinder their progress further. The instability that comes with a disruption to the business landscape will inevitably normalize again, and companies around the world will be looking to get back on track and make up for lost time. Those lacking the niche technical resources with the talent to drive their projects forward will find themselves behind the curve.

Aside from being further behind on goals and initiatives, starting from scratch to hire new technical talent will harm companies’ bottom lines. Overhead costs such as recruiting, onboarding, and training processes compound together with the time it takes to identify required talent, driving the cost of replacing niche resources. Possibly more impactful is the institutional knowledge loss that happens with employee turnover. According to HR Daily Advisor, an average of 42% of the skills required to do a job are known only to the person currently in that position. Every time a key team member with niche technical skills leaves, the collective knowledge and expertise of the organization is reduced significantly, making it more lucrative for companies to retain their skilled technical resources through periods of instability.

Prioritize Employee Well-Being

For companies that have decided to maintain key technical talent through the crisis, the focus then shifts to how to keep those workers satisfied, supported, and empowered during a chaotic period. The best way for companies to communicate appreciation for their employees is to prioritize their well-being, even before business continuity and revenue. Ensuring the health and safety of employees on a personal level indicates that leadership values and is truly invested in its employees, thus improving job satisfaction. In fact, resources who feel valued are more likely to perform better and remain engaged, according to a survey by the American Psychological Association (APA). If staying home will promote employee health and safety, businesses should consider remote work whenever possible to provide increased flexibility in already challenging times.

With the help of technological advancements that streamline video chatting and virtual meetings, many technical roles can operate from home without disruption. Employees already consider remote work a significant benefit, and allowing work from home options during difficult times will further serve companies in helping to retain their top talent. Those who permit it will reap a multitude of benefits of having a remote workforce during times of instability, including increased job satisfaction of employees who realize they are trusted and provided opportunity in their current role. Additionally, remote workers tend to be more productive, flexible, and have increased availability throughout the day.

If operating with a remote workforce during times of business disruption, companies should take measures to ensure their technical talent remains engaged and satisfied through the work from home period. First, managers should confirm their workforce has the infrastructure to support remote work and that every employee has full access within the scope of their role. Communicate often to ensure day-to-day operations are running smoothly, enable employees with the virtual check-ins they need to be successful, and celebrate successes so that team members stay aware of the value they are contributing. By empowering employees with remote access and protecting their health and safety, employers can help retain their valuable technical talent through and beyond periods of instability and disruption.