Internet-based tool helps companies retain skilled workers

Retaining high-tech talent may soon become easier, or at least better understood, thanks to a new Talent Retention Mapping (TRM) tool.

CATA Alliance, in partnership with KPMG Consulting and In-Touch Survey Systems, has launched the TRM business tool to assist enterprises in retaining high-tech workers and identifying the issues that are important to them.

“It’s an on-line, real-time, Internet-based tool designed to help organizations measure critical employee-retention factors,” said Kathy Herties, manager of the career consulting practice at Ottawa-based KPMG.

“But most important is the fact that it’s a benchmarking tool so that participating companies can compare their retention performance to other companies in their sector.”

The on-line survey questionnaire allows employees to rate various aspects of their company, including job satisfaction and the likelihood of remaining with the company.

As employees complete the questionnaire, overall results are made available instantly and in real-time to the employer. Results are then compared to other companies participating in the service, and confidentiality is ensured as the names of participating companies do not accompany their ranking.

TRM is the result of a 1998 high-tech attraction and retention study performed by KPMG and CATA and completed by 1,200 workers.

“What came out was the most important factor to high-tech workers, when they are selecting companies to work for or when they make a decision to leave, …had nothing to do with compensation,” Herties said. Rather, they were seeking a challenging work environment, exposure to new technologies and training opportunities.

Many of the workers surveyed indicated they were not satisfied with their current job situation. So much so, in fact, that numerous employees said they were likely to leave their current employer within the next two years.

According to John Reid, president of the CATA Alliance in Ottawa, the issue of a highly-mobile workforce necessitates a tool such as TRM.

“If you understand what makes them stick then you can critically look at what you have and influence that two-year roll over because you want to keep your talent pool longer than that,” Reid said.

Peter Andrews, president of Ottawa-based In-Touch Survey Systems, whose software tools enable the real-time environment, said TRM not only cuts down on time spent administering the survey, but identifies immediately the issues that companies need to address.

“One of the issues around employee retention is getting feedback from your employees quickly. The dynamics of the marketplace are changing so quickly you need to understand what your employees are thinking as soon after the study has been completed as possible,” Andrews said.

Paper-based studies are usually sent to employees, completed, collected and then entered into a database, he explained, so “by the time it’s analysed two or three months go by and the issues could have changed dramatically.

“With our concept, the survey is designed to run over a two-week period and they can look at the results on an on-going basis at any time over the two weeks…(companies) would have a complete data set for their company that would already be compared to other companies participating in the study.”

TRM is purchased on an annual subscription basis with two surveys taken during the 12-month period. Herties said this approach allows companies to examine the first set of results, put measures in place, re-test in six months and measure the difference.

According to Herties, the tool provides a good return on investment because companies get an in-depth picture of their people and can work on retaining them rather than going through the costly process of re-hiring.

And according to Reid, it is the industry’s responsibility to better manage the work environment for employees. A simple, communicative tool such as TRM can decipher what is and is not attractive to high tech workers.

He explained, “this tool really is very much corporate-based, allowing them to be more plugged in to what’s happening within their own corporate culture…we’re really encouraging people to make changes so the corporations have a role, the governments have a role with certain regulatory matters, and CATA as an organization has a role in terms of catalyzing the whole equation.”

The cost of TRM depends upon the organization’s size and ranges in price from $7,500 to $25,000.

For more information on TRM, companies should visit the CATA Web site at