Keep morale high to retain talented staff

With the IT industry undergoing serious staff cuts as a result of the economic downturn, companies can use morale-boosting approaches to enhance staff loyalty.

According to a recruitment consultancy, companies need to focus on motivation and morale of the remaining staff when cutbacks are made; otherwise they risk losing their best staff when the market begins to pick up again.

Vincent Bailey, director, Robert Walters TriStar, said adverse economic conditions have forced many companies to make staff cuts, freeze pay rises and cut back on bonuses.

Bailey said when these measures are handled badly it results in many disheartened employees amongst the remaining staff, which leads to low morale and disillusionment with the company.

“And inevitably this results in lower productivity as well as the likelihood good employees will jump ship once another job offer comes along,” Bailey said.

It is understandable if staff motivation was low at the moment because it is the end of a very difficult year for many companies, he said.

“However, most staff understand the need, in the current economic environment, for cost cutting.

“As long as all changes are communicated effectively to staff and they are well informed then generally they accept it as unfortunate but necessary,” Bailey said.

With online job advertisements down as much as 44.4 per cent, according to Olivier Recruitment Group, and a hiring freeze across most of the industry, Bailey said equity or options in the company, as opposed to cash incentives, were contributing to a significant proportion of this year’s bonuses.

He said it is also important that companies find other non-fiscal staff incentives to ensuring morale remains high.

“These can include, for example, changing the rules about the amount of leave staff can take at any one time, offering flexible working hours, focusing on training or mentoring and keeping communication lines to senior management open at all times,” Bailey said.

According to the IT Skills Hub, an estimated 27,500 additional people will be needed in 2002 to work in core IT&T occupations and supporting roles.