The biggest IT engagement mistakes you can make

What are the biggest mistakes that employers make with respect to keeping IT staffers engaged?

One of the major shortfalls we see is that employers are placing too much emphasis on programmatic or tangible rewards. Organizations need to understand that programmatic factors like bonuses and stock options have a big impact when recruiting people. But when it comes to engaging and retaining IT workers, organizations sometimes place too much emphasis on these factors and not enough on relationship management techniques.

What are some techniques that work?

I was talking with folks at a major Silicon Valley organization the other day, and one of the things we both emphasize is career mobility. People want to be challenged and work for an organization that innovates; they want mobility, and they want novelty. Organizations that encourage innovation have a leg up. Meanwhile, the No. 1 retention driver is, “My manager inspires enthusiasm for work.” IT professionals want to work on an engaging local team that has a lot of energy.

What steps can IT managers take to reassure staffers about their roles in light of the current economy?

The only thing that keeps an IT job safe is the extent to which it contributes to business strategy. Whether they’re supporting a service culture where customer service is critical or a manufacturing environment where cost management is critical, IT people can contribute to preserving their own jobs. Innovation is also key. The more they get away from maintenance-type activities, the more power they have over their own fate.

What are some best practices in recruiting IT professionals?

What we find through multiple surveys that have been conducted on this topic is that the No. 1 attraction driver in IT globally is competitive pay. No. 2 is interesting work.

If you read the top 10 reasons for working at Google on their Web site, [the emphasis is on it being] fun and engaging. Compensation is the fifth element [listed]. The list focuses on the company’s culture and the opportunity to work with other talented folks. They’re saying, “Come here. You’ll work with great people and do really interesting things, and by the way, you’ll make good money along the way.”

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