Is there a difference between recession-era thinking and recovery-era thinking for IT? That was the question posed last night to members of the Boston chapter of SIM (where the percentage of the 100 people in attendance introducing themselves as “in transition” probably exceeded the unemployment rate). But the biggest challenge that people saw ahead? IT staff retention.
The good news is that budget cutbacks have taught many IT teams how to prioritize, work smarter and find creative solutions to problems they don’t have money to fix. The bad news is that companies that aren’t thinking ahead may see these teams splinter apart through attrition. Those that cut training budgets and don’t restore them in time to invest in their people, for example, won’t be in a good position to retain staff once the economy stabilizes and jumping ship doesn’t seem like such a huge risk.
It wasn’t clear how many organizations could find themselves in that position. Some members mentioned preventative measures under way, such as one company that was hiring at pre-recession salary rates in the hope that new staff would stay beyond a short stint. But for all those still coping with tight resources and few extra benefits, there is probably still time to figure out some IT staff retention measures — by most accounts, the economic recovery will be slow and cautious, and the IT jobs turnaround has just barely begun. (Foote Partners notes that U.S. labor statistics show IT-related job growth of 1,400 jobs since July, with 32,600 IT jobs lost in the first seven months of the year.)