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Connect, Inspire, Retain: Attracting & retaining IT talent

Tue 1 Nov 2011
FYI, this story is more than a year old

In the last six months alone, Infosys has hired around 300 new employees in New Zealand and Australia. We’re growing quickly… and it hasn’t been easy. We’re competing in a tight labour market to secure scarce technology talent.The situation won’t be getting easier anytime soon. Consider this:

  • Average time to hire is one-to-two months compared to less than one month in 2010 – 2011 Inside ICT survey of 200 IT employers (Potentia)
  • Salaries are returning to pre-GFC level, with employers pressured to improve offers to attract talent – 2011 New Zealand Salary Guide - ICT (Hudson)
So if employees are sitting in the driver’s seat, why are they still unhappy? Only 40% of New Zealand and Australian workers are happy, nearly half are looking for a new role in the next year – and only a third would recommend their employer (Dream Employers Survey, 2011).Attracting talent is one thing, but keeping them happy is something else again. What’s an employer to do?Keep them engagedAccording to a global Gallup survey of large companies, only a third of employees are fully engaged in their work. Almost half (49%) are not engaged, and 18% are "actively disengaged”. "World-class” companies fare better, reporting 67%, 26% and 7%, respectively.Moving an organisation into that "world-class” category takes time, focus and a multi-pronged strategy. Last year, Infosys launched an initiative called Talent Strategy 2015 that aims to get our global organisation of over 130,000 people fully engaged – and of the five critical tracks that emerged in our internal research, employee decision-making was high on the list.  For example, some 56,000 of the staff recently joined a strategy discussion, using a collective-intelligence portal. Using social networking tools, like Infosys’ own Socialedge SaaS platform, to facilitate such discussion has the advantage of tapping into the behaviours that people already enjoy in their personal lives.  But it also makes the job of engaging large and disparate labour groups easier and less expensive.A higher purpose Finding fulfilment beyond the paycheck has always been an important motivator, and you don’t need to be a poet or a social worker to feel that connecting work with a higher meaning is important for staying engaged. This is particularly true of the Gen Y talent you might be struggling to retain: among their hot buttons are meaningful work, authenticity, fun, fast access to information, experiential activity, social groups, world travel, diversity and social causes. Ninety per cent of Gen Y adults are engaged in activities to promote positive social change, according to a September 2011 study from Walden University and Harris Interactive.Paid time off for volunteering, the opportunity to apply talents to green innovation projects or simply giving staff a say in the corporate social responsibility efforts of the company might be strategies to consider. Infosys staff in the Melbourne office recently participated in "Random Hacks of Kindness” – a global initiative that brings software developers together with environmental experts to develop practical, open source solutions to problems related to natural disasters and climate change.Tomorrow’s leadersWhy is it that children from our region are far less likely to aspire to be engineers, doctors, and teachers than their Asian counterparts? If this industry and its main employers are to succeed, then the jobs we offer must capture the imagination of the next generation. Infosys, and other major industry players, must encourage more young people to pursue a career in IT and bring the best talent to clients in our region. Enterprises look to us to help them source the talent they need. We need to help our children understand that addressing issues fundamental to our quality of life-- things like time spent commuting, resources use, people diversity and inclusion-- depend on technology innovation.However, attracting the next generation of workplace new entrants requires a fresh approach that accommodates their different demands and knowledge. In many instances, they’re better at assimilating new knowledge and sharing it, putting them ahead of some more mature workers. They may also favour flexible practices, such as remote working, and perpetual skill upgrades. Acutely aware of the need to hone skill sets to remain a hot commodity in increasingly specialist fields, they’ll remain with employers who provide the training that keeps them at the forefront, or hop to new employers to cash in on skill shortages.In the end, workers are responsible for their own futures. Rather than working their way up the corporate ladder and leaving big decisions in the hands of the corporation – a scenario Lynda Gratton of the London Business School in her new book, The Shift: The Future of Work is Already Here, calls "Organisation Man” – they must work with employers to shape their own futures. Gratton calls it an "adult-adult” relationship, requiring "each one of us to take a more thoughtful, determined and energetic approach to exercising the choices available to us.”

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