How to prevent IT talent-poaching

'Thank you' goes a long way; competitive pay helps, too

One concern keeping IT execs awake at night is fear of talent poaching. Among 1,400 CIOs polled in the spring by Robert Half Technology, 34% said they're concerned about losing top IT performers to other job opportunities. In the same survey, 63% of CIOs said understaffing either significantly or somewhat affects their companies' ability to implement new technologies. IT PAYDAY: How much do top CIOs make?

So what can IT departments do about it? A little thanks and public recognition can go a long way. In its newly published Salary Guide 2012, Robert Half Technology lays out four tips for keeping current IT staff happy and satisfied:

1. Know the value of 'thank you.'

2. Trust your team to do a good job.

3. Be sensitive to workload demands.

4. Pay competitively.

Some of these ideas seem obvious -- but that doesn't mean IT managers remember to do them.

Saying thank-you and acknowledging achievements is an easy (and free) way to show appreciation for a job well done. "Even small actions such as offering praise during a staff meeting or private discussion can go a long way toward making people feel valued," Robert Half Technology notes.

The staffing firm's advice about empowering IT pros to make decisions and listening to their opinions drives home its message about trust: "Most IT workers today place a premium on autonomy and the ability to make decisions. When you micromanage, you send the message to your staff that you don't believe they can do the job correctly, which can undermine morale."

Retaining top talent is critical, and failing to do so is costly. It takes an average of five weeks to hire for an open staff-level IT position, and seven weeks to hire for a management-level IT position, CIOs say.

If IT managers don't want to lose their top talent, they've got to give them a reason to stay.

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Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.