Whether you're in hospitality or healthcare, these days, every company is a tech company. No business can run without technical professionals to keep the computers in good working order. Trained computer support technicians and PC repair technicians are valuable, and hard to keep.  

Most employers face a double threat when it comes to hiring and keeping middle-skills tech workers. Not only do you have to contend with the talent gap, but you're also competing with many other companies across different industries.

The result is that businesses find themselves trapped in a never-ending hiring mode. No sooner do they onboard one employee then another has to be recruited and hired. It's an expensive and time consuming process that can take a toll on even the most vibrant business. Fortunately, there is a way out.

By focusing on employee satisfaction and adjusting their expectations around hiring, companies can set themselves free of the hiring cycle treadmill.

The Scope of the Problem

The tech industry is notorious for high turnover rates and the problem is getting worse according to the Harvey Nash/KPMG CIO survey. Last year 59% of IT employers said that inability to hire the people they need is hurting the industry. This year the number was 65%.

The struggle is worse in some sectors than in others. The field of internet security is growing rapidly and employers struggle to find well-trained staff to fill those roles. A survey of cybersecurity professionals found that the talent gap not only increases workload on existing staff, it also forces staff to spend too much time on high-priority issues and not enough time on planning, training or strategy.

A high demand for tech workers leads skilled technicians to keep changing jobs in exchange for bigger paychecks. With the technology industry still booming, demand isn't likely to fall anytime soon.

That's bad news for staffing firms and employers across all industries, because almost every business relies on tech to keep running. Without skilled tech workers the computers break down and your whole business is not far behind.

At the same time, replacing tech employees is expensive. Keeping job boards updated, sifting through applications and conducting interviews takes time away from other work.

What's worse, every day the position remains open productivity is lost. The interview process for internet and tech jobs takes up to a full day longer than the already 23.8 day U.S. average interview process, according to a Glassdoor survey. It's no wonder that replacing a worker gets expensive.

According to Employee Benefit News, replacing a worker costs employers about 33% of that worker's annual salary. Based on the Bureau of Labor Statistics data on average salaries, companies can expect to pay $15,843 to replace a computer support specialist. And that's the low end of the salary spectrum in tech.

What Companies Can Do

Boosting employee retention is the obvious solution to reducing the time and money spent replacing lost employees. What's less obvious are the specific strategies that will convince tech employees to stay longer.

Higher compensation is one method, but that puts you in constant competition with the multi-billion dollar tech giants. Since you can't match their budgets you'll always be losing employees.

A more attainable strategy is to make your company a place where employees love to work and feel valued. Job satisfaction breeds loyalty and loyal employees are more likely to stay for the long haul.

If you want happy employees, you need to give them opportunities for growth. According to research by the Conference Board 30.8 % of US workers name educational and job training programs among the five elements that they are least satisfied with at work.

IT workers value education and development opportunities even more than workers in other industries do. With tech in a state of constant development, 25% fear that their skills will become obsolete. As a result, 53% of technical employees put more resources for training and professional development at the top of their wish list and 48% want more career advancement opportunities.

CompTIA has found that most IT professionals don't think their employers do a very good job of providing education and development opportunities. That means companies can stand out by offering tuition assistance programs, accessible training opportunities, and a robust workforce development program.

You don't have to be a tech giant to keep tech employees engaged, you just have to show that you value them and want them to succeed. Training and development opportunities send this message loud and clear.

Employee typing

Closing the Skills Gap

Making your current employees happy is only half the battle. It keeps the employees you already have, but it doesn't address the skills gap, which is hitting the tech industry hard. According to a study by Burning Glass Technologies, the demand for information technology workers exceeds the supply by 17%.

It gets worse. Many applicants who want to work in tech don't have the qualifications to actually get a job. Lacking the correct technical skills is the number one reason applicants don't get hired, according to a survey of industry hiring managers and workers.

If your business wants to close the gap and find effective employees, you can start by changing the way you assess job applicants. Middle skills tech employees without the cutting edge skills may come to you looking for a job with less skills requirements that still falls within their area of interest.

Don't sabotage your candidate search by requiring work experience. If you take the chance on someone with a great attitude and a desire to learn, you can train them to have the skills you need. Otherwise, you're missing out on a huge potential talent pool.

Requiring an applicant to have a degree also imposes unnecessary restrictions on your applicant pool. Many job postings target employees who hold at least a bachelor's degree despite the fact that most employers think that college degrees don't adequately prepare students for the workforce.

Instead of asking job applicants to come prepared with an outdated laundry list of required skills and education, why not hire employees with the right character and then teach them the skills?

Training new hires turns people with great potential into valuable employees. Consider introducing these three strategies to expand your talent pool:

Apprenticeship programs - You might be used to hearing about apprenticeships in connection with plumbing, electrical work or other hands-on trades, but might an apprenticeship program work for your tech company? A customized apprenticeship program lets you build a team that has the exact skills you need by training them on the job.  

Tuition Assistance - Help your employees prepare for new and bigger responsibilities by giving them the funds to advance their education. Flexible, online options let employees study in their off hours while still working full-time.  As a bonus, employees feel valued and supported when their employer helps them access educational opportunities.

Microcredentials - Some employees don't need a degree, they just need a few key skills required for the job. Microcredentials are targeted training options that let each employee focus on the specific skills they need to succeed.

How to Get Started

Penn Foster can help your business escape the always in hiring mode cycle with customized training solutions. Contact us today to start building a unique plan for your tech company.