Chema Sánchez confesses that the high staff turnover in the company he runs causes him “extreme stress.” Sanchez is the CEO of Prodware, a consultancy with more than 300 professionals on staff and that implements Microsoft management solutions for clients. It also markets Microsoft 365 (formerly Office 365) and Azure cloud services. “You have the feeling that nothing you do is enough,” she admits.
His restlessness is shared by many managers of technology companies who see as every other day they also have to say goodbye to professionals who leave for the competition attracted by better wages and conditions. Or that they are tempted by foreign companies that allow them to work from sunny Spain, but with remuneration that can double or triple what is usual in this country.
Sánchez says that many companies like his have had to deal with turnover rates by 25% or 30% in the last times. “This is outrageous because it means that more or less a quarter of the workforce is renewed every year.” For the manager, the year 2021 was simply “terrifying”: “We are now 324 people and that year we had a turnover of even more than 30%. Although 2022 has gone better, with a turnover of 20%, which is still a rate very high”.
10 years TELEWORKING_ the BEST, the WORST and the TRICKS
a structural problem
Since the pandemic broke out, many companies in many sectors around the world have had difficulty retaining employees and providing normal customer service. The anxiety generated by Covid-19 led many people to rethink their daily lives and question the central place that work occupies in it. It was the great resignation, or, as it has been called in English, the great resignation or big quit.
In the technology sector, the problems are more structural and come from before. There is much more job offer than people to cover it. Pedro Montarelo was director of the historic Sun Microsystems, and for a decade it has been helping technology companies find technical profiles. In that time it has placed more than 1,000 professionals. Montarelo says that things changed “radically” and got worse a decade ago. Above all due to a higher-than-normal difference between the demand for and supply of talent, to which the opening of R&D centers and technology hubs in this country has contributed.
Montalero believes that there has always been a high turnover in junior profiles, that of those who finish their degree or FP and join a company, learn a little and seek a salary increase in the competition. But he also acknowledges that later, when employees look for other things, like social benefits, that turnover is usually lower.
It is estimated that there are currently millions of computer scientists missing in the world to meet the needs of companies that are embarking on an accelerated wave of digitization. In Spain, and according to data from the employers’ association DigitalES from May of last year, there were 120,000 vacancies in the national technological sector. The vast majority (40,000) related to software development, but also many related to systems and data center management (25,000) and cybersecurity (24,000).
These large numbers have their translation at the micro level. “Almost all professionals receive offers and attacks through LinkedIn continuously from competing firms. This produces salary inflation. In addition, work in technology is stressful because many times it deals with critical projects. And for the employee it is sometimes tempting to do so. which we call resetting e-mail to zero. That is, getting out of the problems you’re in and starting from scratch somewhere else,” says Sánchez.
There is also the collateral problem for employees that, in the midst of this dance, professionals who are committed to staying have “the feeling of feeling foolish if they stay. Many people have the impression that they can grow faster by changing companies than by progressing in their organizations.
We have new priorities
Montarelo considers that the highest turnover occurs in the consultancies that are dedicated to the so-called bodyshopping, that is, the transfer of professionals to final companies to carry out very diverse and changing projects and tasks. “People don’t like to work for subcontractors, but for the end customer, or for consultancies that offer them interesting projects and career development,” he explains. In addition, the fact that some companies are forcing their employees to return to face-to-face work after the pandemic is causing many professionals to move in search of more flexible hours.
According to the Joppy programmer placement platform, which has more than 45,000 subscribed professionals, the average duration of an employee in a company is 1.7 years. Pedro Montarelo increases this interval and places it between four and five years. In this scenario, the benefits preferred by professionals no longer have so much to do with compensation, but rather with flexibility, working remotely most of the time or having a personalized schedule.
And employers are aware of this, putting these issues before other more traditional ones in their offers, such as family benefits (in the form of childcare or baby vouchers), restaurant tickets or gym fees.
Montarelo believes that the pandemic has marked a before and after in the demands of professionals: “Before Covid-19, the first thing a candidate asked when we contacted him was the salary range for the position we offered him. But now he is The first thing they ask is about the teleworking conditions, then about the project and the technologies, and finally about the salary range. In many cases, if they are not offered 100 percent teleworking, they refuse to enter the selection process.”
However, this expert adds that this situation will be circumstantial and that hybrid schemes will most likely be imposed, where teleworking and commuting to an office will coexist.
In recent months there has been a lot of news with template settings in big tech that have affected tens of thousands of professionals. After a few years of a pandemic in which technology companies hired like there was no tomorrow, now they have to stop and go back part of the way. Microsoft, Salesforce, Meta, Google, Amazon… Almost none have escaped.
It is therefore difficult to know what will happen in the technological labor market in the coming months and years, but everything indicates that the lack of professionals will continue to be a headache for companies despite everything. According to Joppy, almost 40% of the companies will continue with their planned hiring plan and only 22% will put the brakes on and hire less staff than expected.
Recipes to attract and retain talent
Prosperity Digital, a placement firm that in the last 20 years has helped more than 6,000 computer scientists find work in Europe, confirms that, on average, professionals in the sector spend less than two years in the same position. But Gary Mullan, CEO of the company, says there are recipes for companies to retain digital talent and avoid the ordeal of managing a workforce that never quite settles.
Mullan insists on offering a flexible work model, which does not necessarily mean “transforming the office into a totally remote space, but rather giving the worker flexibility so that they can choose the most appropriate model to find the perfect balance between work and personal life”.
Montarelo, for his part, is clear about it: “Companies that offer good teleworking conditions and good salaries are suffering less than the rest when it comes to hiring and retaining talent.” It is also proving very effective in attracting professionals offering a continuous shift all year round (from 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., or similar), extra days of vacation (to celebrate birthdays, for example), a bonus for remaining in the company or participation in events and technological training without consuming days of vacation.
According to him, employers should offer their employees a career plan linked to interesting projects and technologies, and not to repetitive activities and obsolete systems. This means designing with him the tasks and projects he will embark on, and the salary update and growth forecasts he will have in the medium term.
He also recommends Gary Mullan to design a good employer branding, that is, a good brand as an employer. “The goal is to highlight the value of working at the company, both for existing and potential employees.” On a day-to-day basis, it means offering attractive welcome packs, team building outings, time for personal use beyond the holidays, etc.
For Sánchez, the lack of talent is a fundamental problem to which companies must respond with imaginative solutions. “At Prodware we have improved the employ experience. We created a program, called Joy, to improve internal processes, but also for people to have a good time. But it is not enough. Now we are trying to improve the feeling of engagement or commitment to the organization In fact, in human resources and marketing we have professionals dedicated specifically to this task.”
And he adds: “I think that employees should feel protected at a time as turbulent as the one we are experiencing. It is essential to have glue with people. This is about people, from day to day, to understand each other, to have empathy and closeness And we started to notice the results.”
Imagen: Arlington Research
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