Half of tech professionals set to change jobs in 2020.

Retention increases in Tech companies with a ‘high social purpose’.

Findings from The Harvey Nash Tech Survey 2020 have found two thirds of tech professionals are happy in their work – but despite this half expect to change role in the next twelve months. They cite pay (59 per cent) and work/life balance (40 per cent) as the most attractive draws to a new role. The survey is based on over 2,000 tech professionals globally and the findings underline the skills challenge that businesses will face this year if they are to keep and attract the best tech talent.

However, the accompanying report reveals that there are two areas where Tech companies can have a significant influence in improving staff retention:

  1. Having a social purpose – Only 40 per cent of workers for ‘high social purpose’ organisations expect to move in a year, while for the rest this increases to 56 per cent.
  2. Skills training – Offering ongoing training to employees not only supports the business, it helps in staff retention, with almost a quarter (23 per cent) of tech professionals stating that they left their last job for greater opportunities for training and personal development elsewhere. Almost three in ten tech professionals expect their current skills to be out of date within three years, rising to six in ten within six years.
  3. Good line management – the most common reason cited for leaving a job is because of better career prospects elsewhere (51 per cent). However, the second highest reason is an individual’s boss (36 per cent). Clearly, having good line management and a boss that an individual respects/gets on with can make a significant difference to retention.

“In today’s digital economy, there is fierce competition for tech skills – with retention being as much of an issue for companies as attracting new talent,” says Beverley White, CEO of Harvey Nash. “Whilst there is no silver bullet to keeping prized tech staff, our research highlights where companies can make a significant difference.

“Training and skills development perhaps speaks for itself – but social purpose is quite subtle,” she continues. “Only one in ten tech professionals consider social purpose as one of their top three factors in choosing a job – with pay and work/life balance valued much more highly and widely. However, far fewer tech professionals working for organisations with a ‘high social purpose’ expect to change jobs in the next twelve months than those working elsewhere, and three quarters of respondents say that the issue does matter to them at some level. Gender plays an important role too, with women 50 per cent more likely to value social purpose as critical in choosing a job. In short, having a clear social purpose is not only good in itself but plays an important part in the retention and attraction mix for tech businesses.

“When you consider that hiring and opportunity costs can amount to tens of thousands of pounds per individual, understanding and acting on these influencing factors can make a huge difference to the bottom line,” she says.

When it comes to replacing IT staff, tech companies may want to look outside of the sector for talent that they retrain into positions in the industry – as the survey found that over a third of technologists presently working in the sector came from outside. In the case of Business Analysis and Business Intelligence this rises to almost half, and even in highly technical roles like Software Engineering, almost one-fifth cross-trained.

At the same time, companies may want to shift the balance of their permanent and flexible labour, as half of respondents reported the biggest growth area in technology jobs will be in flexible, non-employed, work.

“For individuals with ability and determination, our Tech Survey paints a picture of opportunity in 2020,” says White. “Even in the most technical roles, it’s possible to carve out a successful tech career from the outside.

“Tech companies will already be considering their optimum balance of permanent and flexible staff for the year ahead – both at a global and local level. There will always be a central place for permanent workers – especially ones who are focused on core activities and developing the intellectual property of an organisation,” she continues. “However, organisations are increasingly using outsourcing and flexible labour to build scale as well as to access hard-to-find skills. It’s a shifting and intricate dynamic that organisations need to continually monitor if they are to achieve the best mix.”

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