Two tech professionals studying for agile certifications

In a business climate marked by lingering uncertainty over COVID-19 and ongoing concerns over supply chain disruptions and inflationary pressures, organizations view the inability to attract talent as the top emerging risk. 

A Gartner report released earlier this month found company executives are particularly concerned about their ability to deliver satisfactory value propositions to employees, leading to subsequent difficulties in hiring and retaining talent.

Changing attitudes towards work-life balance and the complications driven by demographic shifts, the “Great Resignation,” mounting levels of retirees, and the rapid proliferation of remote work cultures have all driven concerns over the risks of a poor talent strategy.

“It's a really complicated, diverse issue that's profoundly affecting enterprises in a lot of different ways,” explained Zach Ginsburg, research director in Gartner's Assurance Group, where he leads research portfolios for enterprise risk management and internal audit leaders. “In the IT space in particular, the shortages of IT talent have been a problem in many different IT domains for quite a long time.” 

The lack of an adequate talent strategy can lead to a talent and skills drain, resulting in disruption to workplace culture. “Your organizational culture or your ways of working might be damaged by constant turnover or just too many employees in a role or lacking the experience or institutional knowledge,” Ginsburg added. “If we think about the implications for company that isn’t a digitally native company, you have to think about what kind of roles and ways of working you need to alter to make that transition. That's very difficult if you're losing employees.”

While enterprise risk managers need to make their concerns about post-pandemic talent known to the C-suite and make sure they’re accounting for those risks, other indicators from the survey suggest there is a major disconnect between the risks of poor talent acquisition strategy and a recognition of the problem at the executive level. “Many of our clients believe their organizations are currently under preparing for the risks of post-pandemic era talent,” Ginsburg said. 

A Convincing Hiring Message

Josh Drew, regional manager for the greater Boston area at IT staffing and recruitment agency Robert Half Technology, said a company's ability to articulate the ‘how’ and the ‘why’ when it comes to attracting talent is more important than ever. “At the core of what we look for in our best clients is the passion regarding what the company is and the direction they're going in,” he said. 

This means clarifying mission statements, opportunities for advancement, the investment in employees, and how the employer interacts and integrates within their community.” The reality is that a company trying to replace an employee is often going to find a less qualified, more expensive option to take over.

“Apply that to an IT department,” he said. “If the company is trying to grow and hyper-scale to meet their business needs but can’t retain and develop their internal talent, they're essentially always starting over from scratch.”

From his perspective, the number-one focus for any company to grow is to have the talent and the resources to help them meet their objectives. “If there's no internal growth, you're limiting yourself as far as what you can do from an operational standpoint, which doesn't make it any easier to retain or attract talent,” he said. “If you're turning people over year over year, you're never really getting out of first gear to have that growth.”

The genesis of a well-planed hiring and talent retention strategy has to start at the top. Step one: A close look at the current hiring process. “Sometimes from our seat, we'll see clients that have their screening applications for a $200,000 position with somebody that's been in talent acquisition for three months and just graduated from college, and they're doing that off a keyword off a resume,” Drew said. “We’re trying to coach them on how they should be setting up an initial screening process.”

Prospective hires really want to feel like the organization is taking the time to show proper interest in them as an asset. “With startups or leaner organizations where there aren't these massive IT departments, the candidates want to feel they were valued and have a good insight of what the company is actually about, what the objectives and tech stacks are, and what the day-to-day work actually looks like,” Drew added. 


Charley Betzig, managing director of Heller Search Associates, suggested that companies also need to get more proactive when it comes to recruitment: “A lot of recruiting functions are great, but a lot of them are more, just kind of post and see what comes in,” he said. “I think that’s going to become a thing of the past.”

Like Drew, Betzig thinks top-level management needs to take an active stake in reforming talent acquisition policies, which includes improving value propositions by offering guarantees for work/life balance and financial packages for employees that help build wealth. 

“Companies need to figure out how they craft compensation structures, and just like benefits, offer total reward structures that will build real wealth and security for their employees,” he said. “The other thing is just growth--putting in place a good growth trajectory and building programs internally that let employees know that they're being invested in and they're building their skill sets, getting promoted regularly. That's always something of value.”