Main image of article The Salary Strategy

If I’ve learned one thing over the years working as a developer myself and then managing a technology team of my own, it’s that technology professionals expect a combination of incentives to stay motivated. I also know the tech community is a vocal one. Combine those two things and you have a recipe for an open and spirited conversation about salary and satisfaction among tech talent. Dice_SalarySurvey_Cover_2014 The full 2014 Dice Salary Survey Report is available for download and includes lists of top paying skills and geographies. The annual Dice Salary Survey revealed a startling truth for employers: while many tech professionals received a raise, they were more dissatisfied with pay. Many employers are putting more heft behind their commitments to keep technology professionals. However, I don’t see enough employers putting their incentives together in a manner that truly communicates why talent with specific skills will thrive at their organizations. Forbes explained why human resource leaders will need to think carefully about the packages they offer technology professionals:

“I.T. pros know that their talents and skills are in demand. Sixty-five percent of respondents say they’re confident they’ll find a new, better position if they choose to look. Employers should keep that in mind, especially because only 54% of tech workers say they’re satisfied with their salaries, down from 57% in the previous year.”

While some companies may try to combat this slipping satisfaction with across the board pay increases for technology professionals, a more efficient and effective solution is to evaluate the mix of incentives you offer. Computerworld detailed out a few retention levers currently being pulled:

“Employers realize tech talent is coveted and are attempting to keep workers satisfied by offering them a variety of incentives, the survey found. In 2013, 66 percent of employers provided incentives to retain workers. The two most popular incentives were increased compensation and more interesting work. Incentives that allow employees to better balance their work and personal lives were also offered, such as telecommuting and a flexible work schedule.”Incetives Puzzle

Here are four tips I can offer to put together the right mix of incentives, including salary, to attract and retain the technology professionals with hot skills: 1. Introduce the product roadmap  — Most tech pros want to work with hot new technologies and add their two cents to the technologies of tomorrow.  The product roadmap helps set expectations for technology professionals who are looking to work with specific technologies. The roadmap also allows professionals to map out their career. For example, based on what products are on tap, a Java developer could become a Hadoop (big data) developer. 2. Communicate your organization’s technology “moon shot” — President Kennedy galvanized a nation around the goal of getting to the moon. Tech pros want to know they are working toward a “moon shot” goal.  The goal does not need to be world changing, but it should show what everyone is working towards. 3. Share your view on work/life balance — Don’t just have a view, vocalize it.  Speak to your new candidates, your veteran tech pros and everyone in between about simultaneously achieving professional and personal growth. 4. Make priorities based on skills — We all deal with limited budgets. Priorities have to be made. Assess the ROI of the skills you are looking for in the same way you assess the ROI of projects. Let’s help each other. What broad category of incentives do you think should be more heavily weighted in packages or communications to technology talent?