<i>Now</i> Your Boss Wants You to Stick Around

A majority of CIOs are offering training, flexible schedules and other goodies in order to retain their best talent, according to a new study.

In a survey released March 29 by Robert Half Technology, CIOs were asked, "What steps, if any, is your firm taking to retain key IT talent?"

Allowing for multiple responses, a majority of 63 percent said they provided professional training and development, while 47 percent said they offer flexible schedules.

"Retention plans have never been in at the forefront of CIOs priorities, which have been cost-cutting and cost-saving. Now theyre looking at the back end, too: a renewed awareness of the value of retention," said Melissa Maffettone, branch manager for Robert Half Technology, based in Menlo Park, Calif.

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In addition to skills training and telecommuting options, many CIOs said use compensation strategies to retain their IT workers. 41 percent said they increase base compensation, 31 percent offer bonuses and 9 percent offer equity incentives.

"When you look at the results, theyre fairly simple, cost-effective ways to retain employees. Training and development benefits both the candidate and the company. Telecommuting is also fairly cost-effective," Maffettone said.

While 23 percent of polled CIOs said they were taking no steps to retain their employees, Maffettone said that in her experience, this number seems to have come down, as shes seen an increased awareness of the value of retention.

"When you look at everything—candidates that have strong technical expertise, communication skills and business savviness—this is a shrinking candidate pool due to mainly to shifts in the marketplace," Maffettone said. "Baby boomers are beginning to retire or shift into consulting roles; theres been evidence that fewer people graduated and moved into IT positions, and some even left during the downturn.

"The ones that are left are moving; theyre looking for the companies that will give them flexible schedules and [that have] evaluated their compensation plan. As for those younger in their careers, there is a value that they put on their training that the baby boomers do not."

RHT conducted a previous retention-focused study in July 2004, asking CIOs if they considered retention of IT employees more or less important as the economy improved. 58 percent responded that keeping their best people was more critical.

The study released March 29 polled 1,400 CIOs from a random sampling of U.S. companies with 100 or more employees, and is RHTs first to focus on retention tactics.

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