11 Proven Ways to Attract & Retain Tech Talent for Associations

Emily Shine
February 8, 2022

In today’s hyper-competitive and hyper-connected world, organizations are scrambling to get people in place with the technical capabilities to support a high-growth digital backbone. As demand for crucial tech roles skyrockets and the availability of tech talent plummets, the current battle for creative and technical minds is unprecedented.

Software developers, system administrators, integration folks, and other IT talent are simply indispensable to surviving and thriving in the digital future. This has created a candidate’s market in which IT folks hold the most bargaining power and a steady pipeline of viable candidates is in high demand.

So then how can you bag in-demand techies in this competitive era? What are the best strategies to access, hire, and retain qualified, high-tech talent to power your organizational maturity?

While there’s no one-size-fits-all solution to attract tech talent and stem the high IT attrition rate, organizations that embrace practical workforce transformations have the best chance of pinning down techies over the haul.

Today, we’ll look at how you can evolve your operating model, culture, skills, relationships, and ways of working to bring in and keep top-notch tech talent. We’ll walk through each key change initiatives one by one, including remote work flexibility, seamless onboarding, upskilling, organizational culture transformations, and leadership journeys.

#1 - Leverage the Latest Technologies

The latest software and technologies serve as the new cool toy for IT talent to play with. A more modern tech stack that makes use of minimal or low code platforms and seamless APIs is highly attractive to IT talent.

Creating Challenging Work

Upgrading your systems allows you to attract tech-savvy professionals, and then give them modern tools to work with to keep them on board. An advanced application stack allows your IT staff to focus on challenging work and new innovations that lead to bragging rights.

Giving IT talent the time and freedom to design new software can elevate their status as experts in the IT community and keep them loyal to your organization.

By keeping your IT people happy, you’re also keeping stakeholders happy. Give IT the space to use affordable new technology to solve organizational challenges impeding the business and achieve exponential business goals. Doing so will go a long way to scratch their itch for challenging projects instead of keeping their work routine mundane.

Plus, allowing IT to introduce cool new tools into the application stack is a relatively inexpensive way to make the work pleasant and ensure your team feels heard and appreciated.

Reducing Technical Debt

You can also have IT work on reducing and solving technical debt issues. Traditionally, the developers have been tasked to build features to advance the business goals. They haven't gotten an opportunity to work on the technical debt, which in turn is an opportunity for working on the latest technologies.

Carving out a slice of their bandwidth to work on technical debt surely will keep the developers not only intrigued and engaged but hugely satisfied.

Leveraging Data as an Asset

Viewing data as an asset should be included in your organizational culture. Mastering data privacy, ownership, and governance should be a priority to navigate the data economy and leverage the latest AI, automation, and cloud technologies.

Automating and Streamlining 

Ensure your team has access to intuitive dashboards and machine-learning-driven insights to increase on-the-job satisfaction. Transition from disconnected best-of-breed systems to an all-in-one system to fulfill all of your membership, events, learning, and community needs. 

Use workflow automation to eliminate as many manual IT processes as possible. Less manual labor means IT staff can work more efficiently. And it means more time for rewarding activities like creating awesome member experiences. Everything from email outreach, event communications, and e-learning notifications to invoices, renewal notices, and other nitty gritty technicalities should all be automated.

Streamlining your operational processes and software development workflows is vital to IT satisfaction. Namely because it prevents burdening your IT talent with repetitive, boring tasks.

#2 - Offer Location Flexibility and Remote Work

In a world where physical location is no longer a prime asset, it’s important to rethink how your organization attracts and engages employees. This is particularly true for millennial IT talent.

Today, most millennials would rather have remote and flexible work situations rather than the promise of future upward mobility and career opportunities, be they horizontal or vertical. So ask yourself, are you engaging with your target IT audience in the best way to attract them to your organization and keep them satisfied in their role?

Remote work also may be beneficial for increasing collaboration and inclusivity, both of which are beneficial for on-the-job satisfaction. The largest IT leadership review, Harvey Nash / KPMG survey found that 70% of IT leaders say that remote working has increased collaboration between the organization and technology teams. More than half also say that the ability to work remotely contributes to a culture of inclusivity.

#3 - Nurture Talent Management and Upskilling

Training and development opportunities have long been an attractive benefit to potential new hires as a way to advance their career trajectory. It helps in-house employees augment their knowledge and competencies in-house and prevent tech talent from moving on to find a greener pasture.

And if your in-house techies do jump ship, then upskilling, cross-training, mentoring, and other in-house training opportunities helps employees qualify for whatever comes next. And during transitions, training programs and succession plans help you get the right replacements in place quickly and affordably. If they can hit the ground running, you minimize downtime from unplanned recruitment and new hire training/onboarding.

Transforming your learning programs and upskilling your workforce accordingly is a great way to advertise to potential hires your dedication to promoting from within and the long-term investment in your employees. Offering a clear technical growth path also makes your employees feel appreciated and valued, contributing to better retention. Not all techies want to follow a traditional path either. So show that there is plenty of movement within the organization as well.

Plus, talent management and training programs help you run lean, bridge the IT skills shortage affordably, and shape your workforce according to your long-term technology roadmap and organizational strategy.

If you think about it, a decent coder can become proficient in a new programming language in a matter of weeks. So it’s beneficial for both your employees and the organization. Paying for IT talent to attend tech conferences and out-of-the-box continuing education opportunities is yet another great option to quench techies third for playing with new tech all the time.

#4 - Rethink Culture and Leadership

Successful IT hiring and retention is largely about your organization’s culture and how you engage with your people. In fact, today a strong, innovative culture and IT leadership may be more crucial for engaging and retaining technology talent than good remuneration.

So outside of salary, good insurance, and flashy perks, what else can you do to attract and keep qualified engineers, technicians, computer programmers, systems analysts, and database admins?

Quick Takeaways When Rethinking Organizational Culture

Here are some key pointers to woo IT candidates to your organizational culture:

  • Create purpose: Ensure a deeper meaning in terms of the larger impact of the work.
  • Remove obstacles: Working conditions really matter. Not having to navigate obstacles at work like politics and bureaucratic nonsense is attractive to techies. Break down walls to ensure your IT team remains agile.
  • Collaboration: Ensure high degrees of collaboration and transparency with well-established processes and workflows. Allow your IT team to run new channels and initiatives as needed.
  • Autonomy and authority: Allow your team to interact with the end users. Give IT folks the support and freedom to bang out code from their place of choosing outside the office from time to time. Create an environment that allows developers to be comfortable and hyper-focused.
  • Team comradery: talented people want to work with other smart & talented people. So hire awesome people who are smart, fun to be around, and who can learn from each other.
  • Strong leadership: Engendering trust and loyalty to the organization starts with getting great leaders in place.
  • Culture of learning: Create an environment where programming talent is challenged and can thrive by learning from each other. Provide avenues for techies to participate in continuing education and industry events.
  • Prioritize internal hiring: Promoting from within and providing room for growth is very attractive to candidates. Offer opportunities for in-house junior developers to have a healthy mix of experience. Doing so also buffers internal capacity and cuts losses.
  • Public recognition: Publicly recognize the contributions your tech workers make to the success of your operations both individually and as a group. Praising and rewarding staff for their work improves motivation and incentives tech workers to stay committed.
  • Internal alignment: Optimize the internal organization of your mission, values, and leadership. 
  • Compensatory time off: Additional PTO is particularly attractive to tech workers who may have to work long, intense hours to meet project deadlines.

#5 - Prioritize Mental Health

In a world plagued by a noticeable tech worker shortage, creating an environment in which techies can flourish mentally and emotionally is critical.

84% of IT leaders are concerned about the mental health and well-being of their teams, according to the recent Harvey Nash / KPMG CIO survey. Increased isolation and uncertainty has certainly contributed to the spike in mental health concerns. And in a remote work environment, it’s difficult to detect stress levels and mental health states.

The study also found that 25% of U.S. professionals feel undervalued at work. Feeling unappreciated in turn reduces productivity, loyalty, and collaboration.

But there is some good news. There seems to be more programs in place today supporting employees' physical and emotional well-being than there were pre-pandemic.

Combating rising mental health concerns and keeping technology talent engaged, inspired, and motivated requires a rethinking of our values and priorities. Organizations and tech leaders must lay the groundwork for new support mechanisms and employee wellness initiatives. Keeping employees happy and healthy, and working hard towards the shared mission.

Start with listening. Reward and appreciate team members for their hard work towards the shared mission. And be sure to actively create and run dedicated mental health programs.

#6 - Focus on Diversity and Inclusion

Ensure your organizational culture values diversity, inclusion, and trust.

The latest Harvey Nash / KPMG CIO survey shines a light on how diverse teams promote better organizational performance. More than two-thirds of organizations feel that being diverse improves trust and collaboration. It also seems to be beneficial for skill development and innovation potential.

Yet only 24% feel that their technology team is successful at promoting diversity and inclusion (D&I) in the workplace.

Gender diversity within technology teams also remains painfully low. So hone strategies to hire more diverse techies, including women and minorities. For example, the flexible nature of remote work and distributed teams makes it easier to apply diversity and inclusion. Regardless of your "main office location."

Keeping an eye on IT talent from a much more diverse pool also widens the funnel of desirable candidates. Consider those with a wider set of capabilities as well beyond just technical skills. Look for hard workers who are teachable, customer-centric, and up to date on digital technologies and internet trends.

#7 - Optimize Onboarding & Long-Boarding

Refine your hiring and onboarding processes by hopping on the automated recruitment bandwagon and leveraging a multi-channel approach.

Use continuous process improvement to transition towards your recruitment efforts towards programmatic job advertising and automated talent mobility platforms. Automating your recruitment, hiring, and retention practices is a wonderful way to save time. It’s also a great way to leverage the power of passive recruitment.

Regardless of the high attrition rate and current Great Resignation, passive candidates are indeed out there. Passive recruiting means courting potential candidates who aren’t currently looking for a job. Oftentimes, this tech talent can add tremendous value to your team because they are not actively looking for a job. These candidates are also less likely to be interviewing with other organizations.

Consider streamlining the application process as well. Speed up the interview process by interviewing multiple candidates at once and get your offers out more quickly. And be sure to showcase your competitive advantages during the hiring process. Highlight your newly defined organizational culture and values, modern tech stack, career development opportunities, competitive compensation packages and accommodations, etc.

Also consider leveraging influencers to attract talent and sophisticated talent with the right tech skill sets and culture-fit. Creating an employee referral program is yet another great hiring and recruitment strategy. Referrals will also bolster team camaraderie and morale. And of course, dial your job ads.

#8 - Look in the Right Places

Be on the lookout for IT talent in the right places and offer the right enticements. Here are some ways to ramp up short-term or long-term capacity seamlessly:

  • Keep an eye out for tech talent perennially.
  • Engage with tech partners who can help mitigate the gap due to an unforeseen exit.
  • Engage with universities to hire talent.
  • Consider incubating talent in a neighbouring college.
  • Join IT networking groups.
  • Participate in relevant blogs or listservs.
  • Join a tech-focused bulletin board frequented by your ideal tech audience.

#9 - Outsource

Consider contracting out to a dedicated full-service consulting firm offering digital strategy, technology strategy, virtual or interim IT services, or whatever contract hires or permanent work you need. Look for an agency in your industry with the skills you need.

Be sure the third-party service or contractor you hire is the right fit and can help mature your organization and further your digital transformation journey without putting your business at risk.

It’s wise to keep a mix of permanent and contract hires so you have buffer capacity to minimize losses and potential downtime. Ideally, the makeup of your IT team and IT staffing strategy depending on the tech skills you’ll need over the next few years.

You first need to get your needs dialed and scheduled out in the short term and long term. Then align your staffing strategy with your overall IT roadmap. This internal organizational and IT alignment will allow you to hire and recruit more confidently.

#10 - Hire a “Good” IT Manager

As you know, many not-for-profits, associations, and smaller organizations don’t have the resources to hire dedicated techies. An easy solution could be hiring an inspirational, top-tier IT manager – one who asks the right questions and can make informed decisions on how to balance costs with performance investments.

Get an IT manager who you can trust to select the right IT partners. He or she should be able to oversee and work in sync with all partners. Your IT manager should be great at strategizing short- and long-term goals with your remote/flexible/part-time/temp/virtual/dedicated IT experts.

#11 - Money Talks

This list isn’t complete without good ole’ financial incentives. After all, money is the go-to way to attract and retain tech talent. Many techies today want to buy aspirational things like a Tesla Model 3 at a young age, the whole apple gadgets ecosystem, a house and more.

Revise your salary and compensation packages to ensure that it’s in a competitive market range but not atrociously exorbitant.

Conclusion: Hiring and Retaining Tech Talent

Since the wake of the pandemic, businesses have become more reliant on tech talent, making it tough to retain top talent. However, attracting, hiring and retaining the best high-tech workers is certainly achievable. It requires a strategic approach, one that includes challenging work, the latest technologies, flexible work conditions, a strong culture, and of course, good pay.

When thinking about your staffing and talent management strategy, IT leaders must consider which roles to retain and which require comprehensive succession plans and leadership development programs.

Assess the capabilities of your current staff to ensure the right mix of skills and capabilities exists within your organization for future success and digital maturity. Consider which roles and tasks can be automated and what positions and processes should be outsourced or given to a third-party managed service.

At Elastik Teams, we have the knowledge and capability to help your organization unlock the power of tech talent. Get in touch to explore the possibilities.