Technology Companies Are Behind the Talent Management Times

By Staff Report

Mar. 6, 2008

Technology and telecommunications companies employ outdated tactics for recruiting and retaining talent, according to a new report from professional services firm Deloitte.

The study of more than 150 technology and telecommunications companies in North America found that most firms in those sectors rely on financial incentives to attract and retain employees. But today’s workforce values greater freedom in schedules and control of where and how they work over financial compensation, Deloitte said in the report, released Wednesday, March 5.

“The conflicting perspectives between technology and telecommunications employers and employees suggest that the respondents are significantly challenged in how they capture their fair share of talent in the near term,” Jeffrey Alderton of Deloitte Consulting said in a statement.

The report comes amid mixed signals regarding the technology and telecommunications job market. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, U.S. payroll employment in the computer and electronic products sector dipped by 1,200 jobs from December to January, to 1.26 million. Between January 2007 and January 2008, employment in that sector fell by 35,100 jobs. In addition, payroll employment in the telecommunications sector dropped by 9,200 between January 2007 and January 2008, to 1.03 million jobs.

But payroll employment in computer systems design and related services rose by 78,500 between January 2007 and January 2008, to 1.39 million jobs.

The Deloitte survey, conducted last spring, found upbeat hiring expectations. Two-thirds of respondents expect their workforce to grow by at least 6 percent over the next 12 months, and only 6 percent expect their workforce to shrink, Deloitte said.

Even so, technology and telecommunications companies surveyed are generally less worried than companies in other industries about a prolonged global labor crisis, Deloitte said.

“This may be due to the fact that technology and telecommunications companies are considered ‘sexy’ and, therefore, have an easier time attracting talent,” Deloitte said. “It may also be attributable to their younger workforces, which are less affected by baby boomer retirements.”

In the report, Deloitte said that 71 percent of companies surveyed said they use financial rewards and incentives to attract and retain talented employees. That was by far the most-mentioned strategy. Training and development programs, cited by 48 percent of respondents, was second, followed by implementation of career growth plans, mentioned by 36 percent.

Deloitte cast the focus on financial tactics as behind the times. “Workers today aren’t as interested as they used to be in hefty compensation packages and fancy retirement plans,” Deloitte said. “What they really want—more than anything else—is direct and personal control over when, where and how they work.”

The report also argues that young “Millennial” workers aren’t the only ones interested in a significant say over their jobs. “It turns out that recent retirees who are re-entering the workforce want many of the same things as their younger counterparts,” Deloitte says. “So do ‘Gen Xers,’ although they are probably too afraid to ask.”

Many companies have taken steps in the right direction, Deloitte says.

The survey found plans to ramp up such things as mentoring and training. The next step, according to the report, “is for companies to develop such programs as mass career customization that make personalized career development a standard operating practice, rather than a one-off exercise reserved for special circumstances.”

—Ed Frauenheim

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