Job growth in the U.S. has reached its highest levels in 15 years. With economists projecting that the U.S. economy will expand between 2.5% and 3.0% over the next two years, this bodes well for continued growth in IT spending.
Indeed, global IT spending is expected to rise 3.3% in 2015, up from a 3% rate last year, according to a study of 200 worldwide organizations conducted by CEB (formerly the Corporate Executive Board).
As companies ramp up investments in IT infrastructure and business projects, many CIOs and HR professionals will be on the prowl for IT talent. According to a survey of 2,400 CIOs by Robert Half Technology, 87% of IT leaders plan to add more staff this year, whether to plug vacant positions or to fill new roles.
As the rate of growth and hiring continue to swell, this raises interesting questions – and challenges – for CIOs. For starters, while IT hiring looks bright, incumbent IT staff – many of whom have had to endure marginal pay increases for the past few years – will be anticipating salary boosts. Otherwise, they may look to greener pastures.
While pay raises are handled on a case-by-case basis, U.S. employers, on average, are planning to dole out 3% pay hikes in 2015, according to a survey of nearly 1,100 companies conducted by Towers Watson.
Forward-looking CIOs are getting out in front of these issues by offering top-performing employees attractive packages that blend a mix of financial gains and a variety of other perks.
Although compensation is critical, many employees are incented by other factors. These include opportunities to take on additional responsibilities or being assigned to challenging projects. Millenials in particular often prefer flexible work conditions, such as the ability to work remotely when possible along with adaptable work hours (e.g. starting some days later than others and tackling additional work at night). Keeping IT staff engaged and happy in their work goes a long way towards strengthening retention.
Gaining through training
Another way to improve employee engagement while gearing up for new business initiatives is by focusing on education and training. Investing in skills that employees will need both today and tomorrow demonstrates to IT staff that you’re committed to their continued development and growth. Training opportunities also demonstrates to employees that they are valued for what they bring to the organization. Meanwhile, IT professionals who sharpen their skills and are more engaged enable the organization to improve its operational and business productivity.
With IT hiring on the rise, companies find themselves in a talent war. And while the market has increasingly shifted to greater use of contact or freelance workers, high-demand skills such as security experts, data architects, and software engineers is pushing up pay rates and thinning the market for top-notch talent.
Shrewd CIOs are taking a measured approach to their IT talent requirements by balancing short-term project requirements with long-term business and organizational goals. For instance, while project-specific software application skills can often be contracted on an as-needed basis, organizations that are looking to expand their business technology capabilities may be inclined to hire enterprise architects that can help them achieve the level of scale needed in coming years.