By Terry Tateossian, founding partner of Socialfix Media, MIT blockchain and AI-certified consultant, speaker and activist.
The talent crisis that tech companies are struggling with is not only about web or software developers. The shortage of workers is felt across the IT sector, from network management and cybersecurity to analytics and data services. While the tаlent crisis is not new, tech employees are increasingly quitting what should be a secure job. The reasons are many and varied. A study from TalentLMS reveals that tech workers are considering leaving due to non-flexible work hours (40%), limited opportunities for career advancement (41%) and a toxic work environment (39%). Other common reasons for quitting a job include suffering from burnout (reported by 58%), lack of remote options (33%) and focusing more on recruiting than investing in existing staff (75%).
Businesses are increasingly aware they could risk losing tech talent. Those that can afford it are giving double-digit salary hikes or are offering hiring bonuses to attract top talent. Others are looking for ways to create an attractive work environment or to incentivize employees through knowledge exchange meetings and educational sessions. Whether adding incentives or pay rises, businesses are seeking to make jobs more appealing in an attempt to fill some of the most in-demand positions, ranging from data scientist to software and web developer.
In the big data world that we live in, a growing number of businesses are eager to turn data into actionable insights and move their digital strategy forward. Embracing data science can help startups accelerate, predict market trends and gain meaningful insights into their customers and products.
The market for skilled talent is tight, however, and demand is expected to rise by 28% by the end of 2022. Businesses—including big names like Facebook, Google and Amazon that can offer six-digit salaries, stocks and/or a range of project options—are competing to hire and retain talent. Offering a competitive salary is key, but there is more that small businesses can do to win the battle for talent. Remote work options, flexible hours, a work-friendly environment and continuing education opportunities are some of the perks that startups can offer to attract talent. Flexibility, in particular, is a winning strategy for attracting data science talent that is often working under a lot of pressure. Extracting insights from unstructured data can be time-consuming and complex, a reason why employees need the ability to work flexibly and at a place and time that works best for them.
In recent years, there has been an immensely increasing demand for software engineers. Considering tech trends like machine learning, artificial intelligence (AI), quantum computing and hyper-automation, demand for software developers is expected to continue. In fact, BLS data shows that employment of testers, quality assurance analysts and software engineers will grow 25% by 2031.
Software developers are highly sought-after talent in tech startups as well. This is because the bulk of products that tech companies are bringing to market are supported by software, including virtual reality platforms, Internet of Things (IoT) devices and smartphones. Like data science talent, however, competing against major employers can be a tough contest to win unless employers pay attention to what job seekers want. While attractive salary packages may pique the interest of top talent, it seems that many developers want more than just competitive pay. A recent survey across the U.S., Canada and Latin America revealed that the majority of software developers would choose an employer based on work flexibility and the availability of remote work arrangements. As per the survey, 86% of all engineers are fully remote, and over one-third would rather remain remote. The overwhelming majority of respondents (80%) cited hybrid as their preferred work model, reporting all-remote benefits like less stress, more autonomy and better work-life balance.
Not surprisingly, many businesses—including industry giants like Apple, Microsoft and Twitter—are opting for remote and hybrid work arrangements. Small businesses and startups may also consider offering remote work options to make their organization attractive to top talent. At the same time, as software engineers increasingly prioritize autonomy, remote work does not simply mean changing employee location and avoiding the commute. Businesses need to break free from the “9-to-5” culture and offer employees the freedom to plan and manage their work schedules and tasks.
Web developers are in high and constant demand. Giants such as IBM, Google and Bank of America are always looking for tech talent, and many have ditched their degree requirements to fill vacancies and adapt to an increasingly tight labor market. Demand also comes from new and growing tech businesses looking to be at the forefront of technology and innovation. Yet again, attracting talent can be hard for startups competing with bigger, well-known companies with more resources.
For small companies looking to gain an edge, the key to staying competitive is having a clear idea of what developer talent expects from them. Clearly, compensation matters and is the number-one cited reason for switching jobs as per the 2020 State of Developer Satisfaction Report—yet when looking for new employment opportunities, web developers also prioritize career growth, better benefits, remote work and shorter hours. For businesses, this means the main selling point should be how their organization benefits employees at home and on the job.
The digital transformation and our overdependence on devices and technological capabilities have pushed the demand for tech and digital professionals through the roof. The war for tech talent is heating up and will only escalate in the next couple of years. Technology and software are already mission-critical for business success, and it is not just tech companies that are seeking to win over talent. Businesses across industries have joined the fray, offering a wide array of perks like permanent remote work, sign-on bonuses and flexible hours.
With growing pressure on the talent supply side, offering competitive salary packages may not be enough to attract and retain tech talent. Retaining talent and especially sought-after professionals requires a focus on building a workplace atmosphere that emphasizes flexible arrangements, healthy work-life balance and individual initiative.