While Dublin’s reputation as an IT hub continues to grow, companies face increasing competition in hiring and retaining skilled IT professionals across Ireland. As huge Tech giants move to Dublin promising thousands of career opportunities, recruitment agencies in Ireland are busier than ever. Growth in the sector, driven by accelerated digitisation during the pandemic, has created an urgent demand for software developers and cybersecurity experts. In addition, advancements in fintech and a proliferation of innovative startups have opened up even more employment possibilities for IT professionals and further widened the skills shortage within the industry.
While the skills gap across Ireland’s burgeoning IT sector predated the pandemic, the decreasing unemployment rate, of only 5.5%, spells less competition for jobs and greater confidence among jobseekers. Consequently, IT companies confront considerable challenges in recruiting and retaining talent in 2022. The pandemic has changed people’s mindset toward work-life balance, with professionals now expecting flexible working patterns and hybrid models. This article considers the challenges companies face in retaining staff and adapting to the post-pandemic work-life culture.
What challenges are IT companies facing?
Recruitment and retention
The biggest challenge for IT companies globally is recruiting and retaining IT talent. While data science, software development and cloud environments have always been in big demand in tech companies, the recent need for these skills in all sectors has further increased competition. Cyber security is a priority for all companies and specialists are needed to implement and maintain it. As a result, Tech companies are in stronger competition than ever to provide attractive working environments and packages for IT professionals.
IT salaries are rising and are predicted to rise significantly higher. Salary freezes during the pandemic mean staff now feel entitled to a post-pandemic pay rise. Increasing inflation rates also mean staff expect these hikes to be reflected in their salaries. As companies raise salaries to retain staff, company budgets for pay rises are climbing. Pay raises currently at 6-8% for new starters are actually higher than the rate of inflation. To sustain staff morale among existing employees, companies are expected to offer an additional 5% rise to align with the higher salaries of new start employees. Spiralling wages come with risks – companies are compelled to increase prices and costs to clients and consumers. This has a knock-on effect on profit margins which may curb company development and expansion.
The work from home pattern, originally a desperate measure during the pandemic, has become a feasible and often cost-effective way for companies to work. Almost half of Irish companies have now offered staff the possibility of working remotely. While most employees have adapted to a work-life balance and are focused and productive, the remote model still poses challenges to companies.
- Organisations have to supply the technology, update it, secure the networks and endpoints and troubleshoot the systems.
- Specialised training is often mandatory.
- Password protection and compliance with security are important factors that employers have to entrust to IT workers. Data breaches are a risk and a significant budget is required for cybersecurity.
- Companies are still working out ways to optimise work productivity across the company. Flexi work requires planning to implement and information flow between team members and departments in IT jobs is not always smooth.
- Meetings and teamwork are at times compromised.
- Employers aren’t always aware of how to keep staff motivated and engaged.
Despite complications, companies are adapting well and offering staff the option of a blended approach to onsite/remote working.
Candidate driven market
An abundance of IT jobs and shortages of talented professionals has led to a candidate-centric market. Recruitment agencies and companies competing for top-tier talent have had to adapt their hiring strategies and offer increasingly attractive salaries and conditions to professionals. The worker mindset has evolved throughout the pandemic with employees prizing flexible working patterns and career development options, so employers now have to compete to match their needs. The employee experience extends beyond the salary and conditions. Employers will have to view staff as long-term investments to retain them. Candidates often seek companies whose values align with their own and are demanding greater transparency from employers.
What are companies doing to succeed?
As IT businesses seek temporary and contract workers, Ireland has introduced the critical skills employment permit to pave the way for IT specialists from non-member states. Many Dublin IT companies are inevitably outsourcing work to recruitment agencies and third parties. Most IT businesses are investing in training and micro-skilling their teams, while other IT firms are looking at long-term solutions by talking to schools and colleges to offer apprenticeships and relevant courses of study.
Is reduced-load working a way to retain staff?
The transition to a four-day workweek has been successfully introduced in some Northern European countries and is considered a popular incentive for professional workers. Originally experimental, it became a reality during the pandemic with measurable outcomes. Technology and artificial intelligence have further facilitated this possibility. The four-day week has been found to boost employee health and well-being and increase productivity and staff loyalty. It’s expected to counteract employee burnout and lead to higher levels of staff engagement. A shorter working week also means more equality in the workplace as parents will find it more feasible to juggle careers with family life. The four-day week is also predicted to keep older workers from retiring early. As a sustainable practice, this model will lead to an inevitably lower carbon footprint.
Making a counteroffer to a resigning employee.
While employees all over the world are re-evaluating their career paths, companies and employers find themselves in increasingly difficult situations. Losing valuable staff members is disruptive and affects company morale while recruiting and onboarding new staff is costly and time-consuming. Not surprisingly, companies are making counteroffers to hold on to resigning staff.
While counteroffers avoid the expense and the hassle of hiring new professionals, the process usually just delays the inevitable. Occasionally, an honest conversation with an employee about why they are dissatisfied at work might resolve the issue, though often once the worker has decided to resign, it’s too late. While an attractive pay rise and better conditions may stall a disenchanted worker in the interim, it’s usually just a matter of time before they move on. Counteroffers typically impair company trust, if co-workers hear about the raise, it can cause contention. It’s better to avoid resignations in the first place, where possible.
Tips for staff retention
While it’s not always possible to prevent resignations, measures can be put in place to stem them. A robust, well-managed environment with good communication and evaluation systems is important. Salaries and benefits should remain competitive and clear career development paths should be set up to facilitate progression. Most employers want to avoid the negative impact of resignations on productivity and staff ethos and seeking to understand why employees are leaving is a positive step in retaining them.
A well-executed hiring process is essential in recruiting IT staff in the first place. It’s best to rely on the professional recruitment knowledge and reach of a recruitment agency to match precise company needs. Communication with recruitment agencies and candidates should be clear from the outset. If high calibre candidates know exactly what a career in the company entails before starting, they will be more likely to stay.
Although the buoyant economy has led to a wealth of job opportunities for IT specialists, measures can be taken to help reduce turnover. Shifting the focus onto supporting staff well-being promotes employee engagement and can only facilitate sustainable industry growth long-term. Workers today have come to expect a positive, supportive company ethos along with competitive salaries and wages.
For more information on how IT companies can retain talent in Ireland, feel free to get in touch with Kieran Tumulty.
+353 1 649 8510