Competition for IT talent heats up: How to keep your best workers

The economy’s ready to start recovering, and for all the good that will bring, there could be a downside for businesses:

Retention could get tougher as competition for talent heats up.

And it looks like IT departments could have a tougher time than others hanging on to their best staffers.

Only 4% of IT employees are “highly engaged” in their jobs, according to a recent survey by the Corporate Executive Board. That means most staffers are simply going through the motions as they dream about working for another company.

All in all, IT staffers are 2.5 times more likely than the average worker to look for a new job in 2010, according to the study. And they may have an easier time finding one: 32% of IT departments plan to hire new employees this year, according to a CareerBuilder survey.

So what does it take to hang on to top performing IT pros? The good news: Money isn’t the only factor.

Some ways to boost retention when raises aren’t in the budget:

  1. Increase responsibility — Ask valuable workers to take the lead on important projects and get their input on strategic decisions.
  2. Offer training — Things change fast in IT, and keeping staffers up to date will boost their job security – not to mention give you a more skilled workforce.
  3. Switch duties — Folks can get bored when they do the same thing every day. To avoid that, have some staffers trade tasks. That’ll keep things interesting, while also expanding everyone’s skill sets.