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Companies look beyond salaries to entice tech workers

by Karen Talley


The tight labor market for tech jobs continues, with just 3,300 IT jobs filled in January, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ monthly nonfarm payrolls report released Friday.

One reason for the low showing could be salary differences between tech workers and companies because “there are more jobs to fill than people,” Steven Ostrowski, spokesman for CompTIA, a technology industry association, told FierceCEO.

That is making employers creative, or at least thinking about ways to bridge the gap between what they are willing to pay technology staff and other things they are willing to offer.

Tech employees have the power

In the past decade, the power has shifted in the workplace from employers to employees, said Andrew Gross, enterprise solutions manager at Crestron. “In 2008, jobs were hard to come by and thus workplace culture, flexibility, and compensation took a back seat to job security. But as the market has shifted, companies need to rethink what they’re offering technology employees if they want to continue attracting the top industry talent.”

As a result, “workplaces are listening to what employees want and are more flexible in how, when, and where employees do their jobs,” Gross said. “We’re seeing companies invest in better collaboration tools to allow employees to work where and when they want along with better technology in the office that makes doing one’s job a painless process.”

One way to do this is by bringing the home to the office, Gross said. “The home assistant, Alexa, provides the convenience of voice control and gives corporations the ability to offer the same perks of working from home, but rather in the office” where it is starting to be used.

Fostering flexibility

Sarah Lahav, CEO of SysAid Technologies, said a combination of personal development and a good work environment can go far in enticing tech workers.

She offers the following as examples:

  • Continuing education/professional courses—employees want to feel the company is investing in them now but they also want to feel the company is investing in their future. Continuing education or professional courses are very important. From the employee’s perspective, this a lasting and highly appreciated perk.
  • Free fitness classes or on-site gyms—working out and physical fitness is top of mind for a lot of people. Providing free fitness classes or even on-site gyms presents a true value to employees.
  • Paid time off for volunteering—giving back to the community is empowering and meaningful. Workplaces that offer paid volunteer time off sends a strong message to employees that community involvement is important. It indicates a true investment in your employees’ desires to be a part of something important to them.
  • Good work environment—cool offices, nice kitchen/coffee space, game rooms, break rooms–all these create an environment with good vibes. Employees appreciate this and are seeking out workplaces that offer this type of atmosphere.
  • Transportation allowance—when companies offer transportation allowance, it shows employees that employers care about how they get to and from work and want to make it affordable and convenient for them.
  • Daily Errands—taking care of your employees’ errands such as laundry and car washes sends a message that you’re thinking about them and trying to help with the little mundane tasks that often create big headaches.

The CEO must step into the spotlight to attract top talent, said marketer Bill Corbett, Jr. “Founders and CEOs often take a back seat and rely on HR to attract talent. This is a huge mistake; a big personality with a vision, plan and track record makes a critical difference.”

CEOs who don’t develop their brands, have a public image or brand are failing to attract the best and the brightest as well as the most motivated talent, Corbett said.  “When a CEO is promoted in the news, TV, radio, print and online, their message resonates and attracts talent, opportunities and business.  We see other great leaders who don’t do this fail to attract the best talent and create excitement in their companies.”

“If you look at the Apples, Googles and Amazons, they go beyond compensation,” said Paul Szyarto, CEO of Campana & Schott. “You need to build an environment for development; more of a lifestyle place than a workplace.”

A number of traditional organizations are starting to go this route, he said.


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