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February 15, 2001
Non-Cash Compensation Can Swing IT Candidates
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TPORT, Conn. -- A new survey on compensation for information technology positions indicates that salary alone is no longer a sufficient lure to help companies attract and retain IT talent.

While most employers are cutting back on employee perks, the survey finds that the same rules do not necessarily apply for IT employees. Faced with a continued IT talent shortage, companies have adopted some creative retention strategies designed to appeal to individual IT employee needs. The survey reveals that these strategies include increased opportunities to work on multiple projects and new technologies, greater flexibility with titles and the chance to work on projects above and beyond employees' general area of responsibilities.

"We're realizing that companies need to step beyond the traditional parameters of job description, title and career in both attracting IT talent and in retaining these individuals," says Sarah Prost, senior consultant of PricewaterhouseCooper's Unifi Network. "There's no question that many of these individuals are being well compensated. Yet, IT candidates and employees are increasingly starting to ask `What else can I get?' and companies need to respond accordingly if they wish to either land these individuals or hold onto them."

Top 3 strategies
The survey found that the top three strategies implemented to increase IT retention are:
  • Flexible work schedules (62.5%),
  • Challenging work assignments (52.1%), and
  • Comprehensive training programs (32.6%).
These long-term strategies enhance the overall benefits and compensation packages for IT professionals who are thinking beyond just salary issues.

"Many companies fail to realize that the shelf life of an experienced IT employee looking to move or a stellar IT candidate might be just two or three days," remarked Ms. Prost.

"Companies need to act fast and we're seeing a growing number of on-the-spot offers. In addition, companies are realizing that the best way to recruit new talent is through referral bonus programs with current employees." The survey finds that referral bonuses for management and exempt positions in IT averaged double those paid to employees outside of the IT arena.

Finding a better medium
The survey also finds that companies need to rethink the mediums through which they recruit candidates. The most utilized sources for finding new-hire candidates, newspapers and periodicals, are in fact the least effective forms of recruiting, it found. Newspapers were used by 86% of the participants, but only 6 percent found this to be very effective in recruiting. Only 6 percent of those surveyed used online skills marketplaces and retired workers as recruiting sources even though these sources were deemed significantly more effective in reaching desired IT candidate targets.
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