The digital age has put the world’s small pool of skilled tech workers firmly in the spotlight. Companies of all sizes crave high-value candidates, but are faced with an increasingly candidate-scarce market and the highest turnover rates of any sector. Rather than relying on external hiring to get the edge, many are now looking at how they can improve retention rates and reskill their existing workforce.

Businesses of all sizes have had to adapt to trading in the digital age, as tech dominates the corporate sphere. Whether you’re a small company trying to simply have a social media presence, or a global giant implementing a new CRM to drive the customer journey, technology is an essential part of modern trading.

So important, in fact, that finding high value professionals who can work with the many different technologies available is becoming something of a dilemma in its own right. Especially in areas such as cloud technology, the shortage of skilled workers who can help administrate cloud products, develop infrastructure, and combat cybercrime is predicted to reach crisis point. More companies are in need of digital talent, while the pool of available professionals isn’t increasing at the same speed.

While many employers are looking towards how they recruit in order to get a head-start on their competitors, it’s also worth considering the alarming statistic that the turnover for technology workers is worse than any other industry. That means looking at your retention rates is the next step in getting the edge in the battle to have the best tech team possible.

Getting under the skin

Understanding what drives and motivates the sort of high-value employees you want in your building is the first step. One survey of tech professionals revealed that simply seeking a fresh challenge ranks ahead of bad leadership in persuading them to take up a new role. In short; the best individuals crave learning and development, and want to get stuck into the latest innovations available for them to play with.

There’s a reason you’ll have a stereotypical image of a tech team in your mind—noses stuck against a screen, even during a lunch break they’ll have multiple devices on their desk. They inherently want to master what it is they’re doing, and learning is the best way to achieve this. Any great IT team will be made up of active minds, who live for problem-solving and finding new solutions. In an ideal world your tech stack will operate pretty smoothly, but that doesn’t mean you can’t challenge your staff by giving them the opportunity to learn and further develop their skill set.

Good training does cost money, but it’s an essential spend and considerably more efficient than subjecting your business to an endless cycle of hiring. Championing professional development fosters a healthier culture for your staff, too. Promoting continuous learning won’t just help attract people, it’ll retain them.

How to learn

If you’re unsure how to go about fostering a culture of development, the easiest way is to ask. Nobody expects you to instinctively know the ins and outs of the IT sector and the trends likely to affect your company’s tech arm. Any talented workers with an appetite for the ecosystem they work in will have an idea of where your stack is headed and what they need in order to tackle it. Given the chance to develop their own career, they won’t shy away from telling you specifically what they need.

A viable solution for many employees is platform-specific certifications. They will help embed your staff deep within the technology itself, which is a bifold beneficiary; they get to find out the intricacies of the product they’re working with, and as a result, they’re best placed to make sure that you’re eking the very most out of your company’s investment. That does come at a cost; qualified staff are more valuable and often expect remuneration in return for bringing this knowledge into your business, as well as a contribution toward gaining those certifications, either fully or in part.

Having a stimulated department who are keen on learning is invaluable—tech evolves rapidly and when it comes to tackling the next change that you implement, you can’t put a price on staff who are eager to grow. People are often wary of change, so having a team of flag bearers who are happy to support new ways of working is essential.

Attending industry events and networking with peers will also help aid this. Try and bring influencers within your sphere in and hold workshops to share best practices with your staff. If you’re going to the effort and expense of facilitating and encouraging staff to learn, it has to bring real value. People can easily tell the difference if it’s little more than a box-checking exercise.

Preparing for the future

Upskilling and cross-training is a growing trend among tech workers. Companies are constantly evaluating their digital solutions and being swayed by the possibilities. The choice they’re then left with is finding new professionals with the skills they desire, or retraining those already in place. It’s an expensive quandary that nobody wants to find themselves in.

But, when you have workers with a genuine thirst for development, then you already have the answer. Not only will this approach help you to futureproof your organization, but it’ll enable you to help buck the trend of high turnover rates and put you ahead of your competitors as digital adaption increases and the hunt for tech talent intensifies.

Author Bio: Michael Green
Michael is Vice President of niche IT recruitment firm Nelson Frank. After graduating with a degree in Business Economics, he has spent over a decade working within the recruitment industry.