3. Build a rewarding work environment
Retention of IT staff also relies on adequate investment in technology infrastructure. IT professionals get excited about “the bells and whistles,” Kidwell says. “They want to work in an environment that screams ‘cutting edge’ so they’re proud to say they work there.”
Recognize, too, that IT people “operate with a different drumbeat,” Rafiq says, so their department atmosphere might not resemble that of other back offices. You might expect to see “writing all over the walls,” he says. “You have to harness that creativity.”
While credit unions probably can’t match a Googlelike workplace environment and amenities, they have a different edge: Their IT jobs are more varied, and thus rewarding. At big companies, a person’s duties often are more narrowly focused.
“They’re very point, click, point, click,” says Rafiq, who once worked in such a job. “It took me three months to decide [that] no way was I staying.”
Having the freedom to work remotely also holds appeal. For certain IT staff, onsite presence is essential to serve fellow employees and members. But for projectoriented jobs, working remotely is viable, Rafiq says.
He speaks from experience: Rafiq works from his home in El Paso, 650 miles from Credit Union Resources’ headquarters in Plano, near Dallas. Such arrangements in credit unions “may become more prevalent in the future,” he says.
The potential exists for loss of team camaraderie through these remote arrangements. Rafiq combats that challenge by using an online group chat for personal exchanges. “We talk smack about each other’s football teams,” he says. “We get the water-cooler talk. That helps us feel more connected and part of a team.”
4. Provide competitive compensation
Few, if any, credit unions can match the big technology companies’ pay scales. Still, it’s vital to “stay consistent with the market,” Atkins says. “We pay a lot of attention to our market, and we know we have to pay a premium for certain positions.”
Increasingly, credit unions are developing pay packages specific to their IT staff rather than using a traditional, organization-wide pay structure, Kidwell observes. “Compensation levels in the IT field are high,” he says. “So credit unions have to think differently than they used to. Variable pay also is becoming much more popular, especially within IT.”
Open Technology Solutions, for instance, pays a base salary augmented by an incentive plan. For the latter, “we use a corporate scorecard,” Atkins says, “that ensures that what’s important to our partner credit unions is important to our staff.”
Even if you do things “right” in terms of compensation, culture, growth opportunities, and workplace environment, many IT employees leave credit unions.
“Our goal is to understand the career aspirations of the people who work here and to help them achieve those aspirations,” he says. “Ideally, that happens here. “But if there’s something they want to do that they can’t do here,” Atkins adds, “then I want to make sure they’re in a position to jump at that opportunity when the time is right.”
Competition for information technology (IT) professionals is on the rise, so CUs must develop a thoughtful develop-and-retain strategy.
Breed loyalty among tech-savvy employees by assigning ownership of projects and nurturing their career ambitions.
Board focus: Review your compensation strategies and workplace flexibility policies to ensure maximum appeal among IT professionals.