As universities and colleges begin to bend to the pressures of an evolving marketplace, many schools are looking toward their IT departments to stay competitive and be prepared to deal with whatever the future has to offer. This adds pressure to the already difficult task of managing university IT, but there’s a very simple place to lay the groundwork for greatness. Your university IT department can only be as good as the IT talent who staff it. The people who keep your systems up and running are the true makers (or breakers) of your bottom line. As such, it is in your best interest to hire and retain the best possible team. Keep these tips in mind to ensure your team is prepared for the challenges ahead.
1. Look to the Next Generation
You might even be able to hire these workers at a low or reduced cost to your department.
Working in Higher Ed provides the exciting opportunity to access the next generation of innovators early in their careers. Find a way to tap into, foster, and nurture this talent; student workers can add fresh perspectives and vibrancy to any Higher Ed IT department. Treating students as “real” workers not only benefits the students but also allows you to find raw talent before it has developed any bad habits to go along with it. Students tend to be motivated, excited, and willing to learn; all qualities for potentially incredible employees. If your institution has a work-study program, you might even be able to hire these workers at a low or reduced cost to your department, allowing you room in the budget for other vital necessities.
2. Encourage Growth
Your department will reap the benefits of your employee’s ever-expanding knowledge base.
Employees, especially talented ones, should be offered opportunities to learn and improve. While this is an effective tactic for improving morale and engagement, it also means that your department will reap the benefits of an employee’s ever-expanding knowledge base and skill set. Find ways to offer continuing education to your employees: memberships in professional organizations, conference attendance, certifications, ways for them to learn and hone skills that will improve not just their capabilities, but your department’s as well. This will also demonstrate your interest in your coworkers, forging a stronger bond between your staff and institution. Higher Ed is built on the foundations of education and personal development, so it only makes sense to apply those philosophies to how you manage your team. Treat your talent well and they will react accordingly.
3. Get Engaged
Take actions that back up your words.
As the IT industry trends towards a revolving door model, it becomes more and more difficult to hang on to good talent for long periods of time. One method top industry insiders recommend to combat this is to improve employee engagement. Find ways to make sure your team knows who you are, how you work, and that you care about them as people, not just employees. Adopt open-door policies; create space for company “playtime” (team luncheons, volunteer for a cause day, etc.); show your workers how much you appreciate their hard work. Remember that showing is different from telling. While discussing how much you value your talent is important, it’s just as important to take actions that back up your words. Remember: if your IT talent feels valued, they will want to stick around.
4. Offer Rewards
Invest in your talent and it will pay off.
If you know that you’ve got a crack team working for you, it stands to reason that they might know others who would fit well with the department’s culture and goals. As an incentive to attract this kind of pre-screened talent, consider finding ways to create referral rewards for your employees. Hiring and signing bonuses are both great methods of attracting the talent you’re looking for, and encouraging them to sign on with you over any number of other institutions. Invest in your talent and it will pay off.
These tips should get you started thinking along a fruitful path. If you find that at any point you are struggling to find the right person for the job, or if you would like to discuss how to implement these strategies, feel free to contact us and we’ll be glad to help. Hiring and retaining Higher Ed IT talent can be a tricky business, but we have the industry experience to help you find the team you’re looking for, no matter what challenges you might be facing.
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