You Asked for It…

John Parkinson, writing in CIO Insight, laments his difficulty in attracting–and retaining–qualified and talented IT professionals.

So, two questions: Where are all the good people? And why are we seeing so much turnover in a supposedly poor job market?

I’ve been looking at these issues for a few months now, and I’m starting to see some patterns, if not answers, in our data.

First, a lot of people are going freelance. I can rent them, but not hire them. They don’t seem to care about (or maybe believe in) “corporate” benefits such as health insurance or 401(k) plans or even performance bonuses. If they have a hot skill, they are willing to roll the dice on being able to keep busy even in bad times.

I have employed several people who work this way. The arrangements can be mutually beneficial, but the complexity of managing a work force that’s less “loyal” (and less accountable) taxes our managers and systems—and may not be sustainable in the long term.

Second, a lot of the skills we need are scarce, and the people who have them—and have jobs—seem reluctant to move, even for more money. Other employers I have talked to see the same thing and most are willing to match an offer to keep the skills in-house.

Third, those who are willing to move keep on doing so. Even if I find someone who will quit to join us, he or she is probably going to do the same if another offer comes along.

It’s as if the available population is dividing into three groups: independent, static and mobile. I really haven’t seen this before—especially not in the three past recessions I have had to manage through—and it’s causing us to rethink some of our resourcing strategies.

When you’ve built an operating model that depends on ready access to skilled technologists and the skills aren’t there, problems loom. We’ll need to get ahead of these challenges quickly if we are to build an organization that’s ready to grow when the recovery arrives.

Mr. Parkinson, I’m not going to accuse you of anything, but you can thank the corporate culture for your dilemma.

Why would you–representing a corporation–expect prospective employees to be loyal, when in fact the corporation would dismiss said employees without a second thought, the moment a director decided the profit margin was too low?


Why would you expect prospective employees to give nary a damn about advertised 401(k) benefits? After all, they have seen no small number of companies screw their employees on matching funds, investment advice, or even portability. Besides, with the market in the tank, it’s more difficult to think of retirement when the primary concern is what is going to happen in the next 6-12 months.

I can tell you about the independent, static, and mobile paradigms…

The “independent” are those who are either freelancers on the side, or full-time freelancers. They have told the corporate culture to go pound sand. Can you blame them? They are sick and tired of being subject to the whims of your parasitic leaders who are stingy at compensating the good workers, and quick to fire them at the drop of a hat. They are telling people like you to do something anatomically impossible.

The “static” are those who either (a) are marginally competent or are just not enterprising enough to strike out independently, or (b) are settled because of family, mortgage, or other obligations that are not easy to jettison, or (c) just don’t like to travel, or (d) simply want stability.

The “mobile” are those who are unattached, have little if any home obligations, and wish to exploit that by earning big bucks while they have the chance. They are your typical contractors: here today, gone tomorrow.

The “mobile” and “independent”, due to their goals and aspirations, are going to be tough to retain. “Independent” types have a disdain for corporate culture, while “mobile” workers are thinking toward their next venture. The “static” are tough to find, because they are less-willing to relocate, or leave an otherwise good position, without substantial compensatory reasons. Moreover, they might not be able to easily free themselves from their mortgages in a crappy housing market where they could be upside-down if they choose to sell now.

At any rate, you can thank corporate culture for creating this employment landscape. Your types have been exploiting American workers by importing cheap labor through H1B policies–that your companies lobbied for–and outsourcing jobs to India and China.

And you expect American workers to give a flying fornication about loyalty?

Piss on the whole lot of your corporate bastards.