A sea of e-business talent, but for how much longer?

The time to manage and motivate your e-business staff is now, during the
downturn, not when it is too late, says a recent survey

Companies should be acting now to put the correct retention strategies in
place to identify and retain their best talent, says Mercer Human Resource
Consulting after conducting a survey which examined recruitment and retention
issues, together with pay and benefits in the UK e-business sector.

It shows that e-business staff will again be in major demand when the
economy improves. Brenda Wilson, senior consultant at Mercer says: "Many
e-business staff have been laid off in the economic downturn. The tide has
turned and firms have a sea of talent to choose from.

"They should beware that, when the economy picks up, however, these
employees could again be in hot demand," she adds.

Seventeen organisations took part in the 2002 UK E-talent Compensation
survey, most of which were parent companies with more than 5,000 employees. It
found that, in the next 12 to 18 months, providing opportunities for career
development is perceived to be the most crucial factor in the battle to keep
hold of staff.

"Training in this sector is particularly important, because technology
changes so fast and staff need to ensure their skills are up-to-date,"
says Wilson. "Companies that invest in career development are more likely
to retain staff."

As well as the importance placed on training, 64 per cent of organisations
thought that having work-life policies in place helped retain staff and more
than half (55 per cent) felt that offering decent benefits kept employees
engaged in an organisation. More than half also said bonuses were an important
retention tool and they would become increasingly significant in the future.

When it came to attracting staff, 64 per cent of companies said base pay was
an important issue, while over 36 per cent said bonuses helped attract staff.
The feeling was that the emphasis could move slightly away from this to
variable pay in 12 to 18 months time, with 25 per cent believing bonuses would
be a vital part of the reward package.

In the period 2001-2002, average salary increases in e-business was four per
cent for executives and general employees compared to an average 5 per cent in
2000-2001. Next year it looks set to fall further to around 3 per cent. The
median rate for a top technical e-business manager is £80,000, while a senior
web developer can expect to earn £45,350 and a web content specialist £25,250
(see table). Web developers and technical sales staff were the only roles
identified as being difficult to recruit for.

Becca Benton, Wilson’s colleague and talent management specialist at Mercer,
believes identifying in-house e-business talent in the first place will also be
key to organisations. "It’s a case of really knowing who your best people
are and those organisations that have the correct HR processes in place to
identify the talent internally will win out," she says.

"The purpose of a talent management approach is to identify those
employees who create the most value for the organisation and to maximise that
value through the management, development and retention of those star
performers. In the technology sector, the challenge will be to ensure that
talent has been identified and is being managed now before the sector picks up
and attrition increases.

"Star performers will contribute three times the value of a non-star
performer so it makes business sense to manage and retain them."

The report costs £1,500 and is available on 01753 848071.


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