Rocky Mountain
Information Management Association

December Lunch Meeting

Annual Employment Panel

Focus on Retention

Mira Ringler lead off with some key issues facing our industry and the U.S. Economy in general.  With 1.6 million technical jobs open in the U.S., a 25 to 30% turnover of technical workers and 43% fewer IT graduates compared to 10 years ago, the most important thing an organization can do is keep the people they have.  Talent retention is the key issue in 2001.

The number one reason professional workers say they leave is their manager.  She reported that there are web sites devoted to exposing bad bosses.  Other reasons for leaving include lack of a clear company purpose, lack of recognition, and little professional development.  There is often a gap between expectations and reality.

What is a manager to do?  The research suggests technical professionals want the following things in their jobs: autonomy, achievement, participation and collegial support.  The number one fear is technical obsolescence.  Money is a factor when it is outside of a 15% buffer, but within 15% other things matter more.  Work/life balance is becoming increasingly important.  In other words, people want time to live.

 Ringler went on to say that you don’t have to spend a fortune to improve retention.  You can look for things with low cost and high perceived value.  An example is a cup holder in a car.  The car itself costs a lot and the cup holder costs very little, but people really appreciate that little cup holder, thereby increasing the overall perceived value of the car.  She suggests you look for cup holder opportunities in the work place.  What would cost very little but be greatly appreciated?

After Ringler’s presenation, the panel looked at what is happening in Denver and tried to predict trends for 2001.  There is a softening in demand for some traditional jobs like COBOL and AS400 programmers, but demand is still hot for leading edge technology jobs and process improvement jobs.  Another big one is technical people who can manage.

Stan Brown made an interesting comment regarding retention, “when people leave at night you want them to come back the next day.”  Steve Wille reported that on his way home from work one day he saw men in suits out on the street carrying signs advertising employment for technical workers.  It is no longer “I will work for food” signs, but “I have a job for you.”

From the audience we learned that in this hot job market, the state of Colorado has been successful with recruiting from a pool of college interns.  Don Kirkpatric reported half of their interns become employees.  A person from Sun reported that at her company workers keep coming back because they like what they had.  She said Sun encourages the returns be restoring the person’s time status when they come back.

 Ringler left us with the thought on retention from Terry Pearce, author of Clicks & Mortar, “People are satisfied by what you do, but they are loyal to who you are.”


Mira Ringler, Regional Manager, BlessingWhite
Keep your talented people and how to grow those individuals - beyond a paycheck.  Mira Ringler, will share insights and ideas from her work with clients such as JD Edwards, Invesco Funds, Intel, Charles Schwab & Co., First Data Corp. and Yahoo!

Stan Brown, Information Technology Recruiter, Solution Partners
Stan has been a Colorado recruiter for the past 21 years.  During that time, Stan has helped over 700 I.T. professionals to find a new opportunity. Prior to entering recruiting, Stan was a software engineer for 6 years with DEC.

Kathleen Atler, Director of Staffing, CoBank

Panel Moderator:

Steve Wille, vice president, Distributed Systems Development, Diners Club International
Steve has been managing corporate IT projects for two decades (back in the 1900s) and he looks forward to what may come in 2001. 

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