When the 190,000 people taking part in the 2021 Randstad Employer Brand Research were asked 'what is the most attractive sector to work in?', IT technology & communications (ITC) came out on top.
ITC (consisting of IT, software, telecom, internet providers and technology companies) was also the most attractive sector in 2020. What’s changed since then is the attribute respondents now find most appealing about ITC. Last year, it was use of the latest technology. This year, it is financial health, which reflects the attractiveness of businesses and sectors that are resilient when so many have struggled during the recent economic turmoil. ITC has been one of the standout performers over the past year, and looks set to go from strength to strength as the changes in how we live and work fuel soaring demand for digital technology.
The appeal of ITC is good news for recruitment in the long-term. This is the sector in which more and more top graduates want to make a career. But for now, tech talent demands continue to outstrip supply.
Globally, engineering is some way behind ITC in attractiveness, though in North America, the two sectors are virtually on a par. As with ITC, there are many more vacancies than available talent within engineering, especially where the boundaries between the two sectors blur, such as robotics and artificial intelligence.
priorities for action
What then marks out the ideal employer? Pay is obviously critical. But it’s clear from the Randstad Employer Brand Research that money isn’t enough to secure the tech talent you need to succeed on its own. From the ITC and engineering findings and our work with businesses in the sector, four priorities for attracting and retaining talent stand out:
1/ strengthen work-life balance
The COVID-19 pandemic has spurred employees to think about what really matters to them. The importance of work-life balance has risen markedly as a result. Among ITC managers, this is the number one reason for choosing an employer. For ITC and engineering professionals and associates, work-life balance is just behind attractive salary and benefits at number two.
Work-life balance is more than just flexible working, as important as this can be. Forward-looking businesses are giving staff greater autonomy over how they achieve their objectives. It’s also important to ensure that leaders set an example by embracing this kind or working. Otherwise, employees may feel that it could harm their chances of promotion or being assigned to prestigious projects.
2/ support wellbeing
The findings highlight the extent to which allegiance to employers depends on how supported employees have felt during the upheaval of 2020 and 2021. Encouragingly, most ITC and engineering organizations would appear to have got this right – 70% of employees in this sector now feel more loyal to their employers as a result of the support they’ve received during the pandemic.
The disruption and potential isolation of working from home have put intense pressure on many sector employees. Now, many are grappling with the shift to hybrid remote and onsite working. This underlines the importance of engagement, support for wellbeing and a readiness to respond to concerns. This kind of care and support provides an authentic demonstration of your values, culture, and ability to look after your employees, which will directly impact your employer brand.
3/ help your people to further their careers
Career progression is more important to people in ITC & engineering than the other professions in our research. The continual need to update skills and seek out fresh experiences reflects the pace of innovation and change within the ITC & engineering sector. This is also a sector where the best people have an insatiable appetite for fresh challenges and making their mark. Smart businesses are consciously building these career development opportunities into a compelling employee value proposition. And this applies to gig workers as much as permanent employees.
4/ reinforce your purpose
The findings suggest that people working in ITC & engineering mainly focus on aspects of their job that have a direct personal impact on them such as pay or work-life balance. Factors such as diversity and inclusion, sustainability and giving back to society are lower down their list of priorities when choosing an employer.
But this doesn’t mean that the latter factors aren’t important to talent management in the mid- to long-term. In a clear case in point, attracting more women into ITC & engineering is critical in expanding the talent pool, tackling skills shortages, and bringing fresh ideas into the sector. In turn, focusing on sustainability and giving back to society can bolster your reputation, which our research shows is important to ITC & engineering employees.
To find out more about what ITC & engineering talent wants and how to attract them, download the latest Randstad Employer Brand Research ITC and engineering professions report.