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The Employee Retention Master Tip for Technology Companies Closing skill gaps is integral to a technology company's success.

By Steve Taplin

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

In the ever-growing field of software development, employee skill gaps continuously widen. The 2020 CIO Survey by Harvey Nash and KPMG shows 65% of the 4200 technology leaders surveyed were struggling with skills shortages when hiring. In 2019, that number was 59%. The gap is only expected to grow as more organizations rely on technology and the remote workforce increases.

Closing skill gaps is integral to a technology company's success. Falling behind means being overtaken by the fierce competition and it's hard to bounce back. Managers often turn to external hiring to fill in disparities left by their current teams. However, bringing on new hires is expensive and time-consuming. The better option is to invest in your current developers and train for missing proficiencies internally. Once that's accomplished, recruiting or outsourcing can be used more effectively.

Reduce turnover

According to Gallup, voluntary turnover costs U.S. businesses $1 trillion each year. Around 25% of professionals left jobs in 2021, and replacing them can cost anywhere from half to two times their annual salary. Besides money, you're also losing that individual's experience, loyalty and soft skills, as well as their team's morale.

It's easy to focus on hiring and forget your internal talent. Workers want to learn and have opportunities to improve. 77% of 32,500 people surveyed feel ready to upskill, and 80% are confident in their ability to adapt to new technologies. If their employer doesn't provide the resources to do this, they'll likely start looking for one that will. Upskilling is advantageous to both the organization and its employees.

Related: How to Leverage AI to Upskill Employees

Implement upskilling

A great place to start is by asking your team what they want. Utilize surveys, questionnaires and meetings to discuss the proficiencies you need and who might be interested in obtaining them. Personalizing your upskilling opportunities will both help the business get the expertise they need and increase employee satisfaction and loyalty.

In addition to internal research, look at the software development field in general. Find out what technologies may be coming soon or would be good to add to your workforce. The idea is to be proactive and to train workers on new skills as soon as possible to keep an edge on your competitors.

Next is deciding what type of training will be best for your developers. An online learning system is a good option. These programs are usually flexible in that individuals can complete them at their own pace. Other options include mentoring, in-person classes and seminars and grants or tuition reimbursement for workers to attend outside learning.

If possible, implement more than one type of training for different types of learners. Provide time and support so that your employees aren't struggling to balance their day-to-day jobs with their development. Encourage upskilling without making it a mandatory chore.

Related: Upskill And Learn: The Newer Ways Of Employee Transformation

Practice smarter hiring

After ensuring that you're utilizing the talent already available, you can make better choices when hiring. If you're still having trouble finding new hires with the right qualifications, take another look at your recruitment practices. Oftentimes software development positions are listed with impossibly high bars for job searchers. With an upskilling plan in place, you can likely lower the requirements for candidates and train them on the job.

If you're still finding gaps or need some additional assistance while your employees upskill, consider working with a nearshore software development company. Similar to offshoring, it offers access to a larger talent pool and allows you to outsource some tasks at a lower cost. However, nearshoring has an advantage in being geographically closer to your business. This means less of a time lag, more flexibility, and higher efficiency.

Close the skills gap

A focus on upskilling employees is the best way to improve retention and close any skills gaps your company has. Once you have a good program in place, you can rethink your hiring practices and more judiciously bring in new developers. Finally, look into nearshoring as a way to fill in remaining gaps or free up your workers to complete more training. A strong workforce that stays on top of the latest technology is the key to a sharp competitive edge in a field fighting for top talent.

Related: Why You Need to 'Upskill' to Keep on Top of Trends

Steve Taplin

CEO of Sonatafy Technology

Steve Taplin is the CEO of Sonatafy Technology (www.sonatafy.com), a premier nearshore software-development-services firm that provides its clients with expertise in cloud solutions, web and mobile applications, ecommerce, big data, DevOps practices, QA, IoT and machine learning.

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