4 Highlights from CIOs in our Talent Strategy Survey

Community Blog
Written by Liz Ramey

NOVEMBER 28, 2023

At the start of this year, CIOs in Evanta communities faced economic uncertainty, high inflation and the challenge to do more with less and still achieve their goals. Generative AI and return-to-office policies were two more hot topics that soon followed. All of these issues in some way or another impact the need – and the ability to find – skilled, talented workers. 

We wondered how all of these factors might affect CIOs and their need to recruit and retain talent at their organizations. In our most recent Community Pulse Survey, we asked CIOs across Evanta communities about their talent strategies now and for the future. 

Here are 4 highlights from the results, in which more than 300 IT executives shared their thoughts on talent management.

1. Skilled Roles Seem Harder to Fill

Close to half, or 49% of CIOs, say that the skilled roles in their organizations are harder to fill currently, while 34% believe that it’s about the same as prior years. Seventeen percent believe it’s not harder to fill roles now.

2. Recruiting Workers vs. Retaining Them

Recruiting seems slightly more challenging than retention, as 61% of technology executives report that recruiting is “somewhat challenging,” and 34% describe it as “very challenging.” Only 5% of CIOs say that recruiting skilled workers is not challenging right now. 

In terms of retaining workers, 69% say it’s somewhat challenging, but a much smaller percentage – 12% – report that it’s very challenging. Nineteen percent think that retention is not challenging for their organization. 

3. A Key Focus Area: Upskilling & Reskilling

CIOs cited multiple strategies to help fulfill the need for talent, with 23% reporting that they are upskilling or reskilling current employees. Twenty percent said they are focused on retaining workers in key roles, and 15% are “quiet hiring” or promoting people internally.

In the comments under “Other” strategies, CIOs mentioned “contract-to-hire” opportunities, a “focus on interns,” and developing “apprenticeships.” Interestingly, many of the comments seemed to follow the theme of developing talent.

On a related note, 61% of CIOs are either very or somewhat confident in their ability to upskill or reskill the workforce. Twenty-seven percent remain neutral in their views on how effectively their organization will upskill workers, and only 2% of IT leaders say that their company does not have a strategy in place for upskilling.

4. What’s Impacting CIOs’ Talent Strategy?

When we asked CIOs what they think is impacting their ability to find and retain skilled employees, 33% said it is the need for specific skills, such as in cybersecurity or data. Twenty-five percent attribute it to a lack of resources or budget, and 22% of CIOs felt that their organization’s workplace policies, such as returning to the office, could be a factor.

In the comments under “Other” possible factors, CIOs wrote that “competitors are paying a lot more,” and their organization needs to “consider hiring in wider geographies.” Another executive said that there was “a shortage of time to nurture talent.”

Forward-Looking Talent Strategies

At the end of the survey, we asked CIOs about their talent strategies and if they had changed after the past few tumultuous years in the workforce. (In recent years, we have asked how they’ve been impacted by the Race for Talent and the Great Resignation, as well.) 

Here is a sample of their thoughts on talent strategies:

We have become location agnostic and no longer specify location on job descriptions. Brings its own challenges, but opens up the available pool of candidates. We have a compelling overall Employee Value Proposition, but are working on presenting it clearly.”

We have introduced a highly flexible policy on location. Colleagues can choose if and when they come into the office. Colleagues can also within reason work very flexible hours. The policy is extremely popular and is a strong retention benefit.”

Upskilling and better workforce management analysis, AI, and tools, along with better forecasts on needs and skill requirements. Not following the trends but setting the trends.”

The Great Attraction – we want to be cool to work for and be a magnet for talent by opening up our requirements, supporting non-traditional pathways and going where the talent is.”

If you find insights like these from your CIO peers valuable, check out your regional Evanta CIO community and apply to join. We also have a busy fall season of executive programs available – explore an upcoming opportunity to get together with your CIO peers.

Liz Ramey headshot

Liz Ramey

Sr Director, Content at Evanta, a Gartner Company