What CIOs Think About the Talent Shortage

Community Blog
Written by Liz Ramey

AUGUST 30, 2022

On our Executive Summit agendas this spring, we noticed a common thread across CIO communities – a desire to talk about talent. The number one priority for CIOs remains cybersecurity, but nevertheless, one of our most popular and highly-rated sessions was a talent workshop, where CIOs came together to brainstorm about how to find and keep top employees.

According to Gartner, C-suite leaders want “to power out of the pandemic with technology driven growth,” and to do that, CIOs need skilled employees – especially in certain areas, such as cybersecurity. Gartner research also found that “three-quarters of newly hired IT employees had at least two other offers in addition to the one they accepted.” This increased level of need and more competition for employees has created a race to get the best talent.

We asked CIOs in our Evanta communities if they are experiencing a talent shortage, how long they think it will last, and what can be done to compete. Here are 4 key findings from more than 200 CIOs who responded to our survey about the current talent landscape.

1. Is there a shortage of skilled workers for IT leaders?

CIOs pretty resoundingly said that there is a high need for workers right now, with 76% indicating that their organization has more open positions now than in years’ past. Eighteen percent report that the current level of open roles is typical, and only 6% said that they do not have more open positions than in past years.

When we asked what was behind this high demand, CIOs echoed the Gartner finding about coming out of the pandemic strong, commenting that “accelerated digital transformation is requiring different skills” and “overall great demand for technology professionals to accelerate digital transformation.”

2. Is it expected to be a short-term or long-term issue?

Senior technology leaders were somewhat mixed on the longevity of the race for the talent, but 40% believe the shortage “will remain this way for the foreseeable future” – indicating that they don’t think it’s a temporary blip, but possibly a more structural problem. Almost one-third (29%) say this shortage will last for 12 months or more.

As one CIO noted, “There has been a long-term imbalance with respect to talent being trained in fields that can lead to IT paths.”

3. What if there’s a recession?

We were curious to know if CIOs still think there would be a shortage of skilled talent if there were a recession declared this year, and 62% of senior IT leaders said yes, the talent shortage will still be an issue.

Fifteen percent of IT leaders said no, and 23% indicated they don’t know. One CIO offered the contrarian view, saying, “There are more jobs than talent and more flexibility than ever to work remotely, so workers can easily move to a better or higher paying role. I believe that will change as the economy cools and hiring slows down.”

4. What can CIOs do to find and keep employees?

The strategies to recruit – and retain – employees have remained very close to how CIOs told us they were managing through the Great Resignation in our survey last fall. Top recruitment strategies include promoting company culture (82%) and offering flexible work arrangements (75%), followed by offering competitive compensation and benefits (66%).

Several CIOs noted that the increase in remote work had led to their organizations competing with new companies for the same talent, if employees can work from anywhere. One IT leader explained, “Now that we see massive flexibility in work locations – our talent can take positions all over the country (and globe).”

Another shared that “COVID-19 has taught us that people can work effectively from anywhere. The ability to work remotely provides more opportunities for people to consider and companies that offer that flexibility will stand to benefit the most.”

Retention strategies are also very consistent to what we learned from CIOs last fall, with IT leaders focusing on offering more flexibility (73%), reviewing compensation and benefits (71%) and improving company culture and employee engagement (69%).

Overall, CIOs seem to think there’s more to the race for talent than a trend. These are some of their comments in the survey: 

I think the Great Resignation has now changed into the Great Migration. People aren't just quitting jobs, they are moving jobs for location, flexibility, work choice, etc.”

For IT and digital, the situation will continue for years. It's very different from the early 2000s where mainly start ups were affected. Now IT and digital are fundamental in all companies across all industries.”

To learn more about the survey results, check out the infographic, or you can find an upcoming discussion on topics like talent with other CIO peers here.

Liz Ramey headshot

Liz Ramey

Director, Content at Evanta, a Gartner Company