Retention is what wins the talent war

Growing the workforce is only part of the overall human capital question for companies in the government market because keeping the talent they have is what ultimately wins the day.

Recruiting new workers is only part of the battle in what is often spoken of as a war for talent in government contracting. Retaining them is what ultimately wins the day.

Which means companies have to pay particular attention to career development paths of their employees and how they acquire new technology skills often on their employers’ dollars, industry executives said Thursday at a Washington Business Journal breakfast event.

Human capital has become more front-and-center given Amazon’s standing up of its second headquarters in Washington, D.C. but many other factors were already there such as short supply of technically skilled people and changes in the technologies they work with.

Talent has been top of mind for since two-year-old Perspecta it opened for business through a merger of three businesses with much different cultures, from which a new culture had to be created that people want to work for and stay at.

During a fireside chat, CEO Mac Curtis said employee referrals are a metric that Perspecta keeps close tabs on. Thirty-five percent of the last 2,700 people Perspecta hired were through those employee referrals, he said.

Then there is how to keep the 14,000  and growing employees Perspecta has and help them continually gain new skills. Curtis said the company has increasingly emphasized certificates in specific technologies like the Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure clouds, as well as ServiceNow.

“Whatever we think is needed in that managed service environment. We pay for the course, we pay them to take it and we give them a bonus when they get it,” Curtis said.

As Curtis pointed out, the legacy Vencore piece of what is now Perspecta traces its roots to Lockheed Martin and General Electric Aerospace. Many of those workers were more likely to get masters’ degrees in aerospace or systems engineering.

Chantilly, Virginia-based Perspecta still supports employees who want to go down that post-graduate degree route, but what customers want is changing and thus the way employees get the skills to do that work also changes.

“If you want to play in the cloud transformation business, if you want to be Microsoft Gold or Amazon Premier, it’s not like it used to be,” Curtis added. “There’s a lot of training and certifications that you have to have.”

Perspecta is far from the only company involved in the government market that has the talent retention question high on the agenda, particularly as the nature of work changes.

“The skills that are in the workplace right now didn’t even exist 10 years ago,” said Charles Thomas, CEO of software engineering company Clear Cloud, during a panel discussion. “You have to be able to get people who can come in and are pure problem solvers. We don’t hire for a position per se, we hire for a skill set. There is the challenge of automation, full stack development, understanding cloud and understanding the security of cloud. So it’s much more nuanced now.”

Michelle O’Hara, chief human resources officer at Science Applications International Corp., said her company is focusing on creating the kind of employee experience that motivates them to go to work and resembles what they see outside of their job.

“Why I think digital is so important too is because you can’t have that huge contrast between what you experience at home versus what happens when you get to work,” O’Hara said. “We espouse innovation but if we don’t provide the infrastructure and experience that allows for agile, innovative thinking, then we haven’t delivered on that promise.”

Jeff Brody, ManTech International’s chief HR officer, touted his company’s partnerships with Purdue University Global and education technology outfit Skillsoft as tools in the toolbox to help continually iterate and advance employees’ skillsets.

But he cautioned that effort comes with a caveat, especially as employees update their LinkedIn profiles with new skills and certifications they acquire.

“Who do they get a call from? All the competition. So you have to have a very strong mobility program to move the talent to where that work content is, so they can practice what they learned,” Brody said.

“The other dimension is, managers don’t want to let go of this talent. So there are big cultural shifts that I see occurring across the landscape in terms of this whole upskilling and reskilling component because it’s not just about the pure mechanics of the process, it’s the whole ecosystem that comes with it.”

For its part, technology accelerator Dcode has focused on the community aspect of their workforce. Director of Operations Whitney Jones said the company switched from having performance-based bonuses to an employee profit pool instead that everyone shares at the year-end.

“We’re so mission-driven that we wanted to ensure that when people are at Dcode, even if you’re an administrative assistant or you are the VP of business development, I would say they’re all working toward the same goal,” Jones said.

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.