Tesco's IT director has rejected golden handcuffs for staff as a way to cope with the growing skills crisis in IT and has called for retail industry co-operation on Year 2000 issues.
Ian O'Reilly is spending #30 million over three years to solve Tesco's Year 2000 problems but says so far he has not had a significant problem finding the necessary skills.
"We obviously do lose some staff but we will not do what I consider to be negative lock-in - rather than just financial offerings, I would rather have a more positive buy-in," said O'Reilly.
However, to help combat the Year 2000 crisis O'Reilly has called on other retailers to work together on solutions. He said he would be willing to be part of a retail industry organisation to discuss solutions to different Year 2000 problems.
He also called for co-ordination of effort between competing retailer's IT departments on issues, such as contacting common IT vendors and goods suppliers on Year 2000 compliance.
"At the end of the day I don't particularly want Unilever to get a letter from me and every other IT manager at food retailers saying exactly the same thing. We might as well just somehow try to work together," said O'Reilly.
On the skills issue he is critical of organisations that offer straight monetary rewards to keep staff and believes structured career paths and a positive working environment where everyone has a role in direction and decision making can keep staff loyal.
"The way we work within the organisation and the variety of what we do for me is a more positive way to retain staff than giving them a pair of golden handcuffs. Our attitude is certainly different to the two or three companies I have seen reported as doing this," he said.
Recently a number of organisations, including Cheltenham and Gloucester and Leeds City Council, have offered staff loyalty bonuses in some cases up to #20,000.
O'Reilly said he has just set up a working party to look at the issue of skill shortages as he foresees it could become a problem in the future.
"Especially with a young IT workforce, money is important and if we did not pay with the market then we would not retain staff. But we want to focus on personal development, training, different experiences, and giving people roles in the business rather than just the concept of a job," he said.
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