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Halyk Bank: how to attract and retain IT specialists

JSC "Halyk Bank of Kazakhstan" ("Halyk Bank") is the largest universal commercial bank of the Republic of Kazakhstan, successfully working for the benefit of its customers for more than 97 years.

The history of the bank is the history of the formation and development of the  savings system of Kazakhstan.

In an overheated labor market, each company is  looking for its own methods of attracting and retaining IT specialists. Anton Musin, Chief Managing Director for IT and Innovation, told about what tools and methods Halyk Bank uses for this and which of them works best.

Over the past couple of years, Halyk Bank has launched a huge number of initiatives related to the development of solutions, new products, and the implementation of services. This requires resources, including human resources.

The IT team in the  bank is quite large, only more than 800 people work in the head office. However, these resources are still not enough. In addition, the bank faces the  problem of a very overheated labor market. Now the competition for IT specialists is so high that it is difficult to retain qualified employees. For example, the annual outflow of people engaged in front-end development is 30%, and the average period of work in the bank of an IOS development specialist is only 4 months!

One of  the ways to solve the problem with personnel was the creation of Halyk Academy, an educational platform for young IT professionals. The Bank has focused on working with young people and building a kind of "training pipeline". At first, we managed to agree on cooperation with two universities – the International University of Information Technology (IIT) and the Kazakh-British Technical University (KBTU). Then they were joined by Suleiman Demirel University (SDU).

The bank's experts analyzed the educational programs of universities, formed the so-called Halyk laboratories at the university sites, equipped them with equipment and, most importantly, cloud development tools in the Halyk Bank stack. That is, the guys can study right in the bank stack, get experience as close as possible to real working conditions.

Within the framework of Halyk Academy, the bank organizes master classes and training lectures on programming languages. This is not easy, as it is necessary to motivate the most powerful IT specialists of the bank to give lectures and  teach young guys, to talk about how the processes in the bank are arranged. It is necessary to show the young guys that the bank operates on modern stacks, is engaged in interesting tasks and is promising as an employer.

The launch of Halyk Academy made it possible to organize a "funnel" for attracting and selecting young specialists. The bank's experts, together with university teachers, analyze the results of the students who study at Halyk Academy, then some of the students receive offers. The bank has developed programs that allow for 3-4 months to turn an intern into a young "jun" who performs a specific job. Thus, the Academy ensures a constant turnover of personnel and their regular replenishment.

Of course, Halyk Academy is not a panacea, it is not able to solve all personnel problems. For example, the issue of further retention in the bank of "junov" is relevant, who have worked for about a year, gained experience and are beginning to receive offers from other companies with a salary offer 2-3 times higher than their salary at the current position in the bank. The same situation is with middle–level specialists – they are often outbid by other companies, so the severity of the problem of the outflow of IT specialists does not decrease.

What do they do in the bank in order to retain IT specialists? It is impossible to compete only at the expense of the salary level – this only warms up the market, wages are growing by tens of percent every year. Therefore, the bank tries, first of all, to provide experienced employees with more and more interesting projects. Another common practice is to transfer an employee to a position with different functionality and additional financial prospects.

The bank has the opportunity to give its employees a  preferential mortgage – and this is one of the best tools for retaining specialists at the moment, it works very well. Because few companies and even banks can afford it.

As for the shift schedule and remote work, Halyk Bank approaches this issue very carefully. Practice shows that IT specialists at a remote location often begin to take on additional projects from other employers. There are concerns that the bank will pay the  employee's salary, and he will work on 10-15 more third-party projects.

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