A “skills-short” local IT market is forcing employers to dig deep into their pockets when it comes to attracting and keeping top talent.

But money isn’t everything.

A positive company culture and non-monetary staff benefits are now both valuable tools for employers in the IT talent war.

That's according to recruitment company Robert Half, which surveyed 160 CIOs across Australia on job trends and talent management.

And the findings reaffirm what we already know: top talent isn’t cheap.

Half (50%) of all CIOs offer higher remuneration (base pay and/or bonuses) to attract top talent, while 48% will offer a higher salary when trying to retain their best.

The splurge on talent comes despite wage growth in the Australian IT sector growing at 3.3% – higher than the national average of 2.3%.

“As Australia’s IT sector booms, companies are calling for the highest calibre candidates to remain competitive, drive innovation and implement new technologies faster than ever before,” said Director of Robert Half Australia, Andrew Morris.

“Consequently, as top IT talent becomes more highly sought-after in Australia’s tightening IT talent pool, companies are required to offer competitive salaries in order to successfully attract, recruit and retain the most skilled and talented candidates.”

While remuneration is an obvious incentive for employees when choosing where they work, the research found that 39% of employers are now offering an enhanced work culture (which might include health and wellbeing programs) to attract talent and 42% offer additional employee benefits.

In terms of retention, 48% of bosses work to develop an enhanced culture and 38% are attributing more employee benefits.

“To be effective at attracting and retaining top talent, remuneration should be part of a wider, ongoing dialogue between employer and employee as the most appealing remuneration packages are those that are tailored and designed with individual employees in mind,” Morris said.

“Through open communication channels, employers can establish and implement incentives that appeal to individual motivations.

“This is especially true for millennial-aged workers who tend to favour professional development opportunities over a higher salary, and workers with children who may value increased annual leave and flexible hours more highly.”

The findings suggest there is still the perception of a skills shortage among CIOs, 87% reporting that it is more difficult to attract top IT talent today than it was five years ago.