Retaining Top Talent: Four Factors to Consider in Retention Strategies for Tech Employees

When it comes to retaining tech employees, good help is hard to find – but it can be harder to keep.

With employment rates for information technology professionals at 3 percent or lower, just about any tech employee who wants a job has one—and they can easily find another if they desire.

Competition for IT employees requires you to proactively protect your talent from poaching, particularly by competitors. Researchers have found that employee turnover may cost as much as 150 percent of salary, as measured by actual recruiting costs and intangible losses like in lost productivity and knowledge.  Vacancies also undermine morale among existing employees who must assume additional responsibilities, thereby creating pressure that could drive them to leave as well.

Still, fewer than half of employers have a formal retention strategy, according to consulting firm Towers Watson. Consider these four factors when formulating your retention strategy.

1) Culture

Information technology professionals used to be spread across an organization.  Now, they are consolidated in a department, which is indicative of their increased importance.

Technology used to support the business but now it is the business.  With companies depending on technology to run the business day-to-day, technology professionals are involved in all key decisions.  An appealing company culture is essential is retaining IT employees, given their work as a team as well as their exposure to other departments.  Emphasize innovation, collaboration and recognition when creating a culture conducive for retaining top tech talent.

  • Assign projects that are new, fresh and exciting.
  • Encourage breaks from stressful work by providing amenities like ping-pong tables and video games in the office.
  • Foster team building through out-of-the-office activities like paintball or go-cart racing
  • Prioritize daily goals in stand-up meetings at the start of the day and assess progress at the end.
  • Provide collaborative environments like huddle rooms with tables and big screen TVs, or lounges with overstuffed chairs and couches.
  • Recognize employees for exceptional effort and/or excellent performance, through both formal awards and informal gestures like commending their work in front of their colleagues.

2) Communication

Tech employees value clear expectations, honest feedback and genuine recognition. They want to know that they are helping your company fulfill its mission—and that their work matters.

Set measurable objectives that align individual and team performance with organizational goals.  Your employees’ deadlines, work loads and achievements should further your company’s pursuit of its revenue and profitability targets, for example.  Demonstrate to your staff how their ability to meet deadlines determines whether those goals are met, and how all employees are affected if they do or do not.  Retain top talent by fostering goal-oriented, performance-centric, two-way communication.

  • Actively listen to employees’ concerns and affirm that you understand them
  • Conduct performance reviews more than just once a year, otherwise problems could linger and opportunities could be missed.
  • Solicit employees’ suggestions for improving your products and services.
  • Survey employees on their satisfaction regularly.
  • Teach managers to provide constructive feedback.
  • Train supervisors how to identify and reduce stressors for employees.

3) Competency

Career development is the No. 1 factor in employee retention, according to a survey of 6,400 employees conducted by consultants Sharon Jordan-Evans and Beverly Kaye.  Studies have also shown that 40 percent of employees who receive poor job training leave their positions within the first year.

Top tech talent wants to learn and grow.  Hire IT professionals who are best suited to your organization’s needs and then help them develop new skills so that they can further their growth and yours.

  • Create a career development plan for each employee
  • Invest in the newest technologies and applications so that employees can sharpen their skills.
  • Pair senior staff with less experienced IT professionals to foster peer-to-peer learning
  • Pay for technology certification courses, even for new hires.
  • Provide online training opportunities
  • Send employees to seminars, including those out-of-town.

4) Compensation

Creating a rewarding work environment may be the biggest factor in retaining top talent but salary and benefits are your largest investments.  You must pay for performance.

Tech employees weigh more than dollars in deciding whether to stay or go though, as they prefer to feel as if they are cared for comprehensively.  They appreciate your interest in their health and well-being as much as they do their paychecks.

  • Consider customizing benefits packages in accordance with each employee’s priorities, dependent on the size of your organization.
  • Evaluate your benefits package annually, including health insurance, retirement plan and vacation
  • Feed them meals and snacks.
  • Offer freebies like babysitting, spa services and tickets to sporting and entertainment events.
  • Review compensation levels locally and industry wide each year.
  • Tie employee bonuses to the attainment of individual, team and company goals.

Retaining talent is just as important as attracting it, and no less difficult.  Measure retention, including by supervisor, so that you can identify excessive churn relative to your organization and industry.  Then create a retention strategy centered on employees’ growth, contributions and rewards.

You will not keep every employee.  But you can keep employees happy, productive and loyal.

About the Author

Lee Shipman

Lee is Director of Business Development at Providence Technology Solutions. He has a strong background in the staffing industry, and has focused his efforts in healthcare IT & information technology.

Lee has held roles in executive management, business development, and sales operations throughout his career.  He is a forward-thinking business executive with stellar record of success in leading business development initiatives and executing plans to explode sales and profitability. He is a respected, visionary leader; a recognized “business builder” who has built successful teams in companies throughout his career.

About Providence Technology Solutions

An affiliate of The HCI Group, a global leader in healthcare IT that provides cost-effective solutions for healthcare IT implementations and ongoing support, Providence Technology Solutions evolved to develop strategic partnerships outside of healthcare.

Providence Technology Solutions provides staff augmentation and contract resources for customer relationship management (CRM), enterprise resource planning (ERP) and human capital management (HCM) implementations and training.

A cross-industry presence allows clients in numerous industries to benefit from best practices applied through the consulting and implementation services offered by Providence Technology Solutions, which it has honed through extensive experience providing high-quality IT solutions. For more information on Providence Technology Solutions, go to www.providencetechnologysolutions.com, Lee Shipman can be reached at Lee.Shipman@providencetechnologysolutions.com or 904-512-6448

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Lee Shipman is a Regional Vice President at Providence Technology Solutions.

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Posted in Charleston SC, Employee Retention, IT Staff Augmentation, IT Staffing, IT Talent, Jacksonville FL, lee shipman, lee shipman charleston, providence technology, Providence Technology Solutions, The HCI Group

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