10 power moves for IT talent retention
Don’t wait until you see the waning signs. Adopt these power moves to keep your best employees happy right where they are.
1. Listen: “You don’t need any special tools to detect if an employee is unhappy; your best tools are your ears – listening can go a long way,” advises Coffey.
2. People want to work with up-to-date technology: “In terms of retaining IT talent, it has always been, and always will be, about the technology,” says Coffey. “Every IT employee has customer service at their core – they love being the ‘go-to’ people and the problem-solvers – and they want to do it with the latest technical advancements. Make sure the role you are offering will support this innate desire most IT professionals possess.”
3. Focus on employee well-being: “To prevent burnout, organizations should look to deliver a whole-person well-being program,” says Hamill. This might include:
- Providing recovery time between big IT rollouts
- Training managers to support well-being within their teams
- Building support systems between employees
- Addressing unreasonable deadlines and overwork (often associated with IT departments)
- Helping employees reconnect to their sense of purpose at work
4. Be proactive: “If you suspect an employee is considering the exit door, speak to them about it,” says Johns. “Ask them whether they’re happy in their current position and what their plans for the future are. Address their concerns. Figure out what’s wrong, and work to resolve it.
“For instance, if their commute is too long, offer them more flexibility by letting them work remote two or three times a week. If money is the issue, see if you can offer them more, or boost their perks to compensate.”
5. Support peer recognition: Success-motivated employees are highly driven by public acknowledgment of successes and achievements. Keep them pumped up and excited about succeeding,” says Chris Myers, CEO of Professional Alternatives, a Houston-based staffing and recruiting company.
6. Check in regularly: “Regular casual check-ins can help keep a healthy flow of communication going. You’ll more likely be aware of and understand their career goals as well as any struggles that could be causing dissatisfaction or burnout,” says Sutton.
“Make sure you’re doing regular checks on their salaries against market rates – are your team members being paid fairly? Are you keeping up with competitors? You can easily use resources to ensure not being outbid for your top talent.”
7. Find, and eliminate, a pain point: “Nobody likes the stresses that are often associated with the red tape of a corporate environment. Lower this as much as possible for your star employers and let them feel as though they are more mobile,” says Myers.
8. Switch things up: “Perhaps you can put them on a different team, give them a change in surroundings,” says David. “Allowing them to bring their ideas to another department, even temporarily, will help mentally reset them and could also infuse innovation in another part of the company.”
9. Give them a new challenge: “Most people think a raise will do it, but you can only pay people a little more to be miserable for so long,” says Joe Wilson, owner of Volare Systems. “You should include this valued employee in decision-making and trust them to perform – not try to coax them to stay with a 5-10 percent raise. Give the raise after giving more responsibilities, telling them they’ve earned it with the new duties.”
10. Say thanks – frequently: “Don’t underestimate the power of recognition. Say thank you for a job well done to remind your IT staff that their contributions to the company matter,” advises Sutton.
Know when to let them go
Even if you do everything above, it may not be enough to keep people for as long as you want. There are a number of valid reasons people switch jobs, and your support as their leader could mean more than you know to an individual making a tough choice in his or her career. Know when – and how – to let your best employee go.
“If you can’t convince them to stay, give them your blessing and give them a good recommendation,” says David. “If you’ve worked anywhere long enough, you know that sometimes people come back. Perhaps the new job wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. Either way, make sure they leave happy. This means they’ll be likely to recommend others to seek employment with you, but it also means they’ll be willing to come back if they find themselves on the market again.”