TechServe Alliance reports that IT employment hit another high-note in April, with 4.4+ million people working in the industry. Those numbers almost guarantee that the competition for top IT talent will continue to be heated and that finding the best workers with the most in-demand skills will remain challenging. The corollary to this is always that retention becomes equally, if not more, important and as much effort as you put in to recruiting, you need to match it in ensuring you retain your best and most critical employees.
I’ve covered this topic before in Staffing 360, offering whatever advice I can give since I know the challenges firsthand, as a business owner myself and working on the frontlines of recruiting. (Employee Retention: Perception vs. Reality; The Key to IT Contractor Retention.) Last week another article on the subject caught my eye at CIO.com – 8 Tips for Retaining Top IT Talent. Here are their suggestions:
- Include them in decisions
- Don’t micromanage
- Offer flexible work hours
- Invest in training
- Provide access to new technologies
- Give praise and acknowledge contributions
- Offer free stuff
- Provide a competitive compensation package
I’ve mentioned many of the things on the list before and seeing others give the same advice is always a nice reassurance, particularly since many of them do not involve big dollar expenditures, something that I have also often preached the value of. It’s no surprise to see flexible work hours on the list, the desire for that cuts across the entire business landscape these days, but “including them in decisions” and “not micromanaging” may make some people pause. It shouldn’t though; it’s just another way of making your employee feel valued and appreciated (see #6 on the list). When it comes to the smart, creative people in our industry, being treated this way takes on added importance. The suggestion to invest in training is music to my ears – I’ve banged on that drum for a long while – and access to new and innovative technologies is also something I’ve touted as important to keeping technology workers engaged. Of course, the inevitable incentive of money is on the list as well, as it should be. But it isn’t all about the $$$. One suggestion they give is tying bonuses to specific projects or milestones throughout the year, rather than only annually. On benefit is that rewarding people in this way creates a more continuous feeling of appreciation and avoids the peaks and valleys.
Read the whole article to get their full take on each piece of advice if you have time but at least take these 8 things and think about how you can implement them in your business, with both your permanent and contingent IT employees. As the summer heats up, the competition for talent will too. Don’t be caught unprepared!
President and CEO
Having trouble retaining your best IT employees? Download: 6 Things You Can Do to Dramatically Increase IT Contractor Retention
This week I read a post on recruiter.com, The Real Reasons your Employees are Leaving You. Author Maren Hogan references a recent infographic by Paycom that discusses the issue of “pull” versus “push” for why employees leave and reports on their survey results. A “push” is when an employee leaves for reasons related to their current job and company as opposed to being “pulled” by an outside offer that tantalizes. Paycom says that 94% of employees report voluntarily leaving for a push reason rather than a pull.
As Ms. Hogan points out, this is a big number that deserves consideration. This means that 94% of employees are not tempted by better offers from other companies but rather by dissatisfaction with their current company. I think that may be a surprise to many. I think the perception is often that it’s hard to compete with an outside offer and once, as Hogan says, an employee hears that “siren’s song” they’re gone, but the truth is more complex than that and suggests that an employer’s behavior and policies are a bigger factor. Paycom reports that the top four “push” reasons were:
- Lack of trust in senior leadership
- Insufficient pay
- Unhealthy / undesirable culture
- Lack of concern for development
This also means that employers have more influence in retaining employees than they may realize. As a business owner, or someone in a management position, you can do things that can directly counteract these four areas of potential dissatisfaction.
Let’s tackle the salary concern first. This is an area of constant tension between employers and employees and one of the most important factors is that both sides should be realistic. You can’t pay everyone top dollar but it certainly behooves you to identify your key people or mission critical positions and ensure that you understand the current marketplace for that talent and are in line with salary ranges or you will lose people. You don’t want to wait until someone already has an offer and then have to match or more likely better it. Being informed and proactive in ensuring that salaries (and benefits too) are competitive can save you money in the long run. The cost of finding and training new employees is significant.
Fortunately you can make headway in the other three areas without necessarily incurring significant costs. Lack of trust in senior leadership is often a communication issue. How does your company communicate its values, mission statement, and goals for the year? Do you engage in regular communication? Do you survey your employees and provide opportunities for upward feedback and suggestions for improvements? How open and transparent you are about the company’s plans for the future and how effectively you inspire and make your whole team feel included can make a big difference in employee satisfaction.
If you communicate well and listen to what your staff has to say, you’ll likely know if you have a problem with your company’s culture. Once you are aware there is a problem, fix it. If you have a broken department or a toxic manager, you simply must address the problem and change the situation or you will lose, and probably more than just an employee or two. An unhealthy work environment also affects productivity, customer service, and ultimately your bottom line.
Finally, employees consistently mention career development as a top concern and, again, you can do a lot of good by listening to what your employees are looking for and finding ways to provide. Most people want the opportunity to challenge themselves, to stretch their skills and learn something new. Obviously an employee has to start by performing the job they’ve been hired to do but giving people the chance to try new things or work on an interesting project is one of the ways to help them develop and grow and in the long run, that’s a good thing for the company overall. Whether you provide training opportunities, tuition reimbursement, or are just understanding when an employee needs to leave on time for class, supporting efforts to improve is another way that you can demonstrate concern for your employee’s development.
None of this may be news to you but it is certainly a good reminder that we have more control than we may think over employee retention. It’s not possible to eliminate it but there are many things that you can do to help reduce it, especially among your key top performers. Make sure you aren’t helping to push them out.
President and CEO
Download our eGuide on how to select the best staffing firms for your program: 6 Best Practices for Selecting Excellent Staffing Suppliers.
IT contract employee retention is an ongoing concern, or should be for any smart manager. Losing a member of your team before the project is complete is a headache no one needs. We’ve covered this topic before at Staffing 360, particularly in 6 Things You Can Do to Dramatically Increase IT Contractor Retention. I’d like to remind you of one of the pieces of advice from our eGuide – recognizing exceptional performance, and share a recent experience that illustrates this.
Our client, a leading financial institution, contacted us to tell us how happy they were with one of our IT consultants, a QA Analyst who just completed six months of an 18-month assignment related to the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA). They appreciated his willingness to travel and commented that he had “really done a lot for our organization, developing some great relationships with our development and business partners.” They also specifically asked us “to recognize…his above and beyond performance for our team.” I am so grateful when a client shares this kind of positive feedback and was more than happy to do so.
We know the value of this type of recognition; it motivates people to continue to achieve and increases loyalty and retention. But the nature of the contingent workforce model means we can’t do it without our clients’ help. We expect our IT consultants to meet high performance standards on an ongoing basis, so hearing nothing (i.e., no complaints!) just means you are satisfied. Unless you tell us, we won’t necessarily know that you are more than satisfied with someone in particular. When you take the time to let us know that one of our IT contractors has performed exceptionally well, we can recognize and reward that performance, and we both benefit from a happier, motivated worker.
Many companies understand the importance and benefits of employee recognition and have formal programs for their permanent workforce but may not be doing all they can with regard to their contingent employees, often out of fear and misinformation. The way things were handled above, with the client communicating and the staffing firm acting is exactly correct and allows you to appropriately acknowledge outstanding work while staying on the right side of IC classification and co-employment rules.
As we advise in our eGuide, efforts to retain the best employees must be continuous and utilize a variety of approaches; employee recognition is only one of them but it can be a powerful tool. If you’ve been putting off telling someone how happy you are with their recent performance, write that email today. It’ll feel good and you’ll be increasing the likelihood of retaining that person. And if it is one of ATR’s IT contractors that has impressed you – then by all means, please let me know, ASAP!
Download: 6 Things You Can Do to Dramatically Increase IT Contractor Retention
President and CEO