4 ways to retain IT talent in 2019

Trying to hold onto star IT talent in the new year? Look hard at your learning culture and work-life balance, for starters
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The quit rate in the United States recently reached a 17-year high, and the unemployment rate in technology is only 2.4 percent, as of this November. With the state of the labor market today, employers are increasingly concerned with retaining technology talent. LaSalle Network surveyed more than 4,000 technologists to discover what motivates them to look elsewhere, and what they’re seeking in a future company and role.

You can use the results to strengthen your talent strategy – which is particularly important at this time of year as many people consider a new year a great time for a new job.

76 percent of technologists say they're open to new opportunities.

While most respondents (64 percent) to the LaSalle survey stated they were satisfied or very satisfied with their overall happiness at their current employers, 76 percent were also open to new opportunities. This illustrates that although technologists can appear to be content in their current roles, they may already have one foot out the door.

Which factors entice employees to look elsewhere? How can employers use this information to retain their technology talent? Let’s look closely:

1. Create a stronger benefits package

The top reason respondents stated they are open to new opportunities is to seek a better benefits package. To retain top performers, employers can enhance their offerings to meet the needs of their employees.

Evaluate which benefits the organization is offering and seek feedback from staff. Ask about the benefits that are most important to them, or if there are any that are missing. As demographics in the workforce shift, it’s essential to analyze what keeps employees engaged. Benefits that were important in the past may not be as valuable as they once were. So seek out the opinion of employees across generations.

Tech talent values flexibility and autonomy, so think about instituting a work-from-home policy or allowing employees to work a condensed work week to give them more work-life balance.

[ Perks may be crucial to an individual's overall compensation package. Read IT salary extras: 5 perks worth pursuing. ]

2. Create a culture of learning

When evaluating aspects of company culture, learning, growth, and development ranked as most important.

According to the study, when evaluating aspects of company culture, learning, growth, and development ranked as the most important factor to technologists. Consider investing in training for 2019 to increase retention. In addition, encourage employees to attend industry conferences, networking groups or classes that can elevate their professional development. Survey results show that technologists value growth and want to continuously learn, which makes sense due to the rapidly changing landscape in technology.

Employees can also gain valuable knowledge from cross-training with team members who have expertise in different areas. For example, a data scientist may demonstrate SQL knowledge to a colleague in cloud computing. Informal training sessions between groups can be a cost-effective way for organizations to help employees develop.

Encourage employees to attend meetups or hack-a-thons, or better yet, host your own hack-a-thon to allow employees to stretch their skills and try new projects. If an employee expresses interest in moving up into management, encourage them to talk with other business units or sit in on meetings to improve their business acumen. Many technologists want to earn certifications to keep their skills up to date, so if possible, consider paying for or subsidizing the cost of attaining these.

[ Want more advice on this? Read 7 ways to foster a culture of learning in IT. ]

3. Communicate career paths

One in four technologists stated they were dissatisfied or very dissatisfied with career paths at their current employer. IT professionals are eager to progress in their careers and take on new challenges. When you identify high-potential employees, meet with them and be transparent about what their future may hold. It can look different at each organization, but the goal is to develop a plan for top talent that allows them to visualize their career paths and goals at their current company – rather than looking elsewhere.

If an employee has the potential to become a manager, director, or even the CIO or CSO one day, let them know.

Ideally, managers should discuss career paths frequently with employees and be open about their progress. If an employee has the potential to become a manager, director, or even the CIO or CSO one day, let them know. There may be opportunities for these leaders to act as mentors, which can help technologists visualize what it takes to elevate their career.

On the other hand, maybe a software developer doesn’t want to move into management but is interested in making a lateral move and learning new skills. It’s important to communicate options so that good talent doesn’t leave because they don’t think they can get what they want out of their career at your organization.

4. Promote work-life balance

Respondents who stated they were not open to new opportunities ranked work-life balance as the number-one factor that keeps them from leaving their current companies. Flexibility programs have been proven to create more happiness at work, and less burnout and psychological stress. If the organization offers flexible hours, encourage employees to take advantage.

[ Is your balance out of whack? Read 8 ways to reclaim sanity at work and home. ]

Many technologists value opportunities to unplug so they can recharge. Benefits like PTO and opportunities to work remotely can also promote work-life balance. Evaluate what can be added or changed in the organization’s benefits package to help technologists take time for themselves and ultimately feel more engaged at work.

As opportunities in technology continue to boom, use these tools to keep your best people. Listening to which benefits employees appreciate most, creating a culture of learning, communicating career paths, and promoting work-life balance can propel the organization’s success in the year to come. Want more data? Download more information from LaSalle on attracting and retaining technologists: https://bit.ly/2QQjSIp.

Paul Wallenberg is the Senior Manager of Technology Services at LaSalle Network, a national staffing, recruiting, and culture firm specializing in the technology space. Paul has nearly 8 years of experience working with hundreds of technology job seekers as well as top companies looking for the best tech talent.