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3 smart ways to keep top IT talent from leaving

October 01, 2014
By Lisa Dare

This is the question that should (and probably does) keep IT leaders awake at night: Are your best IT staff thinking about leaving?

Our research shows you have reason to fear the worst. IT professionals, particularly ones with in-demand skills, are approached every week with job offers. Furthermore, they’re considering taking them.

What three steps can you take now to increase the odds your best IT staff will hang around?

Question your assumptions. Understand what IT professionals really want—it’s probably not what you think. When asked, IT workers ranked their relationships with coworkers as their favorite aspect of the job. How can you benefit? Provide plenty of opportunities for your team to socialize and collaborate. At TEKsystems, we take particular pride in fostering a team spirit. The investments of time and money we put into building teams has paid off in being able to retain our top employees.  

Know also that fear drives some IT workers to switch jobs. IT workers worry about keeping pace with technological change, fearing they’ll be left behind if the technology they work on becomes obsolete. Give your IT stars the opportunity to learn and keep their skills fresh without having to change jobs. Let them train on new skills, lead new kinds of projects and cross-train with other workers.  

Manage BYOD, manage stress. Mid- and entry-level IT workers ranked stress their No. 1 cause for complaint this year. In fact, 81 percent of IT workers (and 69 percent of senior IT pros) report that stress might send them looking for a new position—even one that comes with a paycut.

The expectation IT workers make themselves available 24/7 causes the most tension, especially for senior IT leaders. There are a lot of simple and relatively pain-free ways to unburden them of the need to stay glued to their phones on weekends and holidays; it could be as simple as agreeing that true emergencies warrant a phone call, and responding to emails can wait for business hours.

Rethink career pathing. Your best developer shouldn’t have to give up coding and take on a project manager position to earn more prestige or money. No one’s interests are served when a person who excels at technical projects takes a project manager position just for the pay increase.

And don’t kid yourself that your company’s annual 3 percent “merit increase” is keeping employees motivated to perform better, learn more or hang around longer. Provide true performance increases that keep up with your IT staff’s growing skills or responsibilities, even when their job titles don’t change. And don’t forget to benchmark yearly to make sure you’re keeping up with market rates.

Need more advice? TEKsystems recruiters and account managers have a unique perspective on the IT workforce—we engage in thousands of conversations each week and invest in original research. You can learn more about conditions affecting your local market from our local offices. We can help with benchmarking salaries, crafting compelling employee value propositions and understanding trends in the local IT labor market. Contact us to learn how we can help you accomplish your IT goals. 

Or why not read up on how to save budget on IT salaries by using your existing IT team more effectively?

Lisa Dare is a marketing writer for TEKsystems who enjoys learning about IT from some of the smartest folks in the business. Lisa frequently blogs about IT talent management and careers, as well as the lighter side of technology.

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