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Are IT leaders to blame for poor staff retention?

November 03, 2015
By TEKsystems

It’s a commonly accepted “fact” that the tight IT labor market is to blame for poor IT staff retention. But our new research suggests companies’ inaction and lack of communication might actually be a major part of the problem.

We surveyed more than 400 IT leaders and 1,500 IT professionals to find out where things are going wrong, and uncovered a big disconnect in IT leaders’ and their staffs' perception of key retention programs.

IT managers and directors believe talent management activities like formal onboarding, performance management and succession programs are important tools in retaining staff. They also cite articulating clear value propositions for working for the company—beyond compensation—that include helping workers feel a sense of purpose, access interesting projects and learn new skills, as useful in retaining staff. IT workers heartily concur, but the agreement ends there.

Incredibly, IT leaders and IT staff disagree about whether retention programs even exist. IT leaders consistently believe talent management programs (e.g., formal onboarding and offboarding, performance management, succession management) are being implemented at a far higher rate than IT professionals observe. For instance, while 65 percent of IT leaders report their organization has a formal onboarding program, only 37 percent of IT professionals think that’s true.

Compensation plus

Don’t kid yourself—87 percent of IT workers still rate compensation as the most significant reason to stay or go. But employee value propositions (EVPs) can help organizations give IT workers a reason to stay beyond money. An effective EVP helps staff find meaning in their work, and highlights access to interesting projects the ability to acquire new skills. IT professionals at organizations with clear EVPs are 65 percent more satisfied with career opportunities and, amazingly, 41 percent more satisfied with their compensation. But only 31 percent of IT leaders and 39 percent of IT professionals agree their organization has clearly articulated the EVP. 

Soft benefits programs aid IT retention—if employees know about them

IT leaders say their organizations offer a wide variety of programs that benefit employees, but only a fraction of IT professionals are aware of them. For example, 78 percent of IT leaders report their organization offers education, training or development—but only 38 percent of IT professionals say the same. This chart demonstrates the gap between what IT leaders say they offer and what IT workers perceive:

IT retention benefits programs

Is your company doing all it can to engage and retain your IT talent? If you already have good programs in place, then it’s possible you need to commit more time to clearly communicating them to your staff. 

What else did the IT retention survey uncover?

View the infographic

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