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How to Retain Your Top IT Employees

Want to Retain Your Best Employees? Keep Them Happy and Engaged at Work

According to economist David Birch, “the average college graduate will have 12 jobs by the time they are 50.” That equates to employees changing jobs every 2.5 years.

That’s a sobering statistic for IT managers. Turnover costs you time and money, not to mention the hassle of recruiting, interviewing and hiring. If job-hopping has become the new norm for employees, what can you do to keep your best team members happy and engaged? While some job moves may be out of your control, below are techniques and tactics you can use to increase employee retention and reduce the chance of your star employee flying the coup.

Understand Why Great Employees Leave
There are many reasons why employees leave. But two reasons you may not have given enough weight to include:

1. They feel unappreciated

According to a Yahoo! Small Business Advisor article, employees feel unappreciated when management:

  • Never acknowledges the work done or says thank you
  • Consistently criticizes work without any compliments to add motivation
  • Praises other employees on a regular basis
  • Yells at or otherwise mistreats the employee

2. The employee holds unrealistic expectations

Did you paint too rosy of a picture during the interviewing process? While you don’t want to scare away potential employees, it’s important to be up front about the job and the company to give a realistic 360-degree view of the position.

Improve Employee-Manager Relations
There’s a saying that goes, “employees don’t leave companies, they leave managers.” Ouch. Whether you know it or not, you play an integral role in creating and establishing healthy work relationships. A simple compliment—“thank you,” “nice work,” or “well done”—can go a long way.

According to the Globoforce Workforce Mood Tracker™, 78% of U.S. workers said being recognized for their good work motivates them in their job. In fact, Google (notorious for the perks they provide), came out with a surprising list of what employees valued most at work: “even-keeled bosses who made time for one-on-one meetings, who helped people puzzle through problems by asking questions, not dictating answers, and who took an interest in employees’ lives and careers.” 

Learn to Read the Signs
Most employees don’t leave on a whim. They usually make the decision to start searching for other opportunities, interviewing with other companies, and accepting another job after a great amount of internal debate.

Ways to tell if employees may have “checked out” or are thinking about leaving include:

  • They are frequently late, absent or sick
  • Production drops
  • They seem more quiet than usual
  • Less participation
  • Their behavior changes significantly

Take Exit Interviews Seriously
Exit interviews can give incredible insight into uncovering recurring internal issues and problems. While you may be ready to dismiss the employee and move on with filling the position, you should take the exit interview process seriously.

An exit interview can be structured with a set of pre-determined interview questions, or it can be an informal conversation. Always work to preserve the relationship when an employee resigns. You never know if the employee may return or end up being a valuable recruiting and referral source in the future.

Additional Ideas for Improving Employee Retention

Further ideas for improving employee retention:

  • Conduct regular anonymous employee or team surveys
  • Ask for feedback on a consistent basis
  • Have regular touch points with your best people
  • Take action when other employees aren’t pulling their weight or aren’t cutting it; one bad apple in the barrel can ruin the whole team
  • Foster employee and career development
  • Give employees a reason to be loyal

Proactively planning different strategies for holding on to your best employees is an important responsibility. Taking the time to implement these tips, tactics and techniques will be a worthy investment for you, your company and your team.


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