How to Retain IT talent

Because of the increase in demand for IT professionals, your most talented employees have realized that they are at the top of their game when it comes to landing a position. Given the duration, resources, and money that goes into recruiting, it makes sense to prioritize retaining your best employees.

A company's commitment to employee retention is demonstrated via the implementation of policies and programs that reduce employee turnover

Companies that succeed in increasing employee retention rates have a competitive advantage in terms of reaching their overall goals. Increased employee retention can also be a major force behind hiring new employees. 

Having a well-established and well-executed employee retention strategy is crucial to a company's capacity to function at an optimum level without the disruptions that employee turnover brings, especially in a competitive IT market that is facing a major talent crunch.

Compensation plays an important role in attracting talent, but employees are not just after a high-paying job anymore; they want other things too, but what one desires from their employer is highly subjective. Without a doubt, a high salary is a compelling factor, but it is not the only factor that can motivate employees to stay for a considerable time. Factors like work culture, career progression, flexibility, and learning, among other things, play a crucial role in retaining IT talent.

The cost of employee turnover can be much greater than you can anticipate. It is not just the cost to get a new employee on board to work but also how much it costs to get that employee to work at the same level as an employee who has left, and that can take many months. What if this new employee who has become efficient decides to leave after gaining some experience, and you are back at square one. 

Hence, it is important to think of ways to retain top talent. Sharing below the strategies that can make an impact.

Strategies to Retain IT Talent

Identify Your Top Employees: High Performers and High Potential Employees (HIPO)

Identifying and maintaining high performers and high potential employees is vital for maintaining efficiency. It is critical to know which employees you can entrust with various tasks and projects in order to accomplish your company's goals. 

When you discover and develop high performers and high potential employees, you will see several benefits to business processes and activities.

High performers and high potential employees are two different terms and shouldn’t be used interchangeably. The key difference between the two is while high performers have mastery in their domain and seek more challenges within their area of expertise, high potential employees show traits of a promising candidate that can take a leadership role. 

On the one hand, high potential employees see themselves moving up the ladder to an authoritative position; such promotions are not much of a reward to high performers, as they may consider it as a means to stress, possibly because they like working solo or they lack leadership qualities. Hence it is not always a good idea to promote your high performers if they themselves do not like the idea of being promoted.

Both kinds are essential, but since their needs vary, so does their expectation in terms of rewards and benefits.

Companies spend a lot of money on such candidates yet may do little to retain them.

When these employees figure out that their jobs aren't rewarding them, they start looking for new jobs. They will never fail to impress a hiring manager who is looking for people with good experience and potential.

Having a clear demarcation of who your high performer employees and who your high potential employees are are important. Only with this knowledge will you be better able to accommodate their needs properly in order to retain them.

Acknowledge and Appreciate their Contribution

Motivation, efficiency, and retention are directly proportional to the recognition an employee gets for their hard work and efforts.

Taking the time to express gratitude to talented employees can be a simple and effective method to keep their spirits high. Your top talent may begin to feel demotivated if they are being treated the same as everyone else. Why should they strive to achieve higher levels of performance if no one is going to notice?

Employees are more likely to stay for a longer period if they feel acknowledged and appreciated for their contribution. 

IT heads must develop a culture where employees feel appreciated, respected, and prepared for success if they are to gain the trust, collaboration, and dedication they require from their team.

The listing below the ways with which you can appreciate your top talent:

  • Send a handwritten note for their contribution

  • Take them out for lunch or dinner

  • Send them a reward or gift coupon

If your top talent feels unappreciated or underappreciated for their hard work, they will look for opportunities elsewhere. Whatever you do to express your gratitude, do it sincerely, as that notion will speak for itself.

Re-define Perks and Benefits

Great perks can help you attract and retain high-caliber employees. 

Make your employees want to stay with you by offering them the perks and benefits they desire most. This will help them feel valued and appreciated. Employees that are happy at work tend to be more productive and creative and are less inclined to look for opportunities elsewhere.

Often used interchangeably, perks and benefits are not the same things. 

Benefits are often a type of non-wage compensation that supports the salary and cover necessities such as healthcare, life insurance, retirement savings, commuting costs, paid time off, and retirement savings plans.

Perks, on the other hand, are additional rewards or incentives offered in addition to salary and non-wage compensation. Perks are used by companies to persuade and motivate their employees. These can be flexible work schedules, remote or hybrid work options, employee discounts, paid parental leave, and free meals or snacks.

Perks are now a "must-have" for every company because employees are more demanding than ever.

While benefits remain more or less the same, companies differentiate their key offerings by coming up with innovative perks. The kind of perks you give can be a major contributor to your employer branding as well. 

Google, for example, has installed sleeping pods for their employees, and Netflix has introduced unlimited vacation time.

Giving the same kinds of perks as the big players is neither feasible nor practical for enterprises, so what you can do to attract and keep your top talent lies in the offerings they value the most. It can be something as practical as flexible work timing and a hybrid working model, if not remote.

Retention strategies involving opportunities to develop professionally while allowing a healthy work-life balance are highly treasured amongst today's workforce. 

Judge estimates that although 59% of IT employees choose to work remotely, only 17% prefer to work from the office.

Roll Out Stock-Based Compensations on Top of Salaries

You can up your game with stock-based Compensation to compete with your rival companies.

Stock-Based Compensation is a way to pay employees for their skills with shares in the company. It is used to motivate employees beyond regular Compensation like salary and bonus and to make them more aligned with the interest of the company. Employees who get shares usually have to wait a while before they can earn them and sell them, and that makes it a great part of the retention strategy. 

Some common compensations include ESOPs, SARs, RSUs, etc.

Employees do not have the right to the shares until a specified amount of time has passed. If an employee leaves the company before the shares have fully vested, the shares are voided. Employees have to complete a given tenure for share vesting. 

Create a Roadmap for Career Progression

IT leaders can create a career path program to boost employee retention by a significant margin. 

Prioritizing career progression can assist you in the following ways

  • Retain top performers

  • Provide your staff with a sense of purpose

  • Attract high-caliber candidates

  • Give you a competitive advantage

IT leaders should have regular career mapping meetings to address their team's short- and long-term objectives and expectations. The meeting should be conducted on a personal level to understand the aspirations of each employee.

41% of employees want to leave their current job to increase their opportunities for career progression, and 20% leave for new skills.

Assist your employees in developing career aspirations inside your organization, identifying specific positions and milestones, and defining the measures necessary to accomplish those goals.

An ideal career growth plan should include training and development programs which we have covered next.

Contribute to their Growth and Skill Development

Employees aspire to advance in their careers. 

As per Robert Half, 90% of IT managers said they were retraining or upskilling their current employees to learn new skills in demand.

With technology rapidly reshaping the economy, top performers do not want to be in professions where their skills will become obsolete. 

More and more employees are becoming concerned about their job security, and skill stagnation makes them less competitive in the job market. 

They want to work for companies where they can learn new skills, contribute to innovative projects, and build their portfolios.

Investing in developing your employees’ skills will directly impact the progression of your upcoming targets. 

Identify the upcoming IT trends and then find ways for your employees to grow in them. The more you know about what skills your company needs, the easier it will be to make learning paths for your staff. There are many ways you can do this. 

  • Develop training programs to help your employees with the skills they need or want to learn

  • Reimburse the fees for training and certifications they have to take on their own, which your organization cannot develop or provide

  • Provide the resources, like books or online course subscriptions.

  • Reward them for successfully completing a course or training

  • Provide regular feedback they can work upon

A strong learning culture increases a company's productivity by 52% and its chances of being the first to market its products and services by 56%. Engagement and retention rates are also 30–50% higher in organizations focused on providing learning and skill development.

Promote Employees over Lateral Hiring

Promoting from inside saves money and boosts morale by increasing retention. Lack of professional opportunities is considered as the main reason for leaving by 29% of the employees.

By creating an environment where people can see themselves for the long haul, they are more committed to long-term company growth. When everyone in your team feels like they're contributing to a common objective, the business culture improves.

If the new position demands a thorough grasp of the business or product, you may want to hire internally to ensure the person is productive as quickly as possible. Rather than hiring from the outside, it is generally more effective to promote from within. 

Whenever you hire someone from inside your company, the candidate is more than willing to outperform, so they always work hard and do more for your business.

Conduct Surveys to Address Underlying Issues

52 % of employees who quit feel their manager or organization could have prevented their departure, as per Gallup.

Surveys are a fantastic way to get employees' inputs and act quickly upon them to improve the employee experience and retain talent.

Employees who are happy in their jobs are 30% less likely to change jobs. 

Surveying your employees will help you discover what motivates them and identify any potential issues before they become major issues. 

Employee engagement and performance surveys are two types of surveys you might undertake. Both surveys allow employees the opportunity to voice their opinions on how things are going at work.

Employee engagement surveys seek job satisfaction and corporate loyalty. Businesses utilize them to identify and solve engagement issues. 

Employees can respond to performance surveys and rate their own performance. Performance surveys can be used by the IT heads to evaluate job performance.

Use Zluri to Enhance Your Employee Experience

When employees are not given proper tools and permissions in the expected timeline, IT teams earn a bad reputation for delaying the tool's approval/procurement.

The delay in getting access to the desired SaaS tools can make your employee question the company's efficiency and processes. Remember, your high performers and high potential employees want to get the work done, but the delay itself can be a major factor behind their reduced efficiency. 

If this is a regular occurrence throughout your organization, then your top talents will be frustrated in no time and will think of being part of a company where the processes are streamlined. 

To address this concern, IT heads can use Zluri to automate user provisioning and deprovisioning in just a few clicks to enhance the employee experience.

Additionally, there may be cases where you have an exceptional employee whose incompetence with a certain SaaS tool is causing them frustration. Under these conditions, it is critical to identify and resolve SaaS usage difficulties before they become a significant roadblock. It could also be possible that an entire department is facing difficulty with a certain app. 

Obtaining this information in a conventional manner is a difficult and time-consuming task. Zluri can automate SaaS discovery and usage trends across your organization. You can use Zluri to discover your employees' concerns regarding various SaaS tools without even having to go to them and then use the information to either let go of the complex app or develop a training module as a part of your retention plan.

Having an automated onboarding and offboarding system in place along with programs to enhance your employee's capilitilites of using tools they are struggling with — can boost their morale, productivity, and even retention to a great extent.