Top tips on retaining your IT talent


There is the old cliche that good help is hard to find, but that’s really only the beginning of it. The real undertaking is how do you make good help stay?

Retaining staff is a very valuable ability for any company. The process of interviewing, hiring and training new staff can cost a company 2.5 times the amount of the annual salary of that role, but for the IT industry, where skills and expertise are significantly valued and competition is fierce, retention is a particularly big issue.

In fact, ComputerWorld reports that it is one of the biggest problems CIOs have, stating that 87% of Australian CIOs saying they are concerned about losing their top IT performers.

Given what a good performer can offer a business — company knowledge, a diverse skill-set, contribution to a positive culture, it’s important that you’re thinking about a retention policy that has plans for keeping your team happy, satisfied and most importantly — in your business.

What makes an IT employee happy?

There is a perception in the industry that employees will jump ship for a more lucrative financial offer, but this isn’t the whole story. Melbourne Recruitment Agency Resource Solutions Group recently did a widespread survey of IT professionals and found that the thing for them was Job satisfaction and enrichment. Over 72% of respondents said that this was the most important aspect of their role. Keeping a great talent, may not necessarily take money, it may take creativity and the ability to listen to their needs.

What does job satisfaction and enrichment encompass?

As mentioned above, it might not be about spending money on a higher salary, but it may mean looking at spending money in other places in the business. For example:

Invest in training

Your team are no doubt very passionate lovers of emerging technologies and programs, and want a chance to be learning how to use them. Having a budget to allow them to learn these new skills keeps them engaged and excited about what they do, but it also demonstrates that you understand that there is a value in what they are doing.

A good benefit package

This could include things like stock options, bonuses, or project-based bonuses. What these things do — aside from financially acknowledging the appropriate level of skill — is give the employee both a personal stake in the company and a goal, meaning that they are invested in project outcomes.

The non-financial ways of making an employee stay

Keeping great talent is also anticipating their needs so that you can offer them the things to do their job properly. Resource Solutions Group Director, Karen Park, discovered:

“Employees are most highly motivated when they feel that their organisation places its people first, and when they receive regular encouragement and support from management and colleagues.”

And there are many things that a company can do to ensure that a staff member understands this:

Offer flexibility

Work life balance is becoming a more important priority, so in order to be competitive, an employer should be looking at how they can be offering flexibility. Whether its job-sharing, telecommuting a few days a week, or working outside the nine-to-five hours, flexibility not only creates happier employees, but also more productive ones as well.

Empowering your workers

There are many ways to do this, but one of the simplest ways companies can do this is by simply acknowledging that someone has done a good job. The need to feel valued is universal, so ensuring that all achievements (no matter how small) are celebrated is important.

It’s equally important to ensure that there is room for failure. For example NetApp have an Innovation Zone, (both a physical and online space) where workers can go to tease out new ideas. People can share the idea itself and also the process, so even if the idea fails, the learning could be applied somewhere else.

In a more general sense, it’s equally vital that management isn’t fostering a blame culture. If mistakes are made, then it’s a very important that someone feels like they can put their hand up and that the rest of the team can learn from it. What this does is ensures that the same mistakes aren’t made over and again, and that your team feels secure and protected to try daring new solutions, which might sprout into a very valuable asset for your company.

Talent retained

Even though a competitive salary is a good way to entice a person to your team, a good salary isn’t the thing that will make them stay. As a manager if you create a fantastic culture, and give your talent the things they need to flourish (both in and out of the workplace), you are not only ensuring that you have happy workers, but you’ve got staff who’ll be with you for a very long time.

CeBIT Australia CIO Summary Report