5 Ways to Retain Top IT Talent in a Competitive Market

by Jeff Miller on March 19, 2015 in Hiring, IT Staffing

Retention The IT hiring momentum that kicked off 2015 has yet to slow down, and in fact has been further boosted by the latest news from the White House; an announcement regarding a new initiative to help boost employment in the high-tech sector, with grants across the country, including Portland and Colorado.

This is creating a lot of movement in the tech industry and a lot of competition between companies that are hiring. If you’re planning to expand your current IT staff, the last thing you want is to be forced to hire for positions made empty by people leaving.

While the buzz around retention is nothing new, it’s more important than ever. As your business needs change and a new generation trickles into the workplace, any existing strategies to retain top IT talent should be revisited and evaluated.

At EdgeLink, we work closely with our clients to ensure that the people we help them hire are a good fit for the long term. In doing so, we’ve noticed several common trends related to retention. Here’s what we’ve found:

1. Compensation is rarely enough to retain top talent

It’s a pretty typical practice to reward employees with performance-based bonuses or raises. Many companies even explicitly use retention bonuses, given incrementally and contingent upon the employee staying with the company.

But rarely if ever is compensation the primary factor in retaining top performers. In fact, one study shows that once someone’s household income reaches a threshold of $75,000 (with variations according to state, debt, household size, etc.), any additional income will not result in increased happiness.

While it is important to periodically evaluate your company’s or department’s compensation structure, it’s equally essential to look beyond monetary motivation when it comes to keeping your best employees. With more companies getting competitive when it comes to salary, you need to establish a strong differentiator to both attract and retain top talent.

2. Giving people opportunity for growth is essential

It’s human nature to need a sense of direction, and a person’s career path is no exception. In most cases, people are looking for more than just a job; they want to work for a company where they will thrive and improve and grow.

Even if you can’t offer an employee any opportunity for upward mobility, you can still create an environment with continuous training, learning and development.

Give your people the chance to learn new skills; create a mentorship program where peers can develop their leadership skills; offer training when you upgrade your technology, and think about extended tuition reimbursement for people who’d like to take some classes outside of work.

3. Your company culture should align with your retention strategy

The best company cultures are built around a team of employees whose personalities blend well and who are working towards a common cause. As an employer, company culture can be strengthened by the layout of the workplace – i.e., where people aren’t completely isolated in their cubicles – as well as efforts to encourage teamwork, peer communication, and celebration of accomplishments and milestones.

Even if your company already has a great culture, you need to be aware of how new employees fit in. Even a great culture can sometimes run the risk of being too exclusive, making it difficult for new employees to fit in when they first come onboard. This is especially true if part of your workforce consists of contracted consultants. Even though these workers are usually temporary, how they interact with your permanent staff has a direct effect on your retention rates.

4. Ask your employees how you’re doing

Annual performance reviews are a pretty typical practice. Maybe you even conduct them more frequently. Either way, this is an excellent opportunity to directly ask your employees how you’re doing as an employer. As long as you’ve established a trusting relationship with your staff, you should receive some insightful answers to how you might be able to improve your workplace and motivate your employees.

5. A good retention strategy starts with your hiring strategy

Ultimately, your retention rates depend upon your hiring strategy. If you’re in a rush to hire – whether it’s because of growth or because of turnover – it’s easy to let urgency force you into a hasty hire without fully evaluating how well that new hire fits into your company and its workforce. Oversight like this will likely lead to turnover, creating even more urgency to hire. Understanding how both your hiring strategy and your retention strategy fit into the big picture is essential to business success.

Are you feeling the pressure to augment your IT staff while keeping retention in mind? At EdgeLink we know there is no “one-size-fits-all” hiring strategy, so we work diligently to take a personable approach to staffing. Let us know your needs today.