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March 16, 2018

How to Tackle High Turnover in the IT Department

If there’s one thing that kills continuity, drains resources, and increases costs, it’s employee turnover. Unfortunately, many IT departments around the country have a lot of trouble retaining employees. In fact, some organizations claim it’s one of their biggest internal issues. Is there a solution?

5 Ways to Improve Employee Retention

High employee turnover is alarming for a number of reasons. To start, it tells you something about the workplace culture you’re building. If people are constantly leaving, there must be something turning them away. Secondly, high turnover is expensive. It’s more cost-effective to retain good employees than it is to hire new ones. Finally, it’s disruptive. When you have employees coming and going, it’s hard to experience any sort of continuity.

Unfortunately, the IT industry is rife with turnover – something a TEKsystems (News - Alert) survey of more than 400 IT leaders and 1,500 IT professionals across North America recently confirmed.

“Two out of five IT leaders and IT professionals say their organization struggles with retaining IT talent,” TEKsystems explains. “Nearly 70 percent of IT leaders note that this is a widespread challenge across their IT department and no specific skills are more fleeting than others.”

The most alarming issue with turnover is it inhibits organizations from meeting strategic IT goals and objectives.

“In fact, one out of four organizations say attrition is their IT department’s biggest barrier to success,” TEKsystems continues. “IT organizations that fail to adapt will be unable to keep pace with the changing marketplace and find their internal teams constantly understaffed and goals underachieved.”

So how do you do it? What practical steps can you take to tackle high turnover in your IT department and enjoy the benefits of higher employee retention? While there are many solutions, the following should prove helpful in your pursuit of lowering attrition.

Develop an Employee Value Proposition

Does your company have a documented employee value proposition, or EVP? This is simply a unique set of benefits – tangible and intangible – that an employee receives in return for the time, skills, and capabilities they bring to the organization.

“An EVP is about defining the essence of your company – how it is unique and what it stands for. It encompasses the central reasons that people are proud and motivated to work there, such as the inspiring vision or distinctive culture,” explains Michael Page, a leading job search and recruitment agency. “When integrated into all aspects of a business, a strong EVP will help to retain top performers and attract the best external talent.”

If you don’t already have one, now is the time to create an employee value proposition. Not only will it help you with retention, but it will also provide you with distinct advantages in the recruitment and hiring processes.

Enhance Recruiting Processes

Speaking of recruitment, you need to be careful with how you approach this aspect of human resources. Instead of always taking the candidate with the best resume or most impressive interview, try recruiting based on “best fit.” You want people who are skilled, but also mesh with your company culture. This will drastically lower your rate of attrition and give you a chance to hang on to your talent for longer periods of time.

Make Employees Feel Appreciated

Money isn’t everything. While competitive salaries and lucrative benefits will certainly help you hang on to employees, it’s not the be-all and end-all. You also need to make sure your employees feel appreciated.

Employee appreciation can and should take on many different forms. Here are a few specific examples you may consider using:

  • Something as simple as sending a gift basket around the holidays (or on a work anniversary) shows your employees that you’re thinking about them.
  • Providing employees with sporadic half-days or days off shows them you care about work-life balance and are willing to put their satisfaction above the bottom line.
  • Investing in quality equipment and supplies shows employees that you want them to be successful in everything they do.

In the grand scheme of things, these are small gestures. However, in the mind of an employee, they’re generous actions that prove you care.

Provide Clear Paths to Advancement

No one likes to feel like they’re stuck in a dead-end job where there’s little room for growth. If you want to retain ambitious employees who have dreams of moving up the ladder, you need to provide clear paths to advancement.

“Promote from within whenever possible,” IT expert Sharon Florentine suggests. “Doing so will not only provide a clear, forward-looking path to greater compensation and responsibility, but it will help employees feel they're valued and a crucial part of the company's success as a whole.”

It’s also smart to invest in ongoing education and training. While average employees may dread training, ambitious and talented employees understand the role of education and will see it as an opportunity to advance.

Be Prepared for Turnover

No matter how hard you try or how many of these tips you implement, there’s going to be turnover. People get burned out, families are forced to move, and there will always be attractive job offers from other companies. In situations where an employee does leave, you need to be prepared.

The more prepared you are for turnover, the less a situation will hurt you. And instead of dwelling on the negatives, you’ll be able to shift your attention towards finding the best possible replacement.

When you have a plan for addressing turnover, you’ll typically find that there’s very little drop off from the former employee to the new one.

Take a Proactive Approach

You can’t get lazy or complacent about employee turnover. While it’s not exactly the most fun issue to tackle, it’s one that must be dealt with promptly in order to give your IT department the best chance of accomplishing strategic goals and objectives.

Edited by Erik Linask
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