It has become increasingly vital for businesses to understand what’s needed in order to keep their employees happy and motivated, especially when it comes to finding qualified tech talent.
If you are having problems with attracting or retaining your top performers, read on. This article gives an overview of how to deal with the problem once you have recognized that it exists in your organization.
Understanding Why Employees Leave
When employees leave a company, there are usually multiple reasons why they do so – not just one! Common reasons include:
- Unhappy with management/leadership style
- Lack of career opportunities within the company
- Unhappy in current position
- Not being paid well in comparison with market rates/skills
- Bored with the job
- No longer see themselves as a good fit for the company culture
Employees typically leave when they feel unfulfilled by their work, and there is another option that appears more attractive. It may be a competitor, or it might be another company entirely – we can’t always be certain of why people choose to move on, but we do know that if people aren’t happy in their current position, they will eventually look elsewhere.
In order to retain your top performers, you need to ensure that you are creating an environment where everyone feels valued and challenged. If employees feel dissatisfied, then it’s time for your business to take action! If they don’t, then congratulations! You’re doing great at retaining your top performers.
Why Employers Lose Top Tech Talent
Employers who lose their top tech talent typically tell me that this is because they are:
- Not paying the market rate for in-demand IT skills
- Losing employees to competitors who offer more money and/or better benefits
- Treating employees as fungible commodities (when in fact they provide unique value)
Of course, there may be other reasons, but these tend to be the most common. It is important to understand why you lose your staff so that you can take steps to prevent it from happening again. If employers don’t know what they’re doing wrong or how they can improve, then it’s likely that they’ll keep losing their top performers.
Training and Development
Employers who invest in their employees’ training and development ultimately retain more staff, enjoy higher morale (because the company cares about them), and improve productivity (because everyone is fully up-to-speed with the latest technologies). When employers prioritize training and development, they don’t lose top tech talent. They gain loyal employees instead!
Top performers want to feel like their employer values them and understands their needs. At a minimum, most employees expect:
- Healthcare insurance plans that aren’t overly expensive & comprehensive enough to offer real benefits (e.g., medical/dental/vision; prescription drug coverage; mental health coverage; etc.)
- Paid time off (PTO) so that they can take as much vacation as they need/want without worrying about how many vacation days they have left or losing those days if their employment terminates for any reason
- Telecommuting options so that those employees who want to work from home can do so without sacrificing their career opportunities and benefits because of it
The more employers prioritize these items, the less likely it is that top performers will jump ship. If you’re paying your employees well and offering them great benefits, then you’re doing a good job at retaining your top performers.
If we look at Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, we’ll see that “self-actualization” is at its peak. By this, Maslow means that people only seek self-actualization after they’ve met their more basic, fundamental needs.
What does all this mean? It means that if employees are unhappy in their current role, then it’s unlikely that they will want to grow or learn anything new – even if your company offers training and development opportunities! For example, if you’re an IT contractor who specializes in Windows Server administration but your company wants you to learn Linux administration instead, doing so would likely waste both of your time because you’ll either feel unfulfilled by the work (if you didn’t want to move into Linux) or the skills may not transfer over well ( possibly applicable).
Work-life balance is important to everyone, but especially so for top performers. When they work for employers who don’t understand the importance of this, then those employees are likely to jump ship because not only will they feel unfulfilled but also overworked and underpaid (for their skills).
If you’re an employer who values work-life balance, then you’ll need to prioritize it by offering things like flexible hours (e.g., start times), location flexibility (e.g., telecommuting options), etc. If you want your top performers to stick around, then think about what you can do to help them strike a healthy balance between their personal lives and their professional work lives.
Lack of Opportunities for Advancement
For better or worse, most people want to advance in their careers over the long term. If they can’t do this at your company, then it’s likely that they’ll look elsewhere because they want something better for themselves – even if they’re being paid well.
If you don’t have many opportunities for advancement at your company, then the chances are good that top performers will eventually leave you. It doesn’t matter if their title is “Junior Developer” or “Developer Lead.” They still want to grow and be challenged every now and again! After all, human beings tend to stagnate when we stop growing, so it’s no surprise that employees seek out employers who offer enough growth opportunities to keep them at the top of their game.
Skills & Career Development Resources Are Lacking
Even if a top performer loves her job and the company she works for, that doesn’t mean that she won’t find another opportunity elsewhere because she wants to grow professionally. For example, let’s say that an IT contractor has been working as a Linux admin for several years now but wants to specialize in Windows Server administration so that he can work as a consultant or contractor. In this scenario, it would be likely that he’ll leave his current employer because he can’t build those skills at his current company – even if they have benefits and perks!
Taking Employees for Granted
Employees nearly always appreciate the things that their employers do to make them feel appreciated. However, it’s important to keep in mind that people are more likely to leave if you take them for granted instead of thanking them for a job well done.
For example, let’s say an employee has been working at your company for 3 years, and he helps out on a particular project that is time-sensitive. You should thank him because his work may have saved the entire department from embarrassment or perhaps even legal trouble. On the other hand, if you’re taking all of his hard work for granted, then don’t be surprised if he jumps ship after only 2 years!
Top Performers Are Offered Less Money
As the old saying goes, money talks. The chances are good that if your top performers are being offered less money elsewhere, then they’ll probably leave you sooner or later.
Sometimes it’s worth giving raises for high-performers who have been with you for several years because their value to your company is more than just a “newbie” salary. If you can’t afford better pay for them, then consider offering benefits instead (e.g., an extra week of vacation) or some type of performance bonus program, even if they’re salaried employees.