“The Great Resignation” is sweeping the enterprise landscape, and IT isn't immune to its impact. Approximately 33 million Americans have quit their jobs since spring 2021, with many dissatisfied workers citing low pay, stress, or boredom as the reason.
The keys to reducing attrition are leadership development, increased communication with employees, and a clear articulation of your vision and purpose, especially during stressful times, says Danielle Phaneuf, a principal at PwC's Strategy & US unit. To reduce staff turnover, focus on internal IT career advancement, upskilling, and learning programs, she advises. Always consider the employee’s perspective. “Workers want to feel that their work is valued and connects to a broader purpose,” Phaneuf says.
Managers often fail to acknowledge the power employees hold. “The current competitive climate puts employees in the driver's seat,” observes Kyle Tuberson, CTO of the public sector unit at global consultancy ICF. Managers need to prioritize employee concerns. Tuberson advises IT leaders to question their employees about the types of work they would like to handle, and what steps the organization can take to deliver on those desires. “Ensuring that employees are given valuable work within their current roles will keep them from seeking those opportunities elsewhere,” Tuberson explains.
The Value of Psychological Safety
Creating a work climate that values psychological safety is an effective staff retention approach since it addresses employees' need to feel important, skilled, and capable of delivering value. “Appreciating creativity and new ideas allows workers to see value in their work beyond a paycheck,” Tuberson says. “Psychological safety not only gives IT staffers a reason to stay in their current role, but allows them to do better, innovative work for their companies.” He points to a recent McKinsey study in which 54% of employees says that not feeling valued by their organization was the top reason for leaving their previous job. “Work environments that listen to the shift in employees' values are able to combat rising attrition rates,” Tuberson notes.
Raise exit barriers by creating social connections, contacts, and conditions that ensure employees have something to lose by leaving their present job, suggests Julia Zavileyskaya, senior vice president of human resources management and communications at global software engineering firm DataArt. It's hard for an employee to leave if they’re deeply enmeshed within a team, she says. “Ensure that employees are never bored and make it clear that you will actively work to offer new projects and greater challenges.”
Zavileyskaya also advises demonstrating understanding when an employee needs to take a temporary leave to address a personal situation. Assure them that their position will be open to them when they return. “When you offer this level of security, employees are significantly more inclined to remain with the company,” she says.
Satisfaction More Than Just About Money
Sanjeev Agrawal, president and COO of AI-based healthcare technology provider LeanTaaS, says that one of the biggest employee-related mistakes he ever made was assuming that compensation is the biggest staff retention driver. “We need to be market-competitive, but you can’t pay people enough if their jobs aren't satisfying or challenging, or if they dislike their teams or managers, or if the work culture isn’t good,” he observes.
Most IT staffers also don't want to feel like they're being held prisoners to back-office operations. To keep IT team members onboard and happy in their work, ensure they feel invested at multiple levels within the organization, and are assigned to projects that show them they're making a difference in achieving enterprise goals. Phaneuf suggests taking a multi-faceted approach to staff satisfaction that focuses on a holistic employee experience.
Leaders should give their teams a reason to stay by offering career advancement opportunities, including new projects and upskilling initiatives, lowering the likelihood that they will look for growth opportunities elsewhere. “Pride of ownership in your business grows as employees move up the corporate ladder,” Phaneuf says. Always consider the employee’s perspective. “Workers want to feel that their work is valued and connects to a broader purpose,” she says.
Embrace automation whenever possible to allow team members to focus on more meaningful work. “When processes aren't optimized, and employees are manually completing tasks that could be done by artificial intelligence (AI) or robotic process automation (RPA), it's a lost opportunity for managers and workers alike,” Tuberson explains. Low-code/no-code adoption, for instance, enables IT chiefs to boost staff productivity while giving individuals more room for creativity and growth.
Lead your team but also become an integral part of it. “Managers need to build relationships that show they care,” Phaneuf says. “As boundaries between work and personal lives continue to blur, now is the time to know about your people, their interests, and their passions.”