The Great Retention: Keeping IT Talent from Quitting in a Tight Labor Market

Labor Market

You already know that retaining talent is a challenge in the post-pandemic labor market, with some 4.5 million workers heading for the exits in November 2021 alone. The IT sector, long known for job-hopping tendencies in the best of times, is among the hardest hit. In fact, a Gartner survey reports that only 29% of workers in the tech field have a “high intent” to remain in their current jobs, and for workers under the age of 30 that number drops by almost half, to 16%.

That’s a massive challenge for those leading IT workers, and clearly the old ways of doing things won’t cut it anymore. What will?

We spoke with Steve Wooten, VP of Strategic Hiring at Think about how to keep IT members from quitting in this challenging labor market. With over 20 years’ experience in IT staffing, Steve knows a thing or two about recruiting, hiring, and retaining top IT talent. Here’s what he had to say.

What’s the best way to keep IT staffers from quitting in a tight labor market?

With a tight employment market, it is critical to listen to your IT staff and provide benefits and an environment that meets their individual needs. One-size-fits-all approaches like raises, promotions and bonuses may not cut it in this tight market. You’ll likely need to think outside the box to find the right incentives like flexible schedules, remote work opportunities, and providing meaningful work where employees have the ability to have real impact in order to keep your staff satisfied and engaged.

Why is this such a challenge right now?

The pandemic has forced many of us to reevaluate our lives and prioritize the things that matter most. Not surprisingly, many have decided that things like time and family are more important than more money. Listening to your team members and meeting them where they are helps demonstrate that you and the company care. The result is that they’ll feel more like a valuable member of a team rather than an expendable employee or an interchangeable part.

What’s the biggest mistake managers make when addressing employee retention?

The biggest mistake managers can make is thinking that money is everything. Money simply doesn’t talk in this current environment. This is an unprecedented time and managers must find creative ways to recruit, promote and retain talent. If you just continue to offer more money, you become just another commodity in a bidding war, and you’ll likely lose talent to competitors who are providing benefits and flexibility to meet the unique needs of each employee.   

Is there anything else you would like to add?

It’s important to understand and accept the reality that employees have more negotiating power in this tight job market. This provides a unique opportunity to reevaluate how your company attracts, hires, and promotes staff, and that reevaluation begins with employee input. Listening to and implementing staff input will demonstrate that the company cares for its team members and that they are not just faceless employees.

At Think, we have a diverse and diffused team that can basically work from anywhere in the world, and that offers many advantages, but also presents its own challenges. Because we don’t have the water cooler chats, we go out of our way to get people together through quarterly and hybrid events that help create and foster a strong office culture in the absence of in-person interactions. Nearly every employer is looking at a very different scenario in terms of remote work than they were in early 2020. The more effort you can put into nurturing your organization culture in this new reality, the better your chances of retaining talent.

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