Widespread layoffs might have the headlines hooked, but the view from the CTO’s seat tells a more nuanced tale. Tech’s talent retention troubles won’t go away; high turnover rates (12.9% according to LinkedIn) and short supply make for a dreadful combo, and yet, amongst the tumult, we’re seeing agile organisations exercise extreme resilience.
Trailblazing talent retention rates are a fundamental piece of the puzzle. Success hinges on sourcing and attracting the right people at the right time. If you’re stuck, this talent retention checklist may help you out.
1. Lead with Empathy
Empathic leaders build stronger relationships, making it easier to cultivate an environment of psychological safety, one that thrives on inclusion, free-thinking, idea-sharing, collaboration, acceptance and support. Considering its profound and wide-reaching impact, empathy appears to sit amongst the most underrated leadership traits in tech.
Tech’s empathy problem is partially rooted in a lack of D&I-enabled environments. Placing diversity, inclusion, equity, and belonging at the forefront of your decision-making can help you create desirable environments. While technology’s reality-bending potential has us more connected than ever before, it can be a barrier to forming interpersonal connections.
Working in tech is no different. Here are some quick fixes to help you return the human element to the situation:
Have non-meeting meetings – Meetings for the sake of meetings are a surefire way to murder productivity, but a meeting for the sake of building trust, strengthening connections, and talking about something other than work? It has the polar opposite effect.
Practice Self-Awareness – Equitable working environments cater for individual needs; they don’t try and squash everyone into the same format. The managerial style that works for you might not work for all your employees, and practising self-awareness can help you figure out the best way to approach a specific situation.
Create Space for Vulnerability – If you can be vulnerable without fear of judgement, you can inspire others to do the same. Why is vulnerability so important? Because it allows for stronger interpersonal relationships and lets us bring our authentic selves to work. When you can be authentic, you can feel comfortable.
2. Develop Avenues for Professional Development
63% of respondents on a McKinsey survey cited a lack of career opportunities as their main reason for wanting to quit their job. That was back in 2021, and it’s still very much a concern for many of the candidates we speak to today.
Not everyone has the resources to offer formal training, but there are other ways to enhance career development if you’re in that camp.
Establishing a mentorship program can create access to a wealth of upskilling opportunities, and it enhances the working experience, particularly if you’re working with a lean team. Encouraging your people to attend industry events/workshops is a good way to grant them exposure to new learning opportunities, and there are plenty of great (and free) avenues on offer – Our Women in DevOps community has been hosting events to share knowledge and foster meaningful connections since 2017!
3. Survey Engagement Levels
You can’t meaningfully change what you don’t know isn’t working. Employee engagement surveys are a wonderful tool for gathering actionable data, and they should be in place even if you’re not concerned about retention right now.
Anonymous pulse surveys can help you get a better understanding of what your people want, what they need, and what they hope to achieve. You can orchestrate the content of the surveys too – if you’re concerned with a lack of inclusion for example, create a survey that finds out why (there are some good questions you can ask to help you with this here).
Ideally, surveys should be a regular occurrence, and they don’t have to be overly long. Even three randomly selected questions a month can give you some much-needed insight into your people.
4. Recognise Your Team’s Achievements
While informal recognition is vital, formal recognition initiatives can be a superb way of giving your people something to aim for. Recognition in a public forum hits differently, and people deserve to be acknowledged for a job well done.
Plus, if it’s done well, it can create a sense of healthy competition, which can be crucial for avoiding complacency.
5. Embrace Flexibility
Flexibility is one of the hotter friction-inducing topics between employer and employee right now, and for good reason: the tech space proved many jobs work everywhere, people grew to enjoy their commute-free day, and now they don’t want to come back to the office.
That’s it at the most basic, and the situation is vastly nuanced, but ultimately, decision-makers should be asking themselves ‘Have we got the right balance?’ Hybrid working for hybrid working’s sake isn’t productive; it must be justified. Is your remote working policy arbitrary, or is it enabling your people the ideal balance of culture and flexibility?
We’ve seen many employers revisit their policies for this very reason, and when they get it right, it can be a powerful tool for persuasion, particularly when securing (and retaining) top talent.
It’s not uncommon to see people switch roles for the remote option, taking a massive pay cut in the process.
If you’re already managing to do the above, then we’d love to hear about it! If you’re struggling to make the right choices or execute your retention strategy, then we can help. Either way, we’re always looking to form meaningful new connections, learn, grow, and support the wider digital tech community.
Reach out to the team at Trust in SODA, we’re here to talk tech and deliver talent solutions you can depend on.