Why Good Employees Leave: Retaining IT Talent

What would happen if one quarter of your employees left your company this year?

According to research cited by Tech Republic, the scenario isn’t as unlikely as it might seem. One report suggests that 26% of U.S. workers want to change their jobs in the next few months.

Another — this one from Microsoft — states that 40% of workers would like to move to a new position in 2021.

Losing talent unexpectedly can take a huge toll on your business:

  • You may be relying on technology employees to launch time-sensitive projects. If they leave, your company may miss its deadlines.
  • The staff that stays behind may face even more pressure to complete the work, putting them at risk of burnout.
  • If you rush to hire replacements, the IT workers you bring on may not offer the quality or capabilities of the people you lost.

Hiring your way out of problems with retention may not be effective. There are reasons why good employees leave, and by addressing them, your business will have greater success in keeping its team together.

“I Want to Work Remotely.”

Before COVID-19 changed the world, technology professionals tended to perform some or most of their duties on a remote basis. The pandemic strengthened this trend, as remote became the norm.

Falcon Harbison is an account executive with Agile, the IT staffing company. She says, “Many IT professionals are happy spending less time in the office or in traffic. They can work more productively, spend more time with family, and enjoy a better work-life balance.”

Harbison has seen many employees leave their jobs because they receive offers with geographic flexibility. “Job postings are actually including ‘fully remote’ in their titles,” she adds. “For some candidates, three days remote or completely remote is the standard, not just an incentive.”

What Employers Can Do

Before the pandemic, your company may have required staff members to spend a certain number of days in the office. Now that many businesses are returning to in-person work, it’s a good time to reconsider your policies.

Harbison says employers need to recognize the change in expectations.

“Companies will have more success retaining tech talent by letting employees go remote. There are just so many jobs available to IT workers right now, and if being remote is important, these workers will find their way to another opportunity.”

Ideally, your company will make exceptions to its on-site policy for its most valuable workers. Alternatively, you should consider:

  • Increasing salary and benefits to make up for hours spent away from home.
  • Ensuring the employee’s work is interesting, challenging, and useful in improving their skills.
  • Creating a team environment. Some developers prefer sharing space with one another, looking over code jointly, and collaborating on projects.

“I Can Earn More Somewhere Else.”

Compensation is a typical reason why good employees leave in any industry. Rising rates for technology professionals make this factor even more important.

Harbison says, “In the height of the pandemic, some tech workers took jobs just to have a source of income, even if they weren’t being highly compensated.”

Now, as the economy improves, companies are spending more on their workforce, posting more jobs, starting up delayed projects, and making up for pandemic layoffs.

The competition for IT employees and the relatively small pool of talent has increased compensation significantly. Many tech professionals who accepted lower-paying positions before are now finding other jobs. In 2020, workers who had been with a company for a year or less resigned at a rate of 45%. Even professionals who aren’t actively looking for a new job are receiving offers that pay much more.

“Fully remote? With a big pay increase? Why would they not leave?” says Harbison.

What Employers Can Do

Companies need to understand that the going rate for tech talent has changed and budget accordingly.

IT staffing agencies like Agile can help your company plan its hiring strategy. This might include:

  • Recommending compensation packages to attract the best candidates.
  • Identifying positions that less experienced candidates can fill. With certain core skills, workers can train up to the job in less time and at a lower cost.
  • Advising employers about which IT projects to pursue and which to delay. This will allow them to focus smaller teams on higher priorities.

“It’s less expensive to hire the right person at the right rate than to bring on the wrong workers, train them, have them quit, and start the process over,” says Harbison. (For more details about hiring effectively, please see “Questions to Ask a Staffing Agency about IT Recruitment.”)

“My Company Isn’t Trying to Keep Me.”

There’s another common reason why good employees leave, and while it is often overlooked, it’s just as impactful: workers feel undervalued.

Your employees won’t always tell you when they’re unhappy. If they are stuck on an uninspiring project, isolated by company culture, or missing a clear career path, they may look for opportunities elsewhere.

Contract and contract-to-hire workers experience these problems frequently, which is why some businesses have difficulty retaining them over time:

  • Contractors may not receive benefits from the employer, so they have less of a reason to stay long term.
  • Contractors may not feel like they are included as a “real” part of the company.
  • Managers may not communicate enough with contractors or may not assign them to the most interesting projects.

What Employers Can Do

Workers aren’t always going to take the initiative when they are dissatisfied, so it’s up to companies to check in frequently, particularly with their top-performing contractors.

Harbison recommends asking workers about the issues that matter most. How do they feel about their work? Do they have the compensation they want? Is their schedule flexible enough?

“Most IT professionals are already receiving other job offers,” Harbison says. “There’s more risk of losing them to another company than there is in paying more or providing remote flexibility.”

In some cases, the solution doesn’t have to involve salary or scheduling. Companies can keep workers by putting them on more interesting projects, giving them opportunities to collaborate with full-time employees, and creating pathways to more senior positions.

Using IT recruiting firms like Agile can help you maintain worker satisfaction. Our agency recruits for contract, contract-to-hire, and permanent positions. After employers hire these candidates, we speak with them frequently to gauge how things are going.

Harbison states, “We know these workers well from when they were applicants. This lets us serve as a bridge between them and their employers, resolving problems that might lead them to another company over time.”

By communicating more effectively with your employees — and by ensuring that they receive the compensation and flexibility they require — your company can spend more time building for the future and less time rebuilding its workforce.

Learn other reasons why good employees leave and how to retain them long term. Contact Agile’s IT staffing agency to discuss our solutions.

IT Hiring