Founder and President of V-Soft Consulting, Purna Veer has led V-Soft to champion innovation for companies across North America.
There’s never been a time when IT talent is more in demand than today. You can’t turn on the news without hearing about the Great Resignation. Businesses everywhere are losing employees to higher-paying, culturally attractive positions. Any company slow to the trend of adopting innovative strategies for retention is hurting.
As a co-founder of an IT staffing firm that’s been in business for over 25 years, I’ve seen the trends in the IT workforce evolve and fluctuate. From what I’ve experienced, there’s never been a more challenging time for employers to attract and retain top IT talent. Everyone knows great benefits and culture are important to retaining top talent, but I’ve come up with some additional winning strategies to help mitigate the risk of attrition.
No matter how impressive your company is, people follow people. People will follow great managers, and it’s important to make sure your managers at all levels within your organization are the right people for the job. There’s nothing that will drive away employees faster than bad leadership. As a great leader, you should be able to tell who will make a great manager in order to retain your company’s talent. Society for HR Management does a great job of explaining how to avoid hiring bad managers.
If there’s one takeaway here, it’s to be intentional and get leadership training. Great leaders are rarely the result of just higher-performing employees being promoted or are by chance strong leaders. While you likely have a few managers operating as strong leaders, most need training on how to engage, inspire and retain employees.
Just as important as managers are peers. This is where company culture ties in. Making strategic hires of people who won’t negatively impact any other employee’s experience is critical. Foster a culture of inclusivity. Everyone should accept a no-tolerance policy for bullying, harassment and discrimination.
You know the saying “one bad apple spoils the bunch,” and this applies to our workplaces. While a high-performing employee may be hard to correct or part ways with, the tolerance of their behavior will cause others to leave. This not only creates turnover but reduces the potential for referrals. Isolate non-team players, help them understand the value of respecting co-workers or help them find another role.
There’s no getting around the fact that employers must take on more responsibility for employees’ mental well-being. A major factor causing attrition is burnout. According to Gartner, “One in five HR leaders believe pent-up turnover that was paused during the pandemic is a key reason for attrition.” Leaders must address employee burnout head-on. Some strategies include providing flexible work hours and locations, encouraging PTO use for a strong work-life balance, and creating more employee training and development opportunities.
Of course, as a minority-owned business, diversity, equity and inclusion are near to my heart. But even I can admit that interest and value of diversity has increased monumentally by talent in recent years. At the bare minimum, companies must have a concerted diversity effort. Does your executive leadership team represent the rest of your workforce? Has there been a strategic effort to bring diversified talent to your organization? What kind of training and certifications are being added to onboarding or continuous learning curriculum? What is your organization’s public stance on diversity? Are you celebrating this on your website, social media and job applications?
Being intentional about diversity is critical for attraction and retention goals. These efforts should include employees, partners, leadership and even community events.
Opportunities For Growth
People won’t stay if they don’t see any advancement, whether in career opportunities or salary growth. In today’s competitive market, talent can move horizontally to the same role in another company and get a significant increase in salary. Remember how much power the talent of today has. Companies need to do whatever it takes to keep their people happy if they want them to stay. Consider retention or project-based bonuses to reduce attrition.
Remember, it can take up to double an employee’s salary to find their replacement.
Values, Community, Purpose
Today’s talent pool takes corporate values seriously. Hiring managers are finding themselves answering these common questions during interviews:
• How is your company giving back to the community?
• What fundraisers are you hosting?
• How are employees getting involved in volunteer work?
Having a shared purpose across the organization makes it much harder for employees to want to leave. At my company, we organize social and community support events, we celebrate our awards and celebrate our family.
New Out-Of-The-Box Thinking
While the above strategies may help with talent attraction and retention, they only work if applied on a consistent basis. Here are a few bonus tactics on how to get the most from your recruiting and retaining efforts:
• Welcome back previous employees: Be open and engage with past employees. Employees may realize a new gig is not all they hoped it would be. This provides a unique opportunity to welcome them back. It’s important to continue a positive experience with an employee even during the offboarding process. You never know who may consider coming back or refer their friends.
• Encourage referrals: Do you pay referral fees to existing team members? While we do not hesitate in paying, often, 25% of a new hire’s salary for a placement service, we balk at referral fees exceeding $1,000.
• Be easy to find: How big is your social media network? While growing your social media presence is critical in today’s virtual world, most do a poor job of leveraging social platforms for talent attraction. At my company, we routinely use social media to post jobs, share insights about our culture and make it easy to apply for positions in our career portal.
What have you tried to attract and retain talent? What has worked or not been so successful? Please reach out so we can support one another.