Don’t…Leave Me This Way

Do you know how many songs there are pleading people to stay? I haven’t actually counted because I don’t have that kind of time in my life, but if you think about it, you could hum at least two, or three. David Bowie, Rod Stewart, Marvin Gaye, and Sam Smith, to name a few, all have songs wailing for their loves to stay. Now imagine if all you had to do to retain your technology talent, was sing them a ballad. Surely life would be brilliant and so much easier. Unless of course, you’re tone deaf, in which case, life does become tricky.

However, I digress. The point is, technology professionals are hopping from job to job quicker and more frequently than ever before, and the love ballads aren’t working. Retaining talent is as difficult as finding it, and in a market that moves as quickly as technology does, it’s become harder than ever to keep your star players on your bench.

The most common question I get asked by CTOs and hiring managers is how do I make them stay?

While I want to have a one stop solution, a simple answer and the secret ingredient to all their problems, unfortunately I don’t, but what I do have, is the privilege of being able to sit in both camps, on both sides of the fence. I get to talk to tech professionals and build incredible relationships, not so that I can feed information back to the other side, but rather so that I’m in a unique position to really understand what each person wants and bring the right people together at the right moment. Here’s three of the most important things I’ve learnt about what tech professionals really want, and how you can retain them and fulfil them.

1.   A New Way of Living

Once upon a time remote working seemed a ridiculous notion, but as globalisation has opened up our borders and given us more access, techies are searching for companies that will give them that freedom. International companies are opening up their policies to offer remote work from the US, Israel and Australia to name a few, and in a hyper-connected world, people are leaping at the chance to stay connected while living anywhere.

"While this seems daunting for some businesses who worry that their offices will suddenly be empty while everyone slacks off on a beach somewhere, I can promise you that’s never actually happened and remains a myth."

Remote working isn’t for everyone, and circumstances and personal preferences keeps a lot of people at home, in offices, in a happy routine. But being able to offer remote working to your employees is some of the best way to retain and hire some of the best talent in the market. If someone has the skills, there’s always going to be a company out there that doesn’t care if they’re in the office or not and will snap them up. Don’t give them the chance.

2.   Constant Growth

When I chat to technology professionals and they tell me about the things they love, hate and are madly passionate about, a constant desire to improve and upskill themselves always comes up. I’ve yet to meet a techie who is content to sit on helpdesk for the next thirty years without learning anything new. Even the ones who are working on the helpdesk of the big global corporations all have other projects happening in their free time, or they’re attending hackathons or on the lookout for the next technology. Being able to develop and train your technology staff has to become part of your internal L&D programs if you hope to keep the most talented individuals in your businesses. There’s a million ways to work it, from hours allocated to project time, to providing on-site training or even bringing in tech influencers for seminars.

"The possibilities are endless, and you can be as inventive as you like with your programs, but you have to be able to offer more than just money if you want them to stay."

Everyone is offering money, there’s no shortage of it in the market, but what are you putting on the table that can’t be found anywhere else?

3.   Culture Actually Matters

Of course you know this, you’ve been talking about culture and engagement and becoming a destination employer for years now, which means you’re a superstar and totally ahead of the game. However, when it comes to technology departments, all those conversations can get sidestepped and passed over, as if culture is just for the sales department, or HR, or finance or any other department in your business. Culture is for the contractors, and the tech department, as much as anyone else and they cannot be ignored. When you’re cultivating your culture, be mindful of how your technology talent fits into it and how you can build a culture suited for them that helps them to thrive.

"Over my years in recruitment I’ve seen people reject bigger salaries and shinier jobs all for the people and the environment they’re in."

People and place keeps people in jobs. It’s that simple. You can never stop other people reaching out to your talent and trying to persuade them to jump ship, that’s never going to change, but your culture can determine whether they pick up the phone or respond to the LinkedIn ‘just a chat’ request.

While the technology market is shaping itself to move quickly and jump often, the way you approach the talent in your business can change whether they leave after a year to maybe two or three, or even, not at all. You have the power to retain the best individuals around, it’s often just a matter of tweaking your business model to make it happen, and tweaks and changes are always a good thing.