What are some great ways to attract and retain the best tech talent?  Here are 10-ideas to lower attrition and help build a vibrant tech workforce. IT departments in Fortune 500 companies have the highest turnover rates in the country, with a median tenure of less

IT departments in Fortune 500 companies have the highest turnover rates in the country, with a median tenure of less
than 1.5 years. As companies get smaller, the turnover rates don’t improve. It’s no secret that IT expertise is in high demand, and companies are often competing with each other for top talent. There are plenty of methods to promote loyalty and retention, but a more creative approach will enable you to recruit amazing professionals and keep them. You can cherry pick these ideas, but they work best when integrated into a single benefits package.

There are plenty of methods to promote loyalty and retention, but a more creative approaches will enable you to recruit amazing professionals and keep them.

10 Ideas to Attract and Retain the Best Tech Talent

Advancement Through Training

Why: Every IT professional requires frequent additional training to keep up with trends, and advancement is a key area of concern for career professionals.

How: Hierarchy structures will have to be customized, but a general career path overview would look like this: help desk > network maintenance > network design > administrator

You want to have clear career paths available to applicants to use this as a hiring tool. The company can choose training methods at each level that include but are not limited to mentorship, official certification, recertification and college degrees.

Risk: This sets precedent for hiring internally, so it may cause backlash when you need to search for external IT talent, especially for management.

Cost: Varies with training. Estimates range from hundreds to thousands of dollars per employee per training.

Potential Effectiveness: 5

Hire at Entry Level

Why: This pairs strongly with the previous method. If you are training and grooming your employees, you can hire those with less experience/education/expertise. This enlarges your hiring pool and dramatically lowers starting wages without sacrificing quality.

How: Again, this works best with clear-cut training and advancement programs. Even without the advancement, entry-level training will be the lynchpin in this strategy. Mentoring programs can also be very effective in supplementing the training.

Risk: Lowering the barrier of entry opens the doors for lower quality employees and increased turnover.

Cost: Starting pay will drop, but additional investment in training may be necessary. Net loss estimate – $1000 per hire.

Potential Effectiveness: 5

Show Them Why Your Company Matters

Why: Many workers, but especially millennials, want emotional satisfaction from their jobs. It boosts moods, increases productivity, promotes loyalty and nurtures innovation.

How: Three simple steps bring this to fruition. First, make the positive impacts of your company clear from the outset. Second, partner with a local charity or outreach program. Third, reward employees for volunteering with said charity or outreach program. This can be anything from free t-shirts to bonus pay.

A very popular reward is “charity days” that work like personal days but for the sole purpose of working with your nonprofit.

Risk: The largest risk comes from losing productivity hours to your nonprofit. Blackout dates may be necessary to manage this.

Cost: Will vary by incentive, so it can be matched to your budget.

Potential Effectiveness: 4.5

Excite them with Worthy Challenges

Why: Talented IT professionals enjoy their work because they like solving problems. Appealing to this comes with the added benefit of improving communication with management and IT. It will help regulate expectations on both sides to improve job satisfaction and effectiveness.

How: Adjust the time table accordingly, but consider starting with quarterly meetings between management and IT. Management should present problems and ambitions and charge the IT department with creating a proposal for a quarterly project. Management will give feedback on the proposals to negotiate budget, time tables, labor and other expectations, but the project is left entirely to IT. Include the frequency and nature of these proposals in each employee’s contract.

Risk: If management cannot tactfully supply critiques and/or rejections to proposals, this method destroys morale and creates a rift.

Cost: Compensation will need to match increased responsibility. Estimate – $1000+ per project team per year.

Potential Effectiveness: 4.5

Include Gadgets/Software in Perks

Why: Your IT department needs hands-on access to any technology they are going to support or distribute. This gives them the necessary access while appealing to their love of technology. Enthusiasm, loyalty and efficiency all benefit.

How: Implementation is fairly straightforward. A personal unit of most major devices and license of supported software can be supplied to every team member on the corresponding support team. Contracts should stipulate a minimum time commitment to keep the perks permanently to prevent exploitation.

Risk: The risk is minimal if your contracts protect you from fast turnovers.

Cost: Will range with team size but can be mitigated by limiting eligibility. Estimate – $1000-$10000 per eligible employee per employment duration.

Potential Effectiveness: 4

Milestone Rewards

Why: Let them know that you still appreciate them, even as the years and projects go by. Milestone rewards never need to be extravagant, but they provide motivational objectives and a sense of value for employees of every level.

How: This is not a new concept, but for the IT department you can abandon the 30 year Rolex tradition. Instead, combine this idea with the technology retention perks mentioned above. If nothing else, poll your employees for suggestions for these rewards. There are two kinds of important milestones. The first relates to work accomplishments. Examples would be reward for the 1000th answered service desk call or 10th major hardware deployment. The second is simply for years with the company. A standard layout would be a reward at six months, one year and every five years.

Risk: Is negligible.

Cost: Estimate – $1000 per ten year employment

Potential Effectiveness: 3

Consider Remote Work Options

Why: The majority of IT work does not require a physical presence. The appeal of being able to travel and work, or simply work from home a few days a year is excellent to promote a feeling of freedom and good mental health.

How: Obviously the nature of the work determines how many remote work days are appropriate for any given position, but ten days a year is a good ballpark. The days should be floating, so a worker can use one to fight burnout or schedule a group of them for a pseudo vacation. Allowing up to five days a year to roll over is also worthwhile.

Risk: The biggest risk is with exposing sensitive data. This has happened several times with Apple Inc. and other major companies. The two biggest defenses against data leaks are a stable VPN and contractual accountability for work devices.

Cost: is negative. Overhead is minimally reduced without adding expenses.

Potential Effectiveness: 4

Flexible Hours

Why: Many aspects of IT work require abnormal hours in the first place. The work also appeals to a demographic with abnormal sleeping habits. Rigid schedules can keep you from securing otherwise amazing talent.

Give your employees some freedom in selecting their schedules, but lock it into a three-month rotation.

How: Flexible does not mean free floating. Give your employees some freedom in selecting their schedules, but lock it into a three-month rotation. This gives them the chance to adjust things that may be incorrect, and it lets management prevent holes from opening. Resolve conflicting schedule requests by seniority, and remember that flexible hours don’t just apply to overnight work and weekends. Split day shifts and three day work weeks can still be productive.

Risk: Scheduling is much more difficult like this. You may need extra manpower to ensure that adequate IT resources are available whenever they are needed.

Cost: Is limited to potential increase in overall man hours. Estimate – varies widely by company size.

Potential Effectiveness: 4

Food and Drink

Why: Studies have shown that feeding employees with quality food shows a 150 percent return on investment. It promotes good health, makes workers feel appreciated and cuts travel time out of lunch breaks. Loyalty, productivity and overall satisfaction all rise substantially with this simple investment.

How: Determining the extent to which you want to provide food and drink mostly comes down to budget. The most beloved companies have in-house catering that provides breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. The truth is, a single healthy snack and beverage a day will see the same percentage return as catered meals. The more you spend, the more you get back, so it’s all a matter of determining how much you want to spend. In every case, consult with professional caterers to nail down the logistics.

Risk: Is negligible.

Cost: Estimate – $5-$20 per employee per meal

Potential Effectiveness: 3

Sabbaticals

Why: Sabbaticals are an excellent opportunity for professional caliber employees to better themselves and their craft. They also eliminate burnout and foster an exceptional sense of being appreciated.

How: There are a broad number of ways to approach sabbaticals. While the namesake comes from the tradition of offering them every seven years, the goals can be set to completion milestones or offered on a request only basis. The length of the sabbaticals is also adaptable, but they should endure for at least a full month, and multiple months is typical. You also have room for creativity in pay. An employee traveling to another of your company’s locations could be given room and board along with income, while someone with a less specific sabbatical plan may earn a reduced salary paired with low work expectations while they are away. Ultimately, the key is freedom. Make the sabbatical too rigid and it will lose its value.

Risk: There is always a minimal risk of employees losing the will to return to the pre-sabbatical status quo, but it’s very rare.

Cost: Again the range is vast, but typically you can gauge it as vacation pay equal to the duration of the sabbatical. Availability of sabbaticals is the easiest way to adjust them to a budget.

Potential Effectiveness: 4.5

What are some other ideas and strategies your company has implemented to attract and retain the best Tech Talent?