FINDING CAPABLE TECH EMPLOYEES today is tough—keeping them might be even tougher. Indeed, tech recruiting firm LaSalle Network in Chicago recently surveyed 4,000 tech workers and found that 75% of respondents are open to new opportunities. Even more daunting: 50% have received two to four job offers in the past year.
Now more than ever, employee retention requires a strategy.
Money is a carrot, of course, but it’s not always financially feasible as a primary retention tool. Channel companies must strike a balance between compensation and revenue, as well as find other “carrots.”
At Nashville Computer, a security-centric MSP, salary increases are tied to training, a strategy that links employee compensation with skills needed by the company. “If you want to earn more money, there are certain certifications that are available,” says Charles Henson, managing partner of the Tennessee-based company. It’s up to employees to pursue the company-paid, on-demand training.
Company culture, though, more than money, is really the key to retention, according to LaSalle survey respondents, who ranked it first among the reasons why they stay at their current companies. Nashville Computer’s Henson, in fact, attributes the firm’s low attrition rates to the corporate culture.
“We are focused on our team first and our clients second,” Henson says. “If a client is disgruntled, argumentative, and disrespectful to our engineer, we have the engineer’s back and our employees know that.” In the past, Nashville has jettisoned clients that were rude to employees.
Henson says employee empowerment and sense of ownership are also critical aspects of the culture. Staff members evaluate new technologies and assess the feasibility of providing new services. The company's foray into managed services is just one example of this staff-driven process.
He’s doing a lot of things right, according to Paul Wallenberg, LaSalle’s senior manager of technology services, who says employees want both challenging work and the trust that they can do it autonomously. Providing access to vendors, the chance to work with new technologies, and project management processes that don’t involve frequent management check-ins are effective practices. Wallenberg also cites growing interest in flexible work arrangements that include working from home and shifting work hours to avoid commuting traffic.
Despite your best efforts, though, if an employee gives notice, use that as an opportunity. Ask people on the way out what they are getting at the new employer. Henson says he has convinced an employee to stay after such a conversation by implementing the feedback.
Finally, Wallenberg recommends spending time on “re-recruitment” by having big-picture conversations focused on career growth and opportunities—a common practice for new hires—with current staff. “If you’re not engaged in re-recruiting your employees,” Wallenberg says, “you can lose them.”