IT Employee Retention in 2024 – A Developer’s Perspective

As a developer, I often lack insights into the challenges faced by human resource specialists in retaining employees within an organization. Despite the significant layoffs in the IT sector in 2023, leading to 224,503 job losses, the demand for new talent in technology remains robust. The key question is whether IT employees are perceived as […]

by Veselin Todorov

January 12, 2024

7 min read

Image by Freepik

As a developer, I often lack insights into the challenges faced by human resource specialists in retaining employees within an organization. Despite the significant layoffs in the IT sector in 2023, leading to 224,503 job losses, the demand for new talent in technology remains robust. The key question is whether IT employees are perceived as valuable, and if so, what strategies should be implemented to retain them.

What are “retention” and “retention rate”

In order to understand what the retention I expect to be in 2024, we have to clarify what are retention and retention rates and why they are important. Experienced employees are highly valued in any industry – but even more so in tech companies. The cost of training tech staff is much higher than most industries, making it very important for tech companies to retain experienced employees as long as possible. Here is where retention comes into play.

  • Employee retention is a reference to an organization’s strategy to prevent employees from leaving. When talent leaves, either voluntarily or involuntarily, it’s called turnover. 
  • An employee retention rate measures the percentage of employees who stay at your company over a specific period of time. High retention rates can indicate a high level of engagement, superior performance, and better customer service and customer retention. According to the general rule, 90% or more is considered a good retention rate. For instance, Dreamix has a 95% retention rate.

Employee retention is crucial for the success of an organization. When organizations and leaders can retain their people, they benefit from preserving institutional knowledge, reducing recruitment and training costs, lessening disruption, and fostering a more stable and motivated workforce focused on achieving their goals.

What changed in organization strategies in 2023:

it specialist looking out window - IT Employee Retention in 2024 - A Developer’s Perspective

A major change that occurred outside of the layoffs is the Return-to-office policy. After 3 years of remote work appreciation, many tech giants (like Amazon, X, Google, Meta, and Broadcom) implemented mandates requiring employees to be in the office at least three days per week, according to Statista. What occurs as a challenge is that people hired during the full-time home office period may be unable to go to the office, which may in turn lead to leaving the company. Personally, if I had been in this situation, it would have had a definite negative impact on my professional life. I would have had no choice but to change my place of occupation, leading to the uncertainty of finding a new job, influenced by a lower number of job applications.

This is also supported by the Gartner HR Survey, which revealed that nearly half of employees (47%) actively looking for a new job were doing so because they wanted more flexibility. They also found that 75% of candidates who can work remotely prefer to work remotely more than 50% of the time. According to this, I can conclude that in 2024, one of the strategies for higher retention rate and smaller turnover will be keeping flexibility and enhancing it.

IT employee retention appreciation - IT Employee Retention in 2024 - A Developer’s Perspective

Furthermore, because of the 2023 layoffs, employees are now looking for secure workplaces. One way a company can show their employees that they are interested in keeping them is to work on their development. According to the LinkedIn 2023 Learning Report, the #1 way companies try to improve retention is by providing learning opportunities, followed closely by upskilling and creating a culture of learning. In my opinion, staff development opportunities are a great reason to stay at a workplace – that makes me feel appreciated and lets me know the company views me as a long-term investment, which also relieves the fear of an impending layoff.

Finally, appreciation is something that boosts the desire of an employee to stay in the company. A 2023 State of Recognition Report made by the Achievers Workforce Institute states that 64% of employees agree that being recognized would reduce their desire to job hunt. They explain the reason behind that: “Employees who receive frequent recognition – at least monthly – are more likely to report being engaged, committed, and productive, compared to those recognized less frequently. A simple, meaningful ‘thank you’ can move the needle on engagement and retention as much as a recognition that comes with money.”. I support this statement – salary is guaranteed and something we’re used to receiving, but verbal appreciation is something most people aren’t used to, and therefore has a great impact on motivation.

IT employee retention strategies

For me the right strategy leads to the right results. The earlier mentioned problems could be solved through putting in some effort in the following strategies . Of course they are not the only strategies you should use and you should find what works for you, but they are a good starting point, because they address the most severe problems for employees.

Flexible Work Arrangements:

  • Remote Work Options: Allow employees to work remotely, either permanently or through a flexible schedule. This can be particularly beneficial for IT professionals who may not need to be physically present in the office every day.
  • Flexible Hours: Implement flexible work hours, enabling employees to choose their start and end times within certain limits. This can help accommodate different lifestyle needs.

Training and Skill Development:

  • Continuous Learning Opportunities: Invest in training and development programs to enhance employees’ skills. This benefits the organisation and shows a commitment to the professional growth of your IT team members.
  • Career Pathing: Develop a clear career path for IT employees, outlining opportunities for advancement within the organization. This gives them a sense of purpose and long-term commitment.
  • One-on-One Meetings: Conduct regular one-on-one meetings between managers and employees to discuss workload, challenges, and potential adjustments needed to maintain work-life balance.
  • Employee Surveys: Periodically gather feedback through surveys to assess the effectiveness of work-life balance initiatives and identify areas for improvement.

Recognition and Rewards:

  • Performance Recognition: Implement a robust performance recognition system, acknowledging and rewarding exceptional work. This can include bonuses, promotions, or even public recognition within the organization.
  • Non-Monetary Rewards: Offer non-monetary rewards such as additional days off, flexible scheduling options, or other perks that contribute to a positive work-life balance.
  • Recognition for Balance: Recognize and celebrate individuals or teams that consistently maintain a healthy work-life balance.

Employee Wellness Programs:

  • Mental Health Support: Provide resources and support for mental health, such as employee assistance programs, counseling services, or stress management workshops.
  • Wellness Initiatives: Introduce wellness initiatives like fitness programs, mindfulness sessions, or ergonomic workspace setups to promote a healthy work environment.
  • Lead by Example: Encourage leaders and managers to model healthy work-life balance behaviors. This includes taking breaks, utilizing flexible work options, and respecting employees’ time off.

IT employee retention tools 

These days, many tools are used to achieve and maintain a higher retention rate, but I’d like to mention the ones related to what I consider to be the 3 main challenges: flexibility, skills development and recognition. I will also mention some mental health-enhancing tools, because I believe mental health and work-life balance are a critical part of employee satisfaction.

Flexibility:

To be flexible, you have to have good communication and connection with remote employees. Here are a few tools I’ve encountered in my work that let you do that:

  • Slack, Microsoft Teams, or Zoom: Effective communication is crucial for remote and in-house teams. These tools facilitate real-time communication, collaboration, and virtual meetings, improving overall team cohesion.
  • Yammer, Jive, or Slack Channels: Foster a sense of community and connection among employees, whether they’re working in the office or remotely.
  • Microsoft 365, Google Workspace: Cloud-based collaboration platforms enable flexible work arrangements by allowing employees to access documents and collaborate from anywhere. This is essential for remote work and flexible schedules.
  • Hubstaff, Time Doctor, or Toggl: For remote teams, these tools help monitor productivity and track time. It’s important to balance the use of such tools with respect for employees’ privacy and trust.

Development:

As I said earlier, investing in an employee’s development and skills shows them that the company thinks about them. Let’s look at some popular options for employee development tools and solutions:

  • BambooHR, WorkBright, or Sapling: Streamline the onboarding process to ensure new hires feel welcome and quickly become productive members of the team.
  • LifeDojo, Morneau Shepell, or ComPsych: EAPs offer counselling and support services for employees facing personal or work-related challenges, contributing to overall well-being.
  • LinkedIn Learning, Pluralsight, Udemy: Offer access to online courses and learning resources to support continuous skill development. This not only enhances employees’ knowledge but also demonstrates a commitment to their professional growth.
it employee retention recognition - IT Employee Retention in 2024 - A Developer’s Perspective

Recognition:

Bonusly, Kazoo, or Recognize – they implement a recognition program to acknowledge and reward employees for their achievements. This can boost morale and job satisfaction.

Mental health:

Headspace, Calm, Wellable – promote employee well-being by providing access to mental health and wellness apps. These tools offer guided meditation, stress relief exercises, and fitness challenges.

In summary, as organizations confront evolving dynamics shaped by factors like the Return-to-office policy and post-layoff uncertainties, it is clear that adapting to change is crucial. To foster a stable and motivated workforce, companies should embrace flexibility, prioritize continuous learning and skill development, and implement robust recognition and employee wellness initiatives. Through the combination of these strategies, organizations can not only retain valuable IT talent but also cultivate an environment conducive to professional growth, job satisfaction, and a harmonious work-life balance.

Categories

Junior Software Engineer at Dreamix