Why employee retention is now more important than ever

Last month Tom Silver, Vice President of Dice North America, published a great article in Talent Management's July newsletter discussing how the current economic recovery is actually leading to increased turnover within tech departments. Citing the Dice Retention Survey, Mr. Silver went on to discuss that the "do more with less" mentality within tech departments over the last few years has caused more and more technology professionals to look at other job opportunities.

Among the most startling statistics:

    • Fifty-one percent of tech professionals intend to move to a new employer in 2010.


    • Fifty-three percent have not vocalized their frustrations with their current employers.


    • Only 15 percent believe their companies have taken positive steps to keep them from changing jobs.

Surprised? At first glance I was. But are the results really that shocking? After more than two years of a down economy and constant uncertainty in the workplace, should we really be surprised that employees are looking for new jobs now that there are some jobs to be had?

While I would bet that many of these employees would choose employment over unemployment any day, the stress of the last few years was bound to take a toll. With co-workers being laid off, limited resources, and budget cuts, it's no wonder job satisfaction is so low. I'm deflated just typing that sentence.

While Mr. Silver went on to offer several retention tips for tech employers, one of the most important pieces of advice he offered was to develop customized retention programs. Obviously, pay raises and bonuses can aid in retention, but if your employees dread coming to work each day, even the promise of more money might not be enough. That said, I do think there are a few easy actions employers can take to ensure they keep their top talent.

Recognize performance. I'm not sure I can stress the importance of recognition enough. I'm not talking about formal performance awards, but simple recognition of a job well done. For me, this definitely goes a long way, especially when times are tough. While an actual pat on the back could get you in trouble with HR, acknowledging daily accomplishments lets your employees know that their hard work has not gone unnoticed. It also gives them the motivation and encouragement needed to tackle the next challenge.

Align the job title to the position. As an employee, there is nothing worse than doing the jobs of three people and having a job title that doesn't reflect the added responsibility. Bill Taylor at the Harvard Business Review recently wrote a great post on the importance of job titles. The post discussed the various unique job titles some companies have come up with to keep people excited about their jobs (such as calling a receptionist a Director of First Impressions), and also stressed the importance of making sure the job title reflects what employees do and how they are known.

This doesn't mean you have to come up with witty job titles for every employee or promote everyone to keep them happy. But making sure that an employee's job title fits the position demonstrates that you care enough about the employee to make sure they are accurately represented.

Communicate. As illustrated by the Dice Retention Survey, it seems that not only are employees not voicing their frustrations with their employers, but employers are not taking any steps to keep their employees happy. Keeping lines of communication open between managers and their employees will help to create more honest discussions about employee satisfaction. The more you know about how your employees feel about their job, the better you can figure out what keeps them satisfied, engaged, and motivated in their career.

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This post was written by former Seamless Workforce contributor Donna Vespe.

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