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7 Ways to Increase Employee Retention on Your Tech Team

Written By April Bohnert | September 19, 2023

Your tech team is the backbone of your business. Regardless of your size or industry, the quality and dedication of the tech professionals on your team can make or break your success. But there’s a catch: while it’s essential to hire the right talent, keeping them is a whole other challenge. And when it comes to tech roles, the stakes are exceptionally high.

Research has repeatedly shown the staggering costs associated with employee turnover. For technical roles in particular, the average cost to replace an employee can be 100% to 150%of their annual salary. And we’re not just talking about recruitment expenses. Think about the time invested in training, the gaps left in projects, and the potential drop in team morale. In the tech sector, where projects can be intricate and require specialized knowledge, losing an employee can set a team back by weeks, if not months.

But the story doesn’t end with challenges. High retention rates translate into consistent product development, more effective teams, and often, a stronger bottom line. If you’re an HR leader or a hiring manager, prioritizing employee retention isn’t just a nice-to-have; it’s a must.

Ready to make the shift? Read on as we delve into tried-and-true strategies for retaining your top tech talent, ensuring they’re not just onboard but here to stay.

1. Create an Upskilling Program

In 2019, 94% of employees reported that they would stay at a company longer if it invested in helping them learn. By investing in your employees’ growth, companies can increase employee job satisfaction and make them more likely to stay with the company in the long term.

Enter upskilling. Upskilling refers to the process of teaching your team new skills or improving their existing ones to meet the changing demands of your industry. It’s about investing in your people, helping them grow, and ultimately ensuring that your organization is equipped to navigate the tech landscape of today — and the future. 

Effective methods for upskilling your team include:

  • On-the-job training: Perhaps the most effective way to learn is by doing. Encourage your team to take on new responsibilities or projects that will stretch their current skill set. Provide them with an upskilling program, but allow them the autonomy to learn and grow.
  • Online courses and certifications: The internet is a treasure trove of learning resources. Companies like HackerRank, Coursera, and Udemy offer courses in a wide range of tech subjects. Additionally, these courses often come with certifications that can further validate your team’s new skills.
  • Conferences, webinars, and workshops: These events provide opportunities to learn from industry experts and keep up with the latest trends. Encourage your team to attend these events, either in person or virtually.
  • Mentoring and coaching: Pairing less experienced team members with more experienced ones can be a great way to transfer knowledge within the team. The less experienced members can learn from the successes and mistakes of their mentors, while the mentors can also learn from fresh perspectives.
  • Experiential learning: Experiential learning is an educational approach that emphasizes the importance of learning through direct, hands-on experiences and active engagement. rather than solely relying on traditional classroom instruction or passive learning methods. An example of experiential learning for developers would be a hackathon.

2. Foster a Growth Mindset

Embracing a growth mindset — the belief that abilities can develop through dedication and hard work — is pivotal for tech teams. In fact, Carol Dweck, who first coined the term, found that employees at companies that embrace a growth mindset are 49% more likely to say that the company fosters innovation — a sentiment that can go a long way toward retaining top talent — and 34% likelier to feel a strong sense of ownership and commitment to the company.

Tech professionals constantly face novel challenges. A growth-mindset culture champions adaptability, turning statements like “We’ve never done this before” into “Let’s learn something new.”

Here are a few tips for building a growth mindset among your tech team:

  • Celebrate Efforts: Recognize hard work and problem-solving, not just successful outcomes.
  • Encourage Curiosity: Hold monthly tech talks or innovation days to discuss the latest trends.
  • Provide Learning Tools: Give access to courses, workshops, and resources to motivate growth.
  • Normalize Mistakes: View errors as learning opportunities, not just setbacks.

Prioritizing a growth-mindset culture ensures that your tech team stays innovative and resilient in the face of change.

3. Offer Competitive Compensation and Benefits

The tech industry is known for its lucrative salaries and swanky perks. But in this competitive landscape, simply offering a good paycheck isn’t enough. 

Research has shown that salaries and benefits are the number one motivator for workers changing jobs. Even with the best culture and most exciting projects, if your tech talent believes they can get a better financial deal elsewhere, the temptation to jump ship increases.

However, a competitive salary is just one side of the coin. Tech professionals today are looking for a complete package that balances both monetary compensation and a range of benefits to enhance their quality of life. 

Benefits that play a pivotal role in retention include:

  • Health and Well-Being: Comprehensive health insurance, mental health support, and wellness programs are no longer luxury perks; they’re a standard expectation.
  • Professional Development: Consider offering a yearly stipend for courses, conferences, or workshops. When employees see that their personal growth aligns with the company’s investment in them, it fosters loyalty.
  • Unique Perks: Some companies have started to introduce more unique benefits such as pet insurance, child care assistance, or extended parental leave. Such perks, although not universally applicable, can make a huge difference for specific employees.

Regularly evaluate your compensation and benefits against industry standards, and listen to your team’s feedback to craft a package that resonates — and retains.

4. Support Work-Life Balance and Flexibility

In an age where the boundaries between work and personal life can blur — especially in tech — offering flexibility is a necessity. For many tech professionals, the ability to maintain a harmonious work-life balance is as valuable, or even more valuable, than a pay raise. And companies that offer good work-life balance experience 25% less attrition.

Tech roles can sometimes demand unpredictable hours. While the occasional crunch is understandable, consistently expecting late nights and weekend work can lead to burnout. This not only affects an individual’s health and well-being but can also have repercussions for team morale and overall productivity.

So, how can companies support a better balance?

  • Flexible Hours: Allow employees to start and end their day according to what suits their personal schedule best. This flexibility can be especially beneficial for parents, caregivers, or those with long commutes.
  • Remote Work Options: Even post-pandemic, the appeal of remote work remains strong. Offering the option, even if it’s just a couple of days a week, can make a world of difference in employee satisfaction.

5. Encourage Inclusion and Diversity

A thriving tech team is often a diverse one. It’s not just about assembling talent from various backgrounds but about fostering an environment where every team member feels valued and included. A commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) is increasingly becoming a key factor in retaining top tech talent, with research showing companies are 2.6 times more likely to engage and retain talent when they promote and support DEI in the workplace.

Here are some strategies for enhancing DEI on your tech team:

  • Skills-Based Hiring: Shifting to a skills-based hiring approach helps furthers workplace diversity, equity, and inclusion. By prioritizing candidates’ competency and skills companies can expand their search to a broader range of applicants.
  • Mitigating Bias in Hiring: Introduce hiring practices like blind recruitment and diverse interview panels to minimize unconscious biases.
  • Continuous Education: Regular workshops on topics like unconscious bias and cultural sensitivity can reshape company culture over time.
  • Elevate Diverse Voices: Actively promote and support underrepresented groups to leadership roles and decision-making positions. When team members see diversity at all levels, it reinforces the company’s commitment to inclusion.

6. Give Regular Feedback and Recognition

In the high-paced environment of tech, where projects often run on tight deadlines and the pressure can be intense, acknowledgment of effort and achievements is paramount. Feedback, both constructive and positive, has a direct impact on an employee’s sense of value, motivation, and, ultimately, decision to stay or leave a company. A study from Gallup and Workhuman found that when an employer recognizes important life events and work milestones, their employees are more than 30% more likely to say they plan to stay with the organization for the next five years.

Here are some effective ways to increase recognition and feedback on your tech team:

  • Regular Check-ins: Don’t wait for annual reviews. Regular check-ins, whether monthly or quarterly, offer a platform for real-time feedback.
  • Public Praise: Recognizing an individual’s or a team’s achievements in company meetings or group channels can have a profound impact on morale. It not only acknowledges their effort but elevates their status amongst peers.
  • Constructive Feedback: While positive recognition is crucial, so is constructive feedback. It should be precise, timely, and offered in a manner that facilitates growth rather than demotivation.
  • Tailored Reward Systems: Beyond verbal recognition, consider implementing reward systems, whether through bonuses, gift cards, additional time off, or other meaningful incentives that resonate with your tech team.

Embedding a culture of consistent feedback and recognition within your tech team is an investment. The return? A motivated, engaged, and loyal workforce committed to driving the company’s vision forward.

  1. Provide Opportunities for Advancement

Most tech professionals are inherently driven by innovation, learning, and growth. One of the primary reasons tech talent may seek opportunities elsewhere is the perceived ceiling on their career trajectory within their current company. In fact, research from Paychex found that 63% of workers said they would be more likely to stay at their company if they were given better opportunities to advance in their careers. When looking at tech teams specifically, 47% of technologists consider leaving their current employer in order to grow their responsibilities and skill sets. 

When tech professionals can envision a future with the company, seeing tangible steps and opportunities to climb the career ladder, they’re more inclined to stay and grow with the organization.

Here are some strategies for showcasing advancement opportunities:

  • Clear Career Ladders: Design and communicate a transparent career progression path within the tech team. Whether it’s moving from a junior developer to a senior one or transitioning into a managerial role, knowing the steps and requirements can empower employees to drive their careers forward.
  • Leadership Training: For those showing potential or interest in management or leadership roles, offering training specific to these skills can be invaluable. It not only prepares them for future positions within the organization but signals that the company is actively investing in their progression toward such roles.

Cultivating a Retentive Tech Culture

With the rapid pace of innovation and a competitive talent market, retaining your best tech talent is paramount. Increasing retention in your tech team is less about grand gestures and more about building a culture. A culture where growth is encouraged, effort is acknowledged, and each individual feels they’re an essential piece of the puzzle. In doing so, you’re not just retaining talent; you’re fostering an environment where they can thrive.

This article was written with the help of AI. Can you tell which parts?

Abstract, futuristic image generated by AI

How to Build a Learning and Development Program for Your Tech Team