10 Strategies For Retaining Talent — Keep Your Tech Rockstars!

Posted on May 23, 2019 by .

With software developer turnover rate being the highest of any industry (13.2%), making sure you do everything you can to keep your tech rockstars is definitely top of mind. Perhaps an explanation is an overall theme of employee dissatisfaction in tech as compared to other industries. This recent survey discovered that less than 20% of IT employees are satisfied at work. Whether this actually reflects their sentiment or is partially a function of how many options they have (grass is always greener), it doesn’t change the battle for employers.

There are many strategies for retaining talent, but we have found that these ten are the ones that have worked well for our clients and in the tech industry as a whole. Guess what, all of them have to do with employee satisfaction and happiness.

1 – Offer education opportunities

Education as a benefit is quickly becoming one of the hot HR topics. This is quantifiably proven by  Guild Education (Denver-based company-focused education provider) closing a $40 million series C. It’s shown to be a win-win for the employer and employee, as employee satisfaction/retention goes up and the employer gains more skills on the team. This also helps alleviate one of the big fears for many software developers, which is having an outdated tech skillset. Education opportunities should not be limited to just their field, but also respect the ambitions for personal development.

2 – Offer mentorship opportunities

We interviewed over a dozen of our favorite software engineers, and unprompted one element of workplace satisfaction that the majority mentioned was “mentorship opportunity.” For many software engineers, the act of teaching someone that is more junior than themselves is not only socially satisfying but helps them think about problems from a different perspective. This effect is well documented and referred to as the protégé effect. There is a documented connection between the altruistic nature of teaching and the diligence it inspires.

TLDR; for every employee you empower to teach, you actually end up with two smarter employees. (And happier employees)

3 – Facilitate engagement with the local tech community

Your employees’ reputations in the local community as a thought leader is highly tied to their satisfaction and career mobility. In tech, the retention game has an inherent level of transience to it. You cannot keep everyone forever, but empowering them to feel important and known in the community will help keep them longer. Giving your team opportunities (on company time) to talk on panels, invite their friends into the office by hosting a community event (like Built In Brews), or participating in fun events like Startup Games will keep them loving where they work.

On the more formal end of things, you can encourage your employees to submit panel ideas/offer panel participation to Denver Startup Week or Boulder Startup Week. It might be a little stressful to put content together and be in front of tons of people but the feeling when it’s done is great. On top of that, you get to highlight your rockstar employee in all the company and local channels.

4 – Check in on mission/impact alignment of every employee

Work that is personally important to the employee (meaning) and is for the greater good (impact), is not only a big part of employee satisfaction but also is one of Googles five tenants of highly successful teams. You can monitor two very import potential inflection points by asking your employees, “Are you feeling like your work has meaning? Are you feeling like your work makes an impact? Why or why not?” Monitor, analyze, and adjust.

5 – Open regular feedback loops for desired benefits and perks

How often do you ask your team what benefits or perks they want… formally, not just in passing at the water cooler?

It’s so easy today to throw together a Google form and survey your team for more happiness points. Also, this allows for more transparency. Share the data and then execute upon the wants that the team as a whole has expressed. Knowing the landscape of benefits in your space is also critical to gauge how you stack up, BuiltInColorado has that handled for you.

6 – Check in on commuting stress

“How hard is it to get to the office?” That’s all you have to ask but do it regularly. Most of our booming tech cities are victims of constantly shifting road construction that can add precious time to an employee’s commute. Set the precedent of giving temporary remote working privileges to those employees who have major construction happening on their commute. Also, make sure to take note of who has moved and if it made their commute better or worse.

7 – Promote good health

This one is a no brainer. Diet, exercise, sleep, meditation – in the gym or in the mountains, just make it happen.

Companies that promote good health in employees see decreases in absenteeism and 66% will see increased productivity.

8 – Demonstrate appreciation with surprise fun

Especially if it is well thought out, creative, and offers bonding opportunities for employees. Similar to the concepts of productivity methods like the Pomodoro Technique, sometimes you need to stop/slow down to go faster. Make everyone stop and smell the roses. If you are having trouble coming up with some ideas, here are 10 fun ideas or 18 employee recognition focused concepts to play with.

9 – Have transparent career advancement paths laid out

When you are writing job descriptions, are you also thinking about what that role will grow into? If not, it is something that should be remedied urgently. If you don’t have a plan for how that role can grow in the organization, how do you think the employee is going to feel? They’ll feel like they are in the dead-end job that’s how.

Planning and transparency of career paths and ladders on a role level will not only help current employee satisfaction but is a huge selling point in the recruiting process. Think, “If you work here with us in this role, we expect you to be here within three years…” Sounds nice right?

10 – Accountability partners for personal and professional goals and/or workplace coaches

Sometimes a lack of engagement from an employee is not entirely their fault, it could be systemic. There are ways to nip that right at the bud. One trend that is gaining momentum is the workplace coach. These people differ from managers as they are not performance focused, but look to help other employees achieve their personal development goals. A less formal way to to do this is to encourage every employee to have an accountability partner, which you can learn more about here.  Support one or both of these initiatives with time and money if necessary.

On top of easing recruiting pressure, higher employee satisfaction is directly linked to higher customer satisfaction. Do everything you can to keep the A-Players on your team and kill two birds with one stone.

If you have some other strategies for retaining tech talent that you think should be added to this list, let us know!


Here at BWBacon Group, we know and live what you are experiencing as an employer or job seeker in Denver, Boulder, Dallas, San Francisco, New York City or any of the other cities we work in. We believe great recruiting starts and ends with understanding people.

If you have any questions about living, working or playing any of the areas we serve, please contact us. We are happy to help. Seize the day, every day, that’s what we say!

 

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