5 Reasons Good IT Employees Leave (and How to Prevent It)

IT employee turnover

It takes a lot of effort to recruit, hire, onboard and train good IT employees. When the good ones quit, all that time, money and other resources you’ve invested is lost and you’re back at square one. Meanwhile, the burden on your existing IT team increases, risking the burnout and loss of even more team members.

It’s a vicious and expensive cycle. And it’s all too common in the IT industry. According to one study by XpertHR, the average turnover of technology staff is 18.3% – though many in leadership would suggest that number is actually much higher.

So, what’s the solution? Is there a way to proactively prevent the attrition of valuable employees? The secret lies in staff satisfaction, but you can’t achieve this unless and until you understand and address the underlying reasons why your good employees are jumping ship.

In doing our own research, we’ve uncovered the top 5 reasons good IT employees leave and what you can do to prevent it from happening to your team.

Lack of Engagement

According to a recent Gallup report, the ratio of actively disengaged employees has reached an all-time high of 2.6 to 1. What is disengagement? Well, it means that employees are not emotionally or cognitively connected to their work or employer. They may show up and perform what’s expected of them, but they’d likely leave in a heartbeat if another company offered them something even slightly better.

Assessing employee engagement requires empathy and astuteness on the part of IT leadership. Look for certain subtle signs, such as a change in attitude or behavior with colleagues, a dip in performance or an increase in absenteeism. These factors should be evaluated on an individual basis, as each employee is different. If you notice any of these signs, it’s time for a one-on-one to find out what’s wrong and how it can be fixed.

Poor Leadership

It’s been said that people don’t leave jobs, they leave managers. And if you’ve ever had the displeasure of working for a lousy manager, it’s a sentiment that isn’t too difficult to understand. When you lose top talent, the first place you should be looking is at leadership. As painful as it may be, recognizing that your management style may be part of the problem is the first step to turning things around.

Do your employees feel valued and supported by their managers? Are their questions, challenges and suggestions welcomed, acknowledged and – whenever possible – acted on? It takes commitment and empathy, but listening to and addressing your employees’ concerns can go a long way toward retaining your A-players.

And don’t forget – people in management need training and coaching too. Be sure the individuals you have placed in charge are armed with the resources, education and support they need to lead effectively.

No Growth Opportunity

Lack of IT career advancement

Another significant reason talented employees move on to greener pastures is because they feel there is no room for growth in their current position. Sure, some folks are perfectly content remaining in the same role for decades, but most people have ambitions and goals for career advancement.

This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to offer endless promotions. For smaller organizations, this simply isn’t always possible. What you can and absolutely should do, however, is make educational opportunities readily available to your employees. This will generate mutual value for your staff and your organization as a whole.

Outdated Technology

It doesn’t matter how well your IT workers are compensated. If they’re stuck using clunky, antiquated systems, apps and other technology, chances are they’re going to lose interest and move on. We’re not necessarily saying you have to spend every last penny of your budget on every shiny new tool or platform that comes along, but if you’re neglecting this area or have simply become complacent, there’s a very good chance that’s why your talented team members are jumping ship.

Keeping your technology current can help keep your IT workers engaged and relevant. In particular, leveraging the power of leading-edge capabilities, like AI technology and intelligent IT automation, will not only keep your teams’ skills up-to-date, but it’ll also make their jobs infinitely easier. That’s not even taking into account the cost savings, boost in productivity, increased efficiency and other benefits your organization will also enjoy as a result.

Lack of Flexibility and Work-Life Balance

IT employee burnout

When it comes to employee happiness, flexibility and balance are key. This is especially the case in the fast-paced and often chaotic IT space. If there’s one positive that came out of the recent pandemic, it’s that the transition to remote work was accelerated.

Still, not all organizations have embraced the concept of a virtual workforce. Likewise, if your IT team is so bogged down and overwhelmed with work that they can’t afford to take a day off now and then, don’t expect them to stay.

To keep your top talent engaged, both with their work as well as your organization, you must accommodate their needs. This means offering a flexible schedule, the option to telecommute and the ability to enjoy ample downtime.

Again, this is where technology can help. For instance, IT automation can be used to both facilitate virtual workers as well as lessen the workload for the IT team. With artificial intelligence picking up the slack, employee vacations won’t be an issue.

Employee turnover can be costly and frustrating. By understanding the reasons why good people are leaving, you can do more to proactively prevent additional attrition in the future while simultaneously creating a workplace where employees are valued, engaged, productive and loyal.

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