5 Things Companies Do That Tech Employees Don’t Like

December 1, 2016

These 5 thing will greatly reduce your chances of retaining your tech employees.

There’s mountains of data out there showing how in-demand tech talent is right now.

That makes retaining tech talent difficult, as many tech employees are regularly getting unsolicited job offers from other companies. At the same time, it’s particularly painful to lose tech employees, considering how much effort companies go through to recruit them in the first place.

So what’s the solution? How do you ensure you keep the tech talent you do recruit?

Well, you don’t do these five things:

1. Give tech workers no opportunity to learn new skills.

All employees want to learn on the job, as 78 percent of workers said they would stay with a company longer if there was a clear learning path. That’s particularly true for tech workers, who are eager to learn the latest technologies.

There’s a necessity to this as well. Recently at LinkedIn, we uncovered the top 10 most in-demand skills, most of which were tech skills. Interestingly, most of those in-demand tech skills weren’t on the list five years ago.

Hence, one of the best ways to turn off your tech employees is to make them feel like their skillset is getting outdated by offering them no learning opportunities.

2. Along those lines, train them only on tech skills.

Yes, there’s definitely a hunger by tech employees to learn new tech skills. But it’s a mistake to assume that’s all they want to master.

Tech employees, like any other employee, want to advance their career. And often that means mastering more than just tech skills. To get into leadership, for example, soft skills become increasingly more important.

Therefore, if you only train your tech employees on technical skills, you are limiting their career progression. And that’s not going to sit well with them.

3. You don’t emphasize the bigger purpose behind the work they’re doing.

Tech jobs are filled of hard work. Writing code, working at an IT desk or providing network security can all feel tedious after awhile.

That’s why explaining the purpose of that work is so critical. A hospital’s developers aren’t just writing code, they are ensuring patients get better healthcare. IT workers at an insurance company aren't just putting up firewalls, they are responsible for maintaining the trust customers have put in the organization.

Every organization does some benefit for society. The more you can emphasize that benefit and the part tech employees play in making it happen, the more engaged and motivated of a workforce you’ll have.

4. You consistently look outside the organization for leaders.

The biggest reason tech employees leave their job is for career progression. That means there is nothing tech workers hate more than a dead-end job.

Hence, there’s probably no bigger mistake an organization could make than consistently looking externally to fill leadership roles. That’s going to cause tech workers to believe their job is indeed a dead-end one, and inspire them to start looking elsewhere.

You might not be able to fill every leadership position with an internal candidate. But, by working to develop your people and looking internally first whenever you do hire for a leadership role, you’ll go a long way to retaining more of your employees.

5. Your managers don’t have career conversations with their employees.

Building off the last point, many managers do not have honest career conversations with their employees. That causes employees to keep their true ambitions a secret to their manager, only to surprise them when they announce they’ve taken a new job elsewhere.

It’s time to buck this trend, particularly for tech employees who have so many opportunities at other companies. Managers should proactively reach out to employees and ask them what their career aspirations are, and see what they can do to accommodate them.

This invariably results in more engaged employees and helps retention. Even if the company cannot accommodate the employee’s ambition, at least them leaving will not be a surprise and the company can plan accordingly.

Want to see a real-life example of how this works? Check out this article from LinkedIn’s former head of IT, Craig Williams, who uses this practice to great success.

*Image by Tim Dobbelaere, Flickr

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