Refocusing on retention

Remember back to the late '90s when many IT departments seemingly had a revolving door for job hoppers? In a fight to attract and keep the best people, companies offered nearly every type of perk imaginable. Now that the economy is improving, CIOs are once again paying attention to retention.

While many companies pushed employee retention efforts onto the back burner over the past few years, new research from IT staffing firm Robert Half Technology suggests that the tide may be turning. In a survey of 1,400 CIOs, 58% said keeping their best people is becoming more critical in a recovering job market.

"Employee retention should be a high priority in any economic environment, but it is particularly important when firms are preparing for growth and new business opportunities," says Katherine Spencer Lee, executive director of Robert Half Technology. "Turnover can be costly for organizations in terms of lost productivity and intellectual capital, as well as recruitment and training expenses."

Lee offers the following tips for reducing your risk of losing top IT talent:

  • Focus on the individual. Customize training and career planning to each employee's strengths and interests. For example, does one person desire a management track or more hands-on work running the network?
  • Send in reinforcements. Bring in extra staff and help workers prioritize projects during busy times to quell stress and burnout.
  • Empower employees. Demonstrate trust in your workers by allowing them to implement their ideas and make strategic decisions.
  • Offer praise. It doesn't cost you anything to say thank you and acknowledge your team's contributions. Writing a simple note or recognizing workers during a staff meeting can boost morale.
  • Pay fairly. A competitive compensation and benefits package shows employees you place fair value on their work.

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