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How can I retain tech talent?

Startup Surgery

Dear Doctor, How can I retain tech talent?

Alexandra Slater says...


Tech employers face fierce competition when it comes to hiring and retaining talent. So once you’ve found the people who can help you grow, it’s important that you’re able to keep them on board.

Tech has become ubiquitous and the power has shifted to the candidate. In our recent 2017 Job Market Report, 42% of tech professionals surveyed are actively seeking a new job and 75% are expecting to change employers in the next year. These stats highlight the importance of holding on to your tech staff, this is even more pronounced for startups, where momentum is key.

Sometimes, the only card growing companies have to play is the promise of potential future gain and the pride that comes with having “been there from the beginning” – understandably, this is often not enough as there are plenty of companies offering job security and competitive rates of pay.

How your employees can play a role in attracting the best tech talent

Salary is a key driver for retaining tech talent – 30% of tech employees said that salary is the most important factor when choosing a new job. However, you’ll be glad to know, that there are other measures you can put in place to remain the most attractive option for your tech staff.

Offer career progression

Among perm tech professionals, 27% consider a clear career path to be the most important factor in staying in their current work. It’s not enough to simply use career progression as a carrot though – you must demonstrate that it’s realistically viable by being transparent about the process, deliverables and timeline.

If there is a flat organisational structure and there are no promotional opportunities, then you can look at tailoring individual bonuses, relate them to key company goals, so the business becomes more aligned.

Provide training in the areas that employees want to develop

55% of employees are planning to upskill through means that aren’t supported by their employers, such as self-funded training and projects outside of work, compared to 29% who intend to improve their skills through training provided by their employers.

Offering your staff the training that they want may not always fit with what your company needs, but if showing them that they’re important to you keeps them there longer, it could be worth it.

If the cost is prohibitive, there is plenty of funding available, perhaps consider organisations like the Digital Business Academy. It’s also worth trying to leverage relationships within your network to provide training opportunities, and job swaps, which can add value for all involved.

Make sure your tech staff feel challenged

People thrive on the feeling of doing something for themselves – try to show your employees that they’re valued, and that their opinions are trusted.

There’s nothing wrong with having a hierarchy in your organisation but modern employees don’t generally dig autocracy, so give your employees more autonomy to find and implement solutions to challenges.

The tasks they do should be engaging and rewarding too, so try to give them some variety in their day.

Create an enjoyable working environment

There are many aspects that make up a work environment, including the people who work there and the team dynamic, the company culture, group activities outside of work and other perks – all of these are things that you can influence.

Your staff want to feel that the company is secure and their job is safe, and they will often genuinely care about the business, so be transparent and keep them involved by updating them on what you’re doing and how things are going. Ask your employees what would make your company a more pleasant place to work, and then do whatever you can to make this a reality.

It’s important for people to feel that their work is rewarding on a personal level, so give your staff thanks for completing tasks and praise when they do something particularly impressive. Take an interest in their lives and well-being, and create a team spirit by getting everyone interested in each other’s achievements – and not just those within the workplace.

Making sure your people feel cared about and invested in on a personal level will make it very hard for them to leave.

Offer employee benefits

62% of permanent techies are expecting a salary increase in their next review. It’s hard to keep pace with expectations, so think about the whole package and offer other benefits to sweeten the deal.

You should probably start with a pension, as this is the most popular benefit among tech professionals. Others that you should consider are a company laptop and phone, private healthcare and flexible working hours.

Rest and recreation perks also go down well, so consider things like extra time off, free meals and sports activities – of course, what you offer your staff will depend on what makes them tick, so ask them what works for them.

For some it could be as simple as being able to bring their pets to work or seeing that the company has a commitment to CSR; for others, having access to the latest tech equipment and ergonomic workstations is what matters.

The final word – make sure you know your staff

With so much competition in the market, you can never guarantee that you’ll keep hold of your top tech talent, especially if you can’t provide a salary that is comparable to what the big players are promising.

But if you get to know the people in your organisation and what’s important to them on a personal level, there are plenty of things you can offer that will improve your odds of keeping your all-star team together.

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