3 ways to keep top performers from leaving

Recruiting new IT professionals to your organization may be more challenging today than in the environment we were in a few years ago, which makes retention of your current staff fundamental to any recruitment strategy. The good news is you can do a lot to prevent your top performers from leaving, and minimize the impact of a surprise resignation.

Exiting the computing business
Credit: Thinkstock

While the unemployment market in the U.S. is constantly shifting, IT continues to be a bright spot on the hiring front. With relatively low unemployment in technology roles, your top IT talent has numerous career options. There are many reasons IT pros look for new jobs, but it’s often for one (or a combination) of these reasons: There aren’t advancement opportunities, they need a new challenge, they feel they are underpaid or want better company benefits, or they can’t build their skills.

Signs an IT pro has one foot out the door

How will you know if they’re going to leave? Some clear indicators include: A decrease in work quality and/or an increase in complaints from customers or team members; a lack of commitment to goals or missed deadlines; forgetfulness or a lack of engagement; frequent, unusual absences; a sudden interest in career development; an improvement in work attire (a sign they may be interviewing); or a new interest in project results, which may be used to update their resume.

How to retain top performers on the team

The good news is that you can do a lot to prevent your top performers from leaving, and minimize the impact of a surprise resignation, including:

  1. Re-recruitment. Always start by re-recruiting the staff you have in place. Discuss each team member’s job satisfaction in regular, in-person meetings: Listen intently, understand the issues at hand, jointly formulate a plan to address any concerns, and map out a plan for the future. Make sure you create an environment where team members feel they can openly talk about their frustrations, challenges and career objectives with you.
  2. Mentoring. Create mentoring programs and training plans with up-and-comers, grooming them for the day you will need them to take on more responsibility or potentially fill the role of departing employees.
  3. Wish Lists. Never stop recruiting new candidates for your organization. Have a short-list of individuals you would want on your team. This can help you recover from a surprise loss by filling the gap more quickly and not making a hasty -- or even desperate -- hire.

Why counteroffers don’t work

Finally, a word about counteroffers: exercise caution when making them. I’ve found that they don’t usually produce the result you’re hoping for. They often don’t fix the main reason an employee wanted to leave to begin with, they can impact the morale of the rest of the team if they find out about it, especially if you offer a raise or promotion to keep someone, and you might end up questioning your employee’s loyalty after the initial happiness of retaining him or her wears off.

Recruiting new IT professionals to your organization may be more challenging today than in the environment we were in a few years ago, and this makes retention of your current staff fundamental to any recruitment strategy. The suggestions above should help.

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