With demand for IT workers continuing to grow and the labor market for tech talent remaining tight, CIOs can\u2019t afford to see IT workers \u2014 particularly high-performing ones \u2014 walk out the door.\n\nAnd yet, walk out they just might.\n\nAccording to the 2022 Tech Sentiment Report from Dice, 52% of respondents said they\u2019re likely to switch jobs in the next year, up from 44% just a year prior.\n\n\u201cThe market remains competitive for talent, and individuals have choices,\u201d says Craig Stephenson, managing director, North America, for the technology, digital, data and security officers practice at Korn Ferry, a management consulting firm.\n\nAnd with a well-staffed IT department being crucial for driving an organization\u2019s agenda forward, CIOs recognize how difficult \u2014 and expensive \u2014 it is to replace good workers.\n\nBut knowing how to retain valuable employees requires insights into why they leave. Here are 12 common reasons good employees jump ship and how IT leaders can counteract those factors.\n\n1. Compensation that\u2019s not competitive\n\nTight labor markets drive up salaries. Add to that the recent spike in inflation, and pay has become top of mind for employees, especially IT workers who know they don\u2019t have to stay with employers who aren\u2019t offering competitive compensation.\n\n\u201cTop performers aren\u2019t afraid to walk away from work because they\u2019re getting bombarded with phone calls from recruiters,\u201d says former CIO and staffing expert Ellen Shepard, adding that organizations seeking top performers are offering up to 120% of market rate to ensure they can get them.\n\nShepard, founder and CEO of The Resource Collaborative, a staffing, planning, and search firm, advises CIOs who find themselves paying under market rate for IT workers to make the case to their HR and C-suite colleagues for higher salaries by explaining that initiatives delayed due to IT staffing challenges is costing more than the cost of increasing pay.\n\n2. Lack of engagement\n\nWorkers who feel disconnected from development opportunities, management, or the organization\u2019s values are more likely to leave \u2014 and there\u2019s a good chance many of your workers feel that way.\n\nGallup\u2019s 2022 State of the Global Workplace found that employee engagement has dropped in recent years, going from 36% in 2020 to 34% in 2021 to just 32% in 2022.\n\nMeanwhile, the percentage of employees who say they\u2019re \u201cactively disengaged\u201d has been ticking up during that same timeframe, with 18% of employees in 2022 saying they feel that way.\n\n\u201cActively disengaged employees aren\u2019t just unhappy at work \u2014 they are resentful that their needs aren\u2019t being met and are acting out their unhappiness. Every day, these workers potentially undermine what their engaged coworkers accomplish,\u201d according to the Gallup report.\n\nConsequently, those disengaged workers could create a climate that prompts even engaged workers to want to leave.\n\nKnowing whether an employee is disengaged requires paying attention to subtle signs. Experts advise managers to study workers and ask themselves: Are they withdrawing from social activities? Calling in sick more than usual? Performing the bare minimum to get by?\n\n\u201cYou should be assessing factors on an individual basis rather than comparisons with [their] peers, or judging engagement based on productivity or quality of work,\u201d says Sanja Licina, Ph.D., president of workforce experience at QuestionPro. \u201cIf someone\u2019s always been outgoing, but suddenly they\u2019re more reserved, or they\u2019ve always participated in outside-of-work team building or activities and suddenly they aren\u2019t \u2014 those are signs, for sure. But if someone\u2019s an introvert, it can be trickier [to spot disengagement] unless you have built a personal relationship with them.\u201d\n\n3. No or unclear expectations\n\nAs a recruiter and former CIO, Shepard knows the importance of articulating expectations and setting goals for IT employee retention.\n\nWorkers across the board benefit from knowing what they need to accomplish to be successful, so they can best focus their time and efforts on what matters most, she says. That\u2019s particularly beneficial in IT, as IT workers often face more requests than available time \u2014 a situation that can be disheartening if CIOs and their managers don\u2019t adequately guide IT teams on priorities and objectives.\n\nOrganizations that have onboarding programs that outline what new hires are expected to achieve in the first six months, and that have managers who subsequently work with employees to together set new goals, tend to have better retention rates, Shepard says.\n\n4. No sense of impact\n\nEmployees who don\u2019t see the impact of their work are also more likely to leave. Anna Gajda, vice president of people and enablement at Bonn, Germany-based LeanIX, a maker of technology management software, says it\u2019s one of the top reasons workers give for leaving their jobs.\n\nWorkers want to know that they contribute to their employer\u2019s mission and that their work matters, Gajda says.\n\n\u201c[A technologist might ask:] Does the work I\u2019m doing drive the company? How does my work improve a product? How well do I understand whether my work is helping solve problems? And how much freedom do I have as an engineer to solve issues?\u201d she says.\n\nLeanIX helps its workers answer those questions by using systems that let them know how their work helps meet enterprise goals. Company leaders articulate objectives and ask engineers to create quarterly key results to achieve so they can see that they\u2019re hitting their goals.\n\nThe company also has monthly all-hands meetings that showcase successes, Gajda says, adding that teams also have biweekly retrospectives to discuss progress, new products and features delivered, and the individuals who made all that happen \u201cso the engineers get the visibility they deserve,\u201d she adds.\n\n5. Little or no top-level support for IT\n\nTechnologists also want to work at organizations that value IT and the contributions IT workers bring. They want to see that enterprise leaders have a clear technology strategy, see IT as an enabling function and give the IT team the ability to make a difference.\n\n\u201cThey want to be able to drive change,\u201d Stephenson says. When that is missing, workers are less likely to stay.\n\nCIOs, their C-suite colleagues, and board members must work together to incorporate technology into the overall enterprise strategy \u2014 a move critical for enterprise success, not just IT employee retention.\n\nAnd if that is happening, CIOs need to communicate it to their teams. \u201cThere needs to be clarity on technology strategy,\u201d Stephenson says.\n\n6. Not enough flexibility\n\nTech workers value flexible schedules and remote work options. Nearly 90% of technologists responding to the Dice Tech Sentiment survey said the opportunity to work remotely is a key factor in their interest in joining another organization.\n\nEmployees also want freedom to adjust work schedules, and won\u2019t stay with organizations that still \u201ctell them what to do, when and how to do it,\u201d Shepard says.\n\nManagers must give staffers options on where, when, and how to work, with clear policies that articulate when and why workers may be needed during certain hours or in the office, Shepard says. Trusting workers to structure some of their work time in ways that make the most sense for them, their teams, and the tasks they need to accomplish will go a long way toward helping to keep them.\n\n7. Management mishaps\n\nThere\u2019s an old expression: \u201cEmployees don\u2019t quit jobs, they quit managers.\u201d\n\nThat remains true today, according to recruiters, who hear from recruits the reasons they\u2019re seeking new jobs.\n\nManagers who fail to foster teamwork, engage staff members, and provide feedback can contribute to employee turnover. So do managers who aren\u2019t available to staffers or aren\u2019t open to hearing workers\u2019 suggestions, concerns, and challenges and helping them work through those.\n\nTom Gimbel, CEO and founder of LaSalle Network, a staffing firm, once saw an IT worker quit after his managers opted not to upgrade the security protocols he knew were needed. \u201cHe didn\u2019t want to get saddled with blame for the company not investing in what he recommended.\u201d\n\nOrganizations should focus on developing managers who are skilled in management. That sounds obvious, but HR execs and CIOs say it doesn\u2019t always happen in IT because workers who excel in technical work, and not necessarily managerial skills, are often the ones being promoted.\n\nCIOs should encourage managers to make time to listen to workers concerns and do what they can to address them.. That alone can go a long way toward keeping the best and brightest, HR professionals say.\n\n\u201cTech talent expects transparent and accountable management. The best talent wants to work where they feel their work has a real impact. If they feel leadership is not delivering results, they are more likely to leave,\u201d says KC George, a partner at Bain & Co. \u201cManagers should be visible and directly engage with employees, and should act with speed and decisiveness, and hold themselves accountable for real outcomes.\u201d\n\n8. No opportunities to grow\n\nOne of the main reasons top IT performers leave is because their career advancement isn\u2019t going as planned and they know they must continually update their skills to keep pace with the profession.\n\n\u201cIf you\u2019re not giving them that ability to grow, they\u2019re going to leave,\u201d Shepard says.\n\nMany organizations aren\u2019t offering growth opportunities. The 2023 State of Performance Enablement research report from Betterworks found that only 48% of employees feel they have a path for advancement at their current employer and 46% say they don\u2019t feel their employer supports their career aspirations.\n\nCIOs must give IT workers different ways to train and develop new skills and different paths for advancement as either individual contributors or managers.\n\nDynatrace has clear career tracks for its technology workers, says Chief People Officer Susan Quackenbush. One path allows workers to move into higher-level technologist positions and the other into manager roles, with both considered equivalent paths. \u201cWe find that this has helped with retention,\u201d she says.\n\n9. No cutting-edge tech or opportunities\n\nMost IT employees want to work on emerging technologies and explore new tech toys. They also want to keep their skills current in a quickly advancing profession. As a result, they seek employers who also value the importance of leveraging cutting-edge tech.\n\n\u201cThey want to know they\u2019re dealing with the latest and greatest, because they know if [they\u2019re] not, they\u2019re going to fall behind,\u201d says Gimbel, the LaSalle Network CEO.\n\nGimbel says top technologists often rank opportunities to work on the bleeding edge as a key reason to take or stay at a job. In fact, working with new tech is up there with compensation and quality bosses as the chief reasons IT pros want to work with a particular company.\n\n10. No regular check-ins\n\nOrganizations that aren\u2019t offering constructive feedback on a regular basis or discussing career goals at least once a year with employees risk falling out of touch with their talent, upping the chances they\u2019ll leave.\n\n\u201cLack of verbal communication amongst the organization is the main driver for employee departures,\u201d says Kira Meinzer, chief people officer at Envoy Global. \u201cIT leadership teams should encourage employees to pick up the phone or schedule a video meeting and have a conversation about their current role and any concerns they may have.\u201d\n\nHaving open discussions about where top employees see their future is key, she adds: \u201cAnother simple yet powerful question for managers to ask is, \u2018What is keeping you here now and what will keep you here for the future?\u2019\u201d\n\nOnce-a-year performance reviews are really the bare minimum. Experts agree more frequent reviews are better.\n\n\u201cFeedback is extremely important to the Millennial, X, and Y generations,\u201d says Bain\u2019s George. \u201cNot only checking in at regular intervals, but real-time live feedback is important. Top talent wants to remain at the top and is eager to continuously improve.\u201d\n\nRegular feedback will also give you more warning when people are feeling dissatisfied or disengaged.\n\n11. Workplace loneliness\n\n\u201cHumans are social creatures, and general belonging is something that has always been important,\u201d Gajda says.\n\nIt\u2019s an imperative for IT leaders to make sure their employees feel they belong, particularly with more people working remotely some or all the time and with the US surgeon general declaring loneliness an epidemic.\n\nTo Gajda, that means creating \u201ca feeling of safety and trust in the organization, where the employee is valued and celebrated for the uniqueness they provide\u201d and focusing on building interpersonal relationships.\n\nTo that end, LeanIX has a policy of having workers in the office at least 20% of their schedule to help foster interactions and build teams, Gajda says. Moreover, managers use that time to ensure connections by planning coding challenges, for example.\n\nCompanies can also encourage workers themselves to find ways to stay connected. Tech engineers at LeanIX, for example, stay live on their communications platform during their workdays to have \u201cthat ability as if they were in the office to just throw [questions and comments] into the room.\u201d\n\nQuackenbush says Dynatrace has taken similar steps to create a sense of belonging, recognizing its importance for employee retention. Training sessions in cohorts help create community in hybrid work environments, and employee resource groups foster further interactions, she says.\n\n12. Burnout\n\nThe Future Forum\u2019s Winter Pulse study, released in February, found burnout is still on the rise, \u201cwith 42% of the workforce reporting it.\u201d\n\nEmployers can\u2019t afford to ignore this issue: Respondents reporting burnout were 3.4 times more likely to say they \u201cdefinitely\u201d plan to look for a new job in the next year than those who said they weren\u2019t burned out.\n\nHR experts say there are ways to combat burnout: Pay attention to employees\u2019 struggle to manage work and home life, encourage breaks, train managers to be supportive and partners in problem-solving, offer wellness programs such as yoga classes or access to life coaches, and ensure a reasonable and achievable workload.\n\n\u201cAll that shows you respect your workers; it\u2019s saying, \u2018Your work and your life are both important and we\u2019re going to help you with that,\u2019\u201d Shepard says.