Why is churn so significant throughout the IT industry? Are employees fickle, or is there something more at work? Employees in enterprise IT have a very wide field of options; they aren't limited geographically or even by industry, and thus they have an extraordinary amount of mobility.
Employees may fall prey to the grass is greener mentality, or they may simply receive a barrage of better offers from other employers. An organization cannot fight all IT churn; it's simply a fact of the industry. But what an organization can do is create a culture of shared, tribal knowledge that transcends individual employees and reduces operational disruption.
Location, Location, Location
Geography no longer matters when IT professionals are choosing jobs. Many organizations do not require their IT engineers to be physically located in the office, which means an IT professional can work from anywhere in the world for anyone in the world. This expands the number of job opportunities from dozens to millions. An employee can almost always find an employer that better suits him or her on the horizon; the only questions are when they will look and whether they’ll continue to look.
Telecommuting remains a topic of debate, but if you’re losing resources to organizations that offer more location-flexibility, you may want to reconsider your policies.
A Demand-driven Market with Low Supply
The demand for IT professionals far exceeds the actual supply of IT professionals. Experienced, skilled employees can move virtually anywhere while still maintaining or improving their salary and benefits. This can make the idea of switching positions extremely alluring, especially when it's often easier to negotiate starting pay than to negotiate a raise.
It's a simple fact of life that someone will eventually make even your most loyal employees a better offer than you are currently providing them.
Salary is often a budgeted line item that is difficult to change mid-year once set. However, if your most valuable resources are leaving simply based on pay? Evaluating your pay scale is one step, but another is taking a look at adding monetary (and non-monetary) incentives based upon longevity. Both of these tactics will help you retain your engineering talent and reduce operational interruptions.
The Lure of Independence
In addition to better offers, many IT professionals are now feeling the lure of independence, as becoming an independent contractor is easier than ever. In the IT industry, most contractors don't have to do any networking or advertising; the work simply comes to them. Though not everyone is suited toward an independent work environment, most IT professionals are; there is already a lone wolf mentality prevalent in the field. Independence offers extraordinarily flexibility and can seduce many employees.
Google combats this by offering their engineers dedicated time to pursue their own projects. Could you implement something similar in your organization? Keep in mind that often the best innovations come from your internal team thinking about what could be.
Recruiters are Able to Connect and Convince
Social recruiting has made it easier than ever for recruiters to connect with employees. Recruiters will invest significant amounts of time into learning about your employees via their social and professional profiles so they can better attract them. These recruiters are often empowered with the ability to offer your employees practically anything in order to entice them into accepting a new position.
When we hire someone, we sell them on the idea of bringing their skill set to work for us. Yet, often we believe that’s the end of the selling period. You made the hire, and now your new employee is stuck. Clearly, they are not stuck. Management’s job is to continue to sell the benefits of employment with your organization. Regular check-ins, praise, flexibility– practices like these will make your employees think twice about another offer.
Employees are Able to Grow Without the Company
Employee loyalty has often been based on the company's investment within the employee's growth. Organizations would invest in employee skills and experience, sending them to seminars and conferences to enhance their development. Today, most IT employees are able to learn on their own. They have their own IT systems at home and are primarily self-taught. There isn't the association of loyalty that existed in the past; employees can grow on their own and can thus feel they’ve outgrown their position.
Even with these tips, it’s only a matter of time until at least some of your resources leave your organization for seemingly greener pastures. You need to develop thoughts around how you'll survive their departure. One of the best ways to reduce impact cause by churn is to create a culture of knowledge within your company. Start by shifting from relying on individuals and toward relying on shared knowledge. This will reduce the negative impact of employee churn to your organization.