March 25, 2016

How to Combat the IT Turnover Plague


The average tenure of an IT employee is only three years, according to recent data from PayScale. In September 2015, James Kenigsberg, CTO of 2U, spoke with Fortune about why IT workers leave their jobs. In addition to monotony, many of Kenigsberg’s employees cited a disconnection from the company’s larger purpose as a major reason why they left past jobs.

Since the IT department runs automation, internal servers and data centers – right on down to employee phones and workstations – happy IT employees can mean increased success and longevity for the company as a whole.

Some studies indicate that the total cost of replacing an employee can be up to 16 percent of the employee’s salary; when it comes to the high salaries of IT administrators, this is no small sum. Luckily, there are a few things businesses can do to help retain IT employees and keep them happy.

1. Offer More Certification and Training

As technology changes, so do IT employees. It’s said that an employee’s knowledge base will decrease and become irrelevant in three years or less, so it’s important to keep teams up to speed with the most recent certifications available that are relevant to specific business needs. Set clear expectations for training practices and revisit those expectations each quarter. Ensure that your training includes visual and written elements, like live in-studio webinars and educational literature on specific topics, so that each learning style is addressed.

Poorly trained employees are more likely to receive complaints and have a harder time following standard operating procedures. As a result, they’re less content with their jobs and may ultimately decide to seek jobs elsewhere.

2. Provide Competitive Pay and Benefits

Another all-too-common reason for high turnover is a lack of appropriate benefits. In recent years, companies like Amazon and Google have made media waves with their employee satisfaction initiatives – or lack thereof. Google provides napping pods, free snack bars, and more, while Amazon’s ratings indicate that employees have a hard time managing their work-life balances.

BuildingMonitor employee pay and weigh the IT department salaries to ensure fair benefits and compensation. Consider allowing sales teams to work at home or from remote locations during certain periods. Not only will this increase the company’s potential talent pool for recruitment, but Stanford University reports that remote workers are more productive, work longer hours, and quit their jobs less often than those who commute to the office. Remote workers can save their employers an average of $2,000-7,000 per employee, and that’s certainly an added benefit!

Quarterly employee surveys can uncover the unspoken desires of the IT team or needs that aren’t being met. Deliver surveys with an optional request to complete, and really try to implement some of the suggestions employees offer in the surveys. In order to reduce IT turnover rates, business owners must acknowledge the value that these workers bring to the table and better reflect that in their salaries and benefits.

3. Encourage Employees and Give Feedback

Finally, IT admin employees often feel a sense of disconnect from their supervisors and management teams. As a result, they lack engagement in their daily work and grow disinterested, which eventually leads them to seek other employment opportunities.

Business owners can avoid this problem by going out of their way to provide feedback and encouragement to IT teams. Too often, IT teams are left on the sidelines and forgotten about. Don’t discount the value in requesting employee feedback on processes and operations that IT admins handle on a regular basis. Employ a strategy to guide feedback on what staff members should keep, stop, and start doing in order to craft a measurable list of action items. A little bit goes a long way in this regard, after all.

Businesses that can leverage training, incentives, and competitive pay with benefits will find that employees remain on board much longer. Dealing with the effects of high turnover in an IT department can be a struggle. The good news is that, by implementing some or all of these tips, you can combat high turnover rates and ensure a greater level of satisfaction from your hardest-working employees.

Read more in Retention

Barry Pruett, vice president of professional technology strategy at Wiley, has more than 26 years of publishing and content development experience. He is responsible for the Professional Technology business for Wiley, which includes key technology brands, including Sybex and Wrox, and renowned authors. Currently, Barry is leading his team in transformation from print to digital solutions within the technology market, which includes a partnership with IT training platform ITPro.TV.

Barry holds a bachelor’s degree from Indiana University in visual communications. He lives in Indianapolis with his wife and has two children. In his free time, Barry is active in numerous sports and is an avid photographer.