If your company is like most, the tenure of your technical employees seems to be growing shorter year after year. Five years used to be the average recommended length of time for employees to spend in one position or at one company, but now it’s shrunk to a measly 1-3 years depending on whom you ask. With so many opportunities open to them and an increasingly low unemployment rate, it’s more difficult than ever to get your technical team to stay for the long haul. If one of your goals for the New Year is to take steps to lengthen technical employee tenure, try out one or more of these 10 changes.
1. Set Goals Together: Setting arbitrary goals for your technical employees might work and it might not. Letting your employees set their own work goals is a little better, but it’s still not a perfect method. If you want to promote employee growth and longer tenures, the best thing you can do is designate some time to set goals together with your technical employees. Ask them where they’d like to go within the company, what kind of projects they’d like to work on, what kind of technologies they’d like to learn, etc. Then, shape their goals to fit both their wants and your needs. These goals are more enticing, rewarding, and motivating for technical employees and, once you’ve taken an interest in your success, they’ll take more of an interest in the company’s success and be less likely to leave abruptly.
2. Set Rewards Together: When going the extra mile, meeting goals, and delivering exemplary results are met with a lackluster response, your employees may begin to get discouraged. If that discouragement is left to fester, it will certainly result in those valuable employees looking for an opportunity where their contribution is acknowledged, celebrated, and rewarded. Be that kind of company! When you’re setting goals with your technical employees, set enticing rewards to go along with them such as bonuses, charitable contributions in their name, free catered lunch from their favorite restaurant, the chance to work from home for a whole week, etc. The specific reward (and monetary value of the reward) matters less than offering it and following through on it once they’ve followed through on their goal. Additionally, acknowledging team accomplishments with fun rewards will help foster a sense of unity. That unity will lead to your technical employees feeling like they’re a part of something greater, which is a strong motivator to stay in their current position.
3. Increase Transparency: When technical employees feel like they’re left in the dark about the direction of the company, the specifics of project requirements, or the business side of technical projects they can often feel undervalued and insecure. If you want to promote an environment of longer tenures, you need to also increase transparency across the board.
4. Increase Opportunity: Feeling stagnate is often the kiss of death that leads your technical employees searching for a new opportunity. If they aren’t finding opportunities to grow, expand their skill set, learn, and improve at your company they will start looking for it elsewhere. Find ways to increase opportunity for your technical employees and they’ll be more likely to stick around.
5. Promote Continuous Learning: From bringing in an expert to teach a course on the latest technology to offering tuition reimbursement to hosting hackathons, there are a lot of ways you can promote continuous learning. Most technologists are hungry for new technical knowledge and the opportunity to implement that knowledge on the job. But, if they’re stuck spending all of their free time learning, they won’t learn and progress as quickly. That’s why having initiatives in office that promote continuous learning are seen as truly valuable and a reason to stick around!
6. Promote From Within: If your company has room for growth to Lead, Senior, or Management level positions, consider promoting from within. This obviously helps lengthen tenure for the employee or employees you promote because it keeps your technical employees around longer but it also promotes longer tenures across the board because it gives people something to work towards and strive for. Plus, as an added bonus, it makes the hiring process and transition much smoother and easier for your organization.
7. Improve Work-Life Balance: Another key factor that causes technical employees to leave quickly is burnout. So, what is the antidote to burnout? Improving your technical employees’ work-life balance. This can range from simple shifts in policy like flextime or making sure employees only stay late if absolutely necessary, to more ambitious feats like implementing unlimited PTO and transitioning your team to partial or full telecommuting.
8. Implement Employee Ideas: Whether you have a suggestion box or your managers keep an open door to new ideas, employees will stick around longer if they feel they can contribute more value to the company and see those valuable ideas actually implemented. If you’re not tapping into your technical employees ideas, you’re wasting a valuable resource and sending them signals that they’re not really a necessary part of the company.
9. Offer Truly Constructive Criticism: While you may not think that constructive criticism has anything to do with lengthening employee tenure, it really can when handled effectively. No employee wants to be the one pulling all of the weight on a team or working three times as hard because their coworkers are slacking off. Similarly, no employee wants to make the same mistake over and over again because they were never given the proper training and tools to learn how to do it effectively in the first place. Offering truly constructive criticism and effective training to your technical employees will alleviate these headaches that often lead employees to leave your company quickly.
10. Make Room for Exploration: When your technical employees have to meet fast-paced project deadline after fast-paced project deadline with little to no variety in their daily work, monotony and burnout can sink in and leave them wondering if the grass is greener elsewhere. Finding time for and making room for exploration in the every day work life is essential if you want to foster an environment where creative, innovative, inspired technologists want to stick around. Whether you designate Friday mornings so employees can work on side projects or tinker with new technology or you let an employee use a new technical language on a portion of a project to see if it works, making room in their schedules for more technical exploration will certainly lead to longer tenures.
Keep your technical team around a lot longer from this year on by implementing one or more of these 10 valuable changes. Let us know how they work out for your organization!