4 tips for retaining top tech and IT talent

Vaco - Retaining top tech talent (1)

Recently, Vaco’s Nashville office held a roundtable discussion featuring established technology professionals in Music City. Hosted by Taylor Desseyn, the open-forum discussion shed light on several important hiring/recruiting topics in the tech space.


As the COVID-19 pandemic continues for a third straight year, businesses across the country are still dealing with the fallout of “The Great Resignation,” a historic surge in employee resignations across many different industries. 

From January to November 2021, an average of 3.9 million American workers were voluntarily quitting their jobs each month. If that weren’t enough, 43% of employees are somewhat or extremely likely to consider changing jobs in the coming year—that’s according to Microsoft’s 2022 Work Trend Index, a study of 31,000 people in 31 countries, along with an analysis of productivity and labor trends across Microsoft 365 and LinkedIn. 

The tech industry is anything but isolated from these trends. According to a recent survey of 1,200 U.S. employees who work in various IT departments and roles, 70% said they are considering leaving their jobs in 2022. The top reasons given were limited career progression (41%) and lack of flexibility in working hours (40%). This, coupled with the fact that the IT job market is the hottest it has been in decades, has employers in the tech sector scrambling to figure out how to retain their talent.

This was one of the many important topics covered during a recent Vaco Nashville roundtable, where a panel of experienced IT leaders shared their insights and experiences about current hiring trends in the tech industry.

Here is some of the advice they gave to companies that want to retain their top tech and IT talent. 

1. Transform training and development

Since limited career progression is often cited as one of the main reasons for employee turnover, companies need to ensure their employees have the tools they need to succeed—not only in their current positions, but also in potential roles they may take on in the future.

One of the panelists said this process starts during the job interview:

“How do people learn new things? What are some things employees in your industry are learning right now? What are the skills an employee needs that will not only make them better, but will make your team and your company better? You have to find all this out in the interview and work toward understanding what each individual on your team needs to succeed.”   

He also said in his experience, the state of training and development in IT has been “one size fits all.” However, if companies want to keep their IT staff engaged enough not to jump at other opportunities, training and development programs have to be tailored to serve each individual’s needs and goals.

2. Ensure retention is an organizational goal 

The individual leaders of a company have a lot of responsibility when it comes to ensuring their employees’ needs are met, and that they are engaged, fulfilled, and productive.

But, as one panelist said, employee retention initiatives will fail if they don’t have the support of the entire company.

“As a leader, I could be doing all the things that I think are right for my employees and still lose good talent because of things like salary expectations or lack of resources. I can only do so much as an individual, and if employee retention isn’t one of the top priorities of the company as a whole, then it makes it that much harder for me to make my team happy.”

TECH ROUNDTABLE PANELIST

3. Pay what the market dictates

While it’s crucial for companies to base training and development programs on individual workers, and ensure employee retention efforts are an enterprise-wide priority, employee retention will be an uphill battle without paying salaries that compare favorably to current market trends. 

Plus, with ongoing cost-of-living increases and rising inflation, companies need to be prepared for candidates to continue to come to the table with higher salary expectations

One panelist noted that the number of companies moving away from Silicon Valley has also had a huge impact on salary expectations in the tech sector. Companies like Uber, Oracle, Airbnb and Salesforce are moving operations away from the West Coast to cities like Nashville, Austin and Houston, but are bringing Silicon Valley-esque salaries with them. 

4. Investing in employees goes beyond salary

However, according to one panelist, investing in employees goes beyond just paying a salary. She said if companies aren’t able to pay for an engineer with tons of experience, then they have to accept engineers with less experience and be willing to invest in building them up through training programs, advancement opportunities, etc. 

“Companies have to figure out how to go to work for their employees, and not the other way around. When you have a team of people who know they are being invested in, then they can invest in each other and help each other. That’s how you build cohesion, which is an important factor in employee retention.” 

TECH ROUNDTABLE PANELIST

She also said maintaining a healthy work/life balance, offering flexible remote work options, and emphasizing the company’s commitment to social responsibility and service to the community are great ways to invest in employees. 

Employee retention is one of the most important issues companies are facing right now.

That’s why Vaco is with you all the way during this red-hot tech hiring market. Our teams can help create a successful employee retention strategy, including sharing market trends and providing current salary expectations, so that you can keep your top IT talent engaged and energized. 

For more insight from Vaco Nashville’s tech roundtable, check out this blog post on how to improve remote work in the tech sector and the keys to promoting diversity, equity and inclusion in tech.

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