The shake-up of the past few years has put employers in an awkward position. Though the worst of the pandemic appears to have passed, the effects have been irreparable, particularly for IT workers: the move to remote work, the increase in employer expectations that led to the Great Resignation, and now the oncoming recession.
Although layoffs abound in the tech world, retaining top IT talent is still a top priority for companies as they stare down an unpredictable future. Stormy economic times require all hands on deck across engineering, application development, database management, and IT administration to propel company growth and innovation — without the hindrance of employee turnover, recruiting, training, and underperformance.
In 2021, Gartner found that the top three post-pandemic drivers of an IT employee’s decision to stay at an organization or pursue opportunities elsewhere were: compensation, work-life balance, and respect. This blog will explore how you can address these drivers to reduce labor volatility.
Driver #1: Compensation
Particularly in an economic downturn, compensation is one of the toughest aspects of employee satisfaction to manage. You must consider the costs of increasing salaries or bonuses against the costs of attrition, recruiting, and training. While salary bumps are often worth the investment — especially for positions that require niche and hard-to-find skillsets — there are other ways to “compensate” employees in ways that can be equally valuable:
- Increase paid time off or, better yet, offer unlimited vacation
- Offer flexible schedules outside of the typical 9-5 workday
- Introduce training and development opportunities — particularly ones that could lead to a promotion (and, subsequently, higher pay)
- Recognize and reward achievements
Driver #2: Work-life Balance
The importance of work-life balance is a no-brainer now that most IT employees’ work and home lives have been fused together. The loss of boundaries between home and work location, time, and technology has led to a complete redefinition of what a balanced life looks like.
You can help your team members navigate this still-new territory by addressing some important realities.
- The clash of work and life means your employees are busier than ever as they try to navigate both worlds simultaneously. Offering flexibility catered to individual circumstances will help them feel your have their back.
- There is still a personal aspect to work. Encourage your teams to continue to greet each other, ask about each other’s weekends, and chit-chat over the “water cooler” just like in the good ol’ days.
- Flexibility is a deal-breaker anymore. Offer it in exchange for availability so IT workers know that their personal lives are supported as long as they are available when their team needs them.
- IT teams need updated, efficient digital tools to be productive in a remote work environment. The more they have to wrestle with tech, the more likely they will jump ship for a company operating on the edge of innovation.
- You may not be able to celebrate a hard day’s work by grabbing a beer with your department, but you can still have a Zoom cocktail hour, play online games together, or go for a collective walk from their various locations to build human connectedness.
Driver #3: Respect
Gartner discusses the importance of showing respect to employees by approaching conversations respectfully, defining ground rules for interpersonal disagreements, and communicating openly. Embedding and demonstrating these values within your team will help combat the potential communication struggles that come with remote work and enable your team to feel valued and heard.
Additional tips that can help garner respect amongst your team:
- Praise in public, but criticize in private
- Face conflict head-on and don’t allow it to fester
- Understand team dynamics and styles of working with frameworks like Myers-Briggs and KOLBE
- Set clear goals and objectives and measure progress along the way
- Approach meetings with objectives, KPIs, and agendas to ensure they are worth everyone’s time
- Encourage your team to schedule focus time to address priority projects
While many hope that the recession will be the final stage of this recent string of bad luck, the future is still unknown. Organizations hoping to navigate this uncertainty will need strong, skilled, and resilient talent to lead the way.
To learn more about how to manage and retain that talent, download our eBook, “Managing Remote Workers Through Chaotic Times.”
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