May 28, 2015

Should I stay, or should I go? – Employee Retention strategies (part I)

Author: Anda Algafitii

With this article, we’re going to address an issue many tech-companies feel is a bit sensitive: keeping valuable people on-board. There is a lot to consider: What is it that makes people want to stay? What are the potential ‘deal breakers’ behind their decision to change jobs? Is it beneficial to one’s career to make one company a long-term home? And lastly, why should companies invest in retention strategies, with a field as fast-paced as technology? Let’s have a look at this topic, from an IT-software-field point of view.

People crave stability. All people.

Stability is a vital human need. Of course, some people enjoy a bit of excitement with their professional lives, and are thus driven away by repetitive tasks and predictable routines. Still, the best such an employee will hope for is a secure, stable job that provides a variety of challenges on a daily basis. In short, the same job, but not the same work. It’s not the job itself this type of professionals are looking to vary, it’s the tasks they’d most like to add diversity to. Feed them routine, and they’ll eventually become demotivated and start looking for a change. If they don’t feel like they can find a change within your company or, furthermore, don’t even feel like they can talk to someone about what bothers them, they’ll look for that change elsewhere.

Still, other people simply enjoy routine. They find it comforting. They like coming into work every morning knowing exactly what to expect of their day. The unpredictable stresses them, negatively impacting their performance. They hate being rushed, so they like to be able to plan their tasks so that they never have to hurry past them. These people will endure being constantly pushed in different directions for a while, hoping they can eventually get accustomed to the job and thus organize their routine. When this fails to happen and requirements change overnight, they’ll eventually feel exhausted and frustrated and look for predictability someplace else.

What do we take home from this?

Hire the right people, or nothing you’ll do could ever retain them

This means a vital part of the employee retention process is achieved before you actually hire a candidate. Let’s say you’re recruiting for a long-term project, a two-year contract you know will require a lot of un-automatable, repetitive tasks. That means you need to look for that organized, predictability-craving professional who’d be thrilled to know that almost nothing is going to surprise him for the next two years. Instead of becoming bored and restless due to his/her repetitive duties, they’ll keep polishing on that same routine into perfection. They’ll be efficient and feel safe.

If, on the other hand, you want a developer who is going to have to adapt on the go, not knowing in the morning exactly what he might be coding after lunch, our routine-loving friend would be confused, feel unproductive and under constant pressure. Our excitement-oriented professional, however, would be thrilled. He’d never become restless or bored, he’d feel engaged and challenged.

Of course, hiring the right people takes experience. Most candidates will not directly and openly tell you which ‘side’ they’re on – after all, neither would you, if you were them. So the tech-recruiter has to accurately profile a candidate, beyond simply looking over his set of skills, and decide which project they’d be best suited by.

However, even with the best recruiters on your side, hiring the right people is only the beginning. Join us next time, to find out the answer to the rest of our questions, as we dive deeper into this complex topic. Until the second part of my article, I’d love to hear your opinions and thoughts: are you looking for ever-changing requirements, or do you take comfort in predictability? Have you ever found yourself working outside your comfort zone? Share your perspective via comment or email, and visit our careers section if you’re a tech-professional looking for the right match – or stay in touch via Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter or Google+ for a better view of our culture.

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