In the IT field, where frequent employee turnover seems standard, managers often wonder why there is so little employee loyalty. In a recent article, an expert in IT recruiting and hiring outlines several incentives that employers can use to minimize turnover among valuable IT staff members. This article suggests that beyond pay, career development opportunities, use of new technologies, and leadership with vision and direction are vital in retaining staff. However, according to a current TechRepublic discussion, another key factor in retaining IT employees is developing a reciprocal, respectful relationship between workers and upper management.

The dreaded “at will” clause
Many TechRepublic members feel that even before an employee officially starts the job, the relationship is doomed with an “at will” agreement. An “at will” agreement is a clause that a new hire signs allowing the company to terminate the individual’s employment at any time. TechRepublic member blackbelt believes that “at will” clauses are particularly damaging to relationships between personnel and management:
“It cracks me up every time I come in for an interview and they take out the ‘at will’ form and expect me to sign it without a flinch. Do they expect loyalty from you after they’ve just said, ‘We have the right, as your employer, to toss you out the door for no reason’?”

According to member Wayne Mack of PEC Solutions, Inc.:
“If you truly want employees to commit for life, then make the same commitment to them and provide a ‘no layoff’ clause in your employment contracts.

“Is it any wonder that if the company only makes short term commitments to its employees, then the employees in return will only make short term commitments”?
So what’s the key to keeping people around? We’re interested in hearing your success stories or your staffing woes. Join the discussion and share your thoughts on employee retention.
Try respect
Several members who took part in this discussion argued that money is not a key factor in retaining personnel. Acknowledging an employee for his or her contributions can mean a lot to the employee. Tim Mitchell, a project manager with Cap Gemini Ernst & Young in Chicago, writes:
“I believe that a person needs to feel that they are contributing to the business and be recognized for it.

“Management must make an ongoing effort to tell their employees how much they help the business—even if it is production support and maintenance.”

Member Paul Murray is an IT manager for a non-profit children’s organization that Murray says pays salaries below the market average. Despite the below-market salaries, Murray enjoys an above-average retention rate.

“I do my best to stress to my workers that their work is important and makes a difference in the lives of the children we serve.

“I also keep them informed of what is happening in the organization and tell them when they do a good job.”

Yet lluhrman recognizes some limitations:
“Loyalty to coworkers and customers won’t keep someone on the job forever. I try to show my employees that they are appreciated and that I will fight for them, but some issues are out of my hands.”

A chance to move up, not onward
According to Strickland, employees should hear praise for their work, but they also need to see a promotion on the horizon. Research cited in our recent article on retention suggests that the current life cycle of an IT employee with an employer is 48 months. If an employee is with an organization for this amount of time, “chances are they haven’t been promoted…,” says Strickland. “Promotions in IT are hard to come by unless you change companies, because once you demonstrate above-average competency in a specific area, your employer pigeonholes you.”

Wayne Mack agrees:

“Few companies provide any sort of long-term career plan for the majority of their employees.”