Let's face it - a good salary is an important element in retaining your employees. However, if you play out the measures presented here skilfully, this will move more and more into the background. How often have we heard it from acquaintances and friends: "The salary is okay, but the people / the working atmosphere / my freedom is what I really value about my job."
Quality of life is increasingly shifting into the foreground. Especially among Gen Z, who, alongside millenials, are increasingly represented in the information technology professions. The pandemic has shown many people what really matters in life for most. And our work takes up a large part of that, so what good is a high salary if you have to force yourself to work or are happy when a day is over again? This is where the topic of New Work increasingly comes to the fore and people take centre stage.
In this article, we'll show you 10 aspects that go beyond salary to ensure strong retention of your IT-employees. These are:
- Corporate Culture
- Modern Onboarding
- Development and Career Opportunities
- Flexible Working Models
- Employee Wellbeing, Health & Leisure
- Work environment and Organisation
- Intelligent Talent Management
- Employee Benefits
- Positive Work Environment
- Employee Satisfaction and Feedback Culture
We cannot repeat it often enough: The foundation for strong employee engagement lies in a well-defined and positive corporate culture. And that is what is also increasingly in demand in IT. "Nine out of ten developers consider a good relationship with colleagues and employees to be important or very important - almost on a par with salary," shows a study by the market research agency mindtake. One reason for this is that IT departments are largely made up of Millenials and Generation Z. And these (younger) people attach great importance to a good working relationship. And these (younger) people place more value on a good working relationship compared to older generations. Here, it is the shared ethos, values and practices that shape a company and influence employee behaviour.
A company that cultivates a healthy corporate culture fosters a sense of belonging among its employees, which leads to higher job satisfaction, greater engagement, higher employee retention and ultimately higher customer satisfaction. The last point is often forgotten. That is, it affects not only productivity, but also the quality of products and services. When employees feel connected to the company's core values and goals, it gives them a sense of purpose and motivates them to contribute to the overall success of the company.
When companies focus on building a strong corporate culture, they can better retain their employees. And this is not where it stops. Companies need to regularly assess and improve their culture to ensure that it is in line with their values and goals. This includes, among other things, a culture of feedback, which we discuss in the last point. All the other points we list in this article also contribute to corporate culture - because it is the social cement and sealant that holds a company together. Or on which a company breaks down.
Contemporary onboarding is central to the successful retention of employees. Our colleagues at alphacoders have just written a comprehensive article on "Onboarding 2.0" of developers. IT professionals are analytical and want to automate and optimise processes. Onboarding is one such process where you as a company can score points directly! A well-structured onboarding process not only introduces new employees to their tasks, but also familiarises them with the company's culture and values right from the start. This creates a sense of inclusion right from the start. And the benefits of successful inclusion (which goes beyond diversity) are numerous!
It sets the tone for employees' experience in the company and can have a significant impact on their engagement, productivity and retention. Structured onboarding goes beyond administrative tasks and orientation; it involves using technology to train, setting clear expectations and providing ongoing support to ensure new employees feel welcomed, valued and prepared for their new role. When companies invest time and resources in a comprehensive onboarding programme, they can leave a lasting positive impression and directly improve their employee retention strategy. Moreover, such an approach spreads the word and increases employer branding – a guarantee for attracting top talent.
Development and Career Opportunities
Offering opportunities for promotion and development is another effective tool for retaining employees and sends a positive signal to them. This applies to all professions. Most employees, especially those of the younger generations, want to expand their skills, take on new challenges and move up in their careers. Through regular training, coaching, educational opportunities and clear career paths, companies can show that they are committed to the personal and professional growth of their employees. Ensuring that employees see a future in your company and feel supported along the way plays a crucial role in maintaining their loyalty and motivation.
Flexible Working Arrangements
The pandemic has underlined the value of flexible working models. However, many companies are currently trying to row back. A prominent representative of the "back to work" camp is Elon Musk. On the other side are people like the CEO of the Australian company Atlassian, who only comes into the office every few months and equally allows his employees to do so. After all, most IT professions make it possible to work regardless of location. We have already dealt intensively with the topic in our two recently published articles "Remote Work 2023 - Pros and Cons in the Modern Workplace" and "From Distance to Unity: How Remote Work Works Successfully".
With remote work technology now readily and globally available and the recent pandemic proving its feasibility on a large scale, workers expect more flexibility in their working hours and locations. This may include remote work, flexible work start and end times or a shortened work week. The 4-day week is also currently being discussed in Germany and is already a reality in some companies. Flexibility not only promotes work-life balance, but also respects individual working styles and personal circumstances. Recognising that not all employees are most productive within the traditional 9-to-5 work schedule can significantly increase job satisfaction and lead to higher retention rates. In addition, this flexibility instils confidence and autonomy, which further increases employee retention. So in today's corporate landscape, flexibility is no longer just a gimmick, but is becoming the standard and expectation of a modern workplace. In IT in particular, flexible working models are in demand, which we address again below under the item "Employee Benefits".
Employee Wellbeing, Health & Leisure
Employee wellbeing, i.e. the health and leisure time activities of employees, is another aspect of high employee retention that should not be sneezed at. Millenials and Gen Z are also increasingly paying attention to this, especially in information technology. Companies that take a serious look at the holistic wellbeing of their employees - their physical, mental and emotional health - increase the likelihood of building a deeper bond with their employees. Flexible working hours that allow for personal interests, health and wellness offerings, regular breaks and a culture that values leisure and time off are all effective ways of showing employees that they are valued beyond their work performance.
In addition, creating a workplace that actively supports mental health, for example by offering counselling services or mental health days, can significantly improve job satisfaction and morale. When employees feel that they are cared for and supported in their well-being, this can lead to increased employee engagement, lower turnover and ultimately better employee retention. It also fosters a positive company culture of empathy, respect and care, which further strengthens the bond between your employees and your company.
Working Environment and Organisation
Creating an engaging and supportive work environment also has a positive impact on employee retention. An organised workspace that facilitates efficient workflows and encourages collaboration can significantly increase productivity and job satisfaction. This is what appeals to IT professionals in their need to optimise and automate processes. Combined with a solid corporate culture, a supportive workspace can create an enticing atmosphere that keeps employees loyal to your company. From ergonomically designed workspaces that prioritise employees' physical comfort and health to technological resources that enable seamless communication and collaboration, every aspect of the work environment plays a role in the employee experience. Providing our employees with the resources and conditions they need to perform at their best demonstrates that we value their efforts and contributes to their overall job satisfaction.
Talent management is a less considered key component of an effective employee retention strategy of IT talents. It is about identifying, nurturing and developing the skills and talents of your employees on an individual basis. It is about recognising the unique skills of your employees and providing opportunities for them to use and develop these talents. This commitment to personal and professional development not only boosts employee morale, but also enriches the pool of skills available to your organisation.
It also reinforces the message that the company values its employees for their individual strengths and potential, and creates a sense of appreciation and belonging that strengthens retention. Just as a supportive work environment helps employees in their daily tasks, active talent management supports them in their career path within the company and plays a crucial role in retaining employees. In times of IT skills shortages, it is also often the best way to build up missing expertise.
Providing a comprehensive and competitive benefits package is another key factor in retaining employees. For IT professionals, remote work and flexible working models are at the top of the list (see Fig. 1). Beyond base salary, benefits such as company stock, retirement plans, paid time off and performance bonuses can be critical to employees' decision to stay with a company. These benefits signal to employees that the company cares about their well-being and future, fostering a sense of security and loyalty. In addition, unique and personalised benefits can make employees feel valued as individuals (similar to talent management) and part of the company culture. This can include everything from the opportunities mentioned in paragraph 5 to mobility offers, childcare, company pension schemes or the like.
As described at the outset, cultivating a positive corporate culture is the monumental step on the road to successfully retaining (and attracting) talent. A positive work environment that emphasises respect, collaboration and open communication is a strong incentive for employees to stay with a company. Your employees need to feel that they can contribute their ideas without fear of criticism and that their efforts and achievements are recognised and valued. This feeling of mutual respect and appreciation not only increases employees' job satisfaction, but also their emotional attachment to the company.
In addition, a positive company culture that prioritises job satisfaction can significantly reduce stress and burnout, leading to a higher quality of employee wellbeing. Similar to a solid benefits package, a positive work environment becomes an intangible benefit that promotes employee loyalty and long-term retention. In addition, such a positive environment lays the foundation for creative excellence - especially software developers and architects can fully develop their creativity here.
Employee Satisfaction and Feedback Culture
Building on the existing positive atmosphere, fostering a culture of employee satisfaction and regular feedback is a critical element in maintaining a high retention rate of employees. Such a culture promotes open dialogue and ensures that employees feel heard and that their opinions are valued, which encourages them to stay connected to the company. Regular employee surveys and face-to-face meetings with management can be part of an effective feedback system. Feedback is fundamental to information technology - it would be confusing and practically "illogical" in the eyes of your IT staff if it was not used extensively across the organisation.
This constant exchange of feedback allows for adjustments and improvements that directly address workers' needs and concerns. More importantly, it allows the company to understand and respond to what drives employee satisfaction in order to create a work environment that is tailored to their needs, similar to the smart talent management approach. Again, when your IT employees see the company making tangible changes based on their feedback, they feel valued and an integral part of the company's success, strengthening their commitment and loyalty to the company. In this way, an active feedback culture serves as an important tool to increase employee satisfaction and consequently retention.