As global attrition rates in the tech sector reach upwards of 20 per cent, the chief concern across businesses and amongst HR leaders is employee retention and engagement. While the industry is used to near double-digit attrition levels, the post-COVID attrition levels are hitting the roof, leaving little room for effective management. Weathering this attrition tsunami requires greater sustainability and business growth.
What can tech leaders do differently to handle attrition?
1. Analyse and find the devil in the details
The reasons for employees to leave post COVID are very different from the ones known before.
Some employees want to shift to tier-2 cities to be closer to their hometown/extended family, and they prefer a lower cost of living. Others wish to leave because of a surge of opportunities, COVID fatigue, need for change, lack of travel, and the inability to balance work and home and so on.
Analysing the top three reasons why employees are leaving the company, finding out how one can control them and taking focused efforts towards the same can help one enjoy better results in three quarters.
2. Dusting outdated policies
Our HR policies were written for a pre-COVID world and may not hold true for the post-COVID one. This is the right time to relook at those policies, drop the ones that are irrelevant, such as half day leave cut for not logging on time, and introduce new ones that are suited to the times, such as ‘no meeting’ Fridays.
3. Re-imagining talent acquisition
We are at a point in history where tech companies no longer need to be confined to geographies for talent acquisition. The world is the limit. Explore how to hire differently to sustain the talent pool. Not all people get motivated by high salaries, a corner office or a leased car. Some may prefer flexibility of schedules over a beach resort and so on. Enlarging the vision to adopt the ‘hire from anywhere’ (HFA) model will help.
4. Talent engagement
There are several things that one can do to engage existing talent:
· Listen to the voice of the employee: Since most tech workers are now remote, HR practices such as climate surveys, walk the floor, townhalls and so on are not enough to know the pulse of the employees. Better and more frequent activities, such as timely anonymous mood surveys, random surprise calls to check in on employee well-being, and so on can help gauge the morale of employees.
· Plug into informal networks: There are powerful informal networks in organisations. One has to be trustworthy enough to be part of them.
· Care enough: Sometimes, all one needs is to know that someone cares enough. Care can be shown in many appropriate ways and means that are aligned to the culture of the organisation.
· Invest in employees: Be it coaching through credentialed coaches — who can help with employee transformation and growth — or training or employee assistance or mental and physical well-being, invest in employees should be much more now than before.
· Recognition: We live in a world where it is hard to belong. Find ways and means to recognise, timely, the good work of employees so that they feel nice about their contributions.
5. Accept and anticipate
· Know that over 15 per cent of the employees are going to leave anyway. Therefore, one has to ensure that is well backed up for business.
· The trend will continue for a long time. Therefore, proactive hiring efforts need to be stepped up.
· Know that both sides are hanging by a thread of integrity. So, it is important to keep one’s word.
· Make ‘planning for leaving’ a normal part of business so that employees are comfortable giving enough time to prepare replacements.
· Lead with trust. People find it harder to leave leaders that are invested in their growth.
· Send off employees with a good taste in the mouth. Let them be alumni ambassadors for the company.
While it’s hard to be a leader in these times, it’s also an opportunity. Choose to be an employee-retention magnet!
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The author, Priya Venkatesan is a leadership coach, certified at the PCC level by the ICF. She works with business leaders and their teams to achieve organisational and personal outcomes. In her career spanning 21 years, she has worked predominantly in the technology sector, leading 100+teams before becoming a coach.