Practical Tips To Retaining Key Personnel

The competition for retaining highly skilled technicians has always been keen, and it will only grow more intense as technical specialties such as network engineering, Internet security, and website management continue to evolve. Traditional incentives such as salary and vacation time are no longer the only factors that highly sought-after IT professionals consider when considering to stay or leave for new employment opportunities. As this section points out, dozens of other factors that come into play when employers attempt to attract and retain the best of the best.

Once a key candidate has been found, been offered employment, and has accepted, the challenge of staffing now shifts to retaining this person, along with all the other highly talented personnel. IT departments and human resources groups have been struggling with this phenomenon for years. As a result, some creative approaches have been used to stem the tide of turnover and attrition.

Some of these new approaches involve creative compensation such as supplying personnel with free cell phone use, remote Internet access from home, laptop computers, or generous mileage compensation. Recent research suggests that several non-monetary factors often come into play as much as the quantity of pure cash salary. These include the amount of on-the-job training to be provided, the currency of technology used, attendance at conferences and seminars, the meaningfulness and significance of the work being performed, the likelihood of promotions, and the stability of the management staff.

More often than not, skilled technical professionals will change jobs because of some key ingredient missing in the relationship they have with an immediate manager. We have all heard the emphasis on the importance of communication, but it is hard to overstate its significance. Over the years I have come to know several highly skilled IT professionals who left an otherwise excellent job opportunity simply because of poor communication with their managers. Lack of recognition, little career planning, and inability to convey an organization’s vision, direction, and goals are some other common reasons employees give when discussing a poor management relationship.

Once there is an employee benefit survey conducted all across USA and the results of the employee benefit survey were surprising, even to some of the more seasoned human resources representatives. The responses provide some interesting insight as to where employee priorities truly lie. Table 1 shows the results of the survey. The benefits are ranked from most important to least important and the average scores of each. As you can see, salary was not the highest priority benefit, although it was close to the top. Medical care was first.

Table 1 Survey of Traditional Benefits for Employees

Rank Benefit Score

1 Medical coverage 4.76

2 Dental coverage 4.59

3 Base salary 4.53

4 Training in client-server 4.24

5 Vacation 4.24

6 Vision care 4.12

7 Career advancement 4.12

8 Company matching 401K 4.06

9 Training in networking 4.06

10 Sick leave 4.00

11 Proximity to home 3.88

12 Medical leaves 3.71

13 Training in PCs/intranet/Web 3.65

14 Flexible work hours 3.53

15 Flexible work week 3.47

16 Training in operations 3.12

17 Personal leaves 3.12

18 Personal Time Off 3.06

19 Compensation time for overtime 2.65

20 Distance to workplace 2.65

21 Opportunity for overtime pay 2.47

22 Van pools or car pools 2.35

23 Bonuses 2.29

23 Absence of overtime 1.17

Even more surprising was the list of additional benefits that the survey asked employees to propose. As shown in Table 2, the Survey underestimated the creative talents of the staff as they proposed an additional 13 benefits. The suggestions also surprised the human resources representatives who admitted that these types of responses were not what they expected and caused them to re-think some of their recruitment and retention strategies.

Table 2 Additional Employee Benefits Proposed by Employees

Rank Benefit Score

1 Long-term disability 6

2 Life insurance 5

3 Floating or additional holidays 4

4 Bereavement leave 4

5 Direct deposit of paycheck 4

6 Pension plans 3

7 Attendance at conferences 3

8 Education reimbursement 3

9 Early retirement 2

10 Quality management 2

11 High degree of teamwork 1

12 Respect for all ideas and abilities 1

13 Training in mainframes 1

The main lesson learned here is that key employees may have totally different reasons for staying with or leaving a particular company. The only certainty in this very un-precise science is that until you ask, you likely never know. Finding out too late is an unnecessary mistake that effective managers try to avoid. I have yet to meet the employee who becomes upset when a manager asks him or her what would it take to get them to stay.

So the thing for an effective retention of the Potenital and key Employee is "GO AND ASK WHAT THEY WANT BEFORE THEY COME AND ASK WHAT THEY WANT" 


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