The voluntary employee turnover among permanent IT workers has increased in the last three years, say Australian chief information officers responding to a Robert Half commissioned survey.
Some 71 per cent of CIOs said the number of IT employees freely resigning was going up, and one in five said the increase has been ‘significant’. Only three per cent of the 160 CIOs questioned stated IT employee churn had decreased.
Of those that noticed the trend, nearly half (46 per cent) blamed it on the fact there were more IT jobs in the market. A Deloitte report last year estimated the number of local IT jobs to rise from from 600,000 in 2014 to 722,000 in 2020.
Other reasons CIOs reported staff were making a move were poor career progression prospects within the company (41 per cent), concern over company performance and fear of redundancies (36 per cent), poor work-life balance (34 per cent), and a desire for more diverse career experiences (32 per cent).
“The technology market is booming, creating an abundance of opportunities for talented IT professionals as companies increasingly adopt new technologies that require specialised skill sets to manage them. In this market, in-demand IT professionals who are ambitious to explore new career opportunities will seek to move elsewhere – simply because they can,” said Robert Half’s Andrew Morris
Around a third (31 per cent) of IT employees leave their organisation within two years, the CIOs reported. Turnover was found to be highest in large organisations (83 per cent), followed by medium (77 per cent) and small-sized organisations (52 per cent).
The average tenure of permanent IT employees is currently 4.6 years.
“Whilst exploring new career opportunities is the prerogative of the individual employee, IT employers can take certain steps to reduce staff turnover by listening and addressing their employees’ concerns before they escalate. Regular salary benchmarking, providing challenging projects and career progression opportunities as well as employee recognition are all effective retention measures,” Morris added.
Learn from churn
Beyond the IT function, a broader Robert Half study found one in seven Australian workers will seek a new job this year, and more than two thirds (67 per cent) of local businesses say they have seen an increase in staff turnover over the past three years.
More than half of managers expect the trend to continue over the next 12 months. Some 21 per cent believe churn will be ‘significantly higher’.
“Staff turnover can cause significant setbacks for a business through not just lost productivity and revenue, but also low staff morale – highlighting companies need to not only secure a steady pipeline of skilled talent, but also make employee retention policies a crucial business priority,” said Robert Half Australia director Andrew Brushfield.
In the face of rising employee turnover, nearly all Australian companies reported having measures to curtail it.
Around half run employee appreciation initiatives, employee wellness programs and training and professional development programs.
Regular salary reviews were carried out by 42 per cent of the 460 hiring managers that took part in the survey, as were flexible and remote working opportunities.
Only 32 per cent ran employee engagement initiatives, and 31 per cent gave regular performance reviews.
“Employees are the backbone of any organisation, so it’s essential for employers to balance their staff engagement policy on both the acquisition and retention of top performing talent. While our research demonstrates that businesses do have strategies is place, increasing turnover rates suggest that these have not been effective in retaining employees,” Brushfield said.
“In such a competitive environment and with employees now preferring more flexible ways of working and being rewarded, it is important that businesses take a close look at their retention strategies to ensure they are suitable and attractive for their specific industry, company culture and team,” he added.
However, a ‘one-size-fits-all’ retention strategy is ineffective, Brushfield said.
“Employees in one business may be motivated to remain there when offered more annual leave entitlements, whereas in another business having a rigorous training program may be more motivating,” he explained.
Join the CIO Australia group on LinkedIn. The group is open to CIOs, IT Directors, COOs, CTOs and senior IT managers.