3 unexpected ways to retain tech talent

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Courtesy of Antea Group - USA

Talent and knowledge of technology are hot commodities these days as the number of tech sector jobs has increased exponentially, according to the Pew Research Center. Its 2014 study looked at the number of tech positions from 1997 to present, and not only have the number of new occupations and titles grown, but so too have the number of people within the industry. For instance, in 1997 there were an estimated 2.2 million jobs within the tech industry, and in 2012 - the latest year statistics were collected - tech jobs numbered approximately 4 million.

Another effect of the expansion of jobs has been the creation of new fields, some of which are highly specialized. As such, retaining top tech talent is one of the most difficult challenges facing companies, particularly as rival companies poach workers. Talented and qualified workers are in short supply, and the challenge becomes even tougher when you factor in a younger workforce. According to a study from RecruitFi, 86 percent of millennials don't think twice about job hopping - for employers, this turnover can cost valuable hours that have to be put toward new employee training at the expense of other business priorities.

Some businesses have traditional HR strategies in place to retain their talent pool, but there are also unique, more meaningful ways companies can keep valuable workers from leaving, create a stronger workforce and build a more sustainable business.

1. Craft a meaningful sustainability plan
The development and implementation of a sustainability plan needs to be at the top of every company's to-do list, if it isn't already. And having a meaningful sustainability plan is especially important to the millennial generation of workers entering the workforce in large numbers. Millennials, defined as those ages 18 to 35, are now the largest living generation in the U.S., according to another study from Pew. When it comes to tech jobs, workers tend to be younger than the average working age of 41.9 years old.

Younger workers likely have different mindsets and beliefs than older workers, namely a strong belief in environmental sustainability initiatives. In an interview with Dice, Steve Caballero, a partner at U.S. Alliance Partners, said tech companies must take environmental occurrences into account in addition to making a profit.

'Making a profit at the expense of the planet, the community, and your people does not cut it anymore,' added Caballero.

A recent study from Antea Group revealed 52 percent of employees care about the environmental impact a company has. If employees don't feel their workplace aligns with the larger global initiatives around them, they'll feel less engaged with their company.

Due to the high demand of tech workers, if an employee feels his or her personal beliefs don't match with the company's, it will be easier for them to leave when the next opportunity comes along.

2. Encourage employee engagement and a culture of learning
Rich Milgram, CEO for beyond.com, wrote in the Dallas Business Journal that young workers don't come to work to simply collect a paycheck. Employees instead actively seek out learning opportunities to further their tech knowledge and careers. As such, companies have to create a culture of learning.

One way to accomplish this is to provide growth opportunities as outputs of your corporate sustainability plan, to further deepen employee engagement. Workers who are interested or experienced in green technologies or analyzing product life cycles could be given those tasks. Senior management can ask for help with planning and implementation, or with brainstorming potential issues and solutions. This way, employees are doing the work they enjoy while also expanding their knowledge base and feeling empowered.

By encouraging independence, companies are creating opportunities for employees to contribute meaningfully to sustainability initiatives. Allowing tech-minded employees to spearhead these types of projects contributes to their overall workplace satisfaction and establishes a culture of independent thought leadership that benefits everyone in the company.

Don't be afraid to instill a culture of learning within your organization - new ideas can lead to unexpected growth opportunities and a higher likelihood of employee retention.

3. Include workers in important EHS decisions
Employees will feel more valued if they're included in important EHS decisions. These discussions can center around things like data center safety, energy efficiency, health and safety audits, flexible workstations or emergency response plans. Tech professionals have an intricate knowledge of back-office software and on-site hardware and conditions that executives may not be aware of, so incorporating those with this type of expertise into larger company-wide discussions is a smart move all around.

Not only will your business be making informed and productive executive decisions, but workers will feel valued. According to Rich Hein, senior managing editor for CIO, companies can retain talent by recognizing good workers. If an employee sees his or her idea implemented or incorporated into a new EHS initiative, they'll feel an increased sense of loyalty to the organization.

Today's workplace is a competitive one, particularly in the technology sector. Businesses must be proactive and come up with solutions to retain valued talent. Some unexpected ways to do so can include developing a sustainability plan, instilling a culture of continuous learning and including workers in meaningful decisions. Companies that can retain top talent will benefit from worker continuity and will save time and money by not having to constantly seek out and train new hires, thus giving them an important advantage over their competitors.

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