Five Keys to Retaining Tech Staff

Five keys on distressed wood backdrop

Uber-training company Pluralsight offers some pretty great monthly subscription deals on online training. Their website also offers a variety of blog posts, webinars, guides, and so forth to the public free of charge at The Hub, where all this periodic or topical content appears on a regular basis.


That's where I found a link to a recent guide titled "5 Proven Ways to Motivate and Retain Your Technology Team." Dated Febr. 14, 2017, the material is timely and topical. While it may sound like something your manager would (or at least should) read, you might find it interesting, too.


Among other things, it provides a handy yardstick for measuring one's current employer's adherence to the principals it espouses. It might even help you decide whether or not to jump ship, as you determine how well you current situation sizes up against an ideal set of circumstances.


[Warning! Site registration is required to download the aforelinked Guide: If you follow that link, then you'll have to cough up contact info to view the Guide in PDF form.]


I'll summarize the 5 keys here, but if you want of all the nuances and details you can find in this 12-page document, then you'll need to consult the original source:


Work Environment — How an employer deals with demands for after-hours effort says a lot about a company. Organizations that routinely require long weeks (the Guide mentions "70-80 hour weeks being fairly common" in some situations) are overburdening their staff, and should make plans to add more people and distribute a fairer and more equitable workload.


Above and beyond keeping employee workloads manageable (both for employees and for the company), the Guide also mentions the value of opening up workspace and/or providing individual or small shared offices for IT workers. It also poses a series of interesting questions about how the workplace is run, with an emphasis on emotional and psychological factors such as trust and empowerment. To wit:


? Does your staff feel free to express themselves?
? Do they trust their fellow employees?
? Do you run your department with an iron fist?
? Are you tolerant of bullying, hazing or hatred?
? Does your staff feel they can come to you with issues?
? Do they have autonomy and ownership over their work?


Traning meeting five keys

Education — This snippet from the Guide sets the tone of this discussion and is just what you'd expect from a training company: "Employees must be put to the test in the classroom (or virtual classroom) ... "


Education is touted as a pathway to building skills and knowledge, retaining staff interest and engagement, and future-proofing organizations against the continuing onslaught of new technologies, platforms, tools, and methods that characterizes IT. It's a bit over the top, but it's also hard to find fault with anything said or claimed in this section of the Guide.


Hardware/Software Purchasing Programs — Companies with ongoing vendor relationships can include options for staff members "to purchase hardware, software and other goods through channels they may not have access to outside of work." Simply put, this means discounts for employee for stuff they'll buy anyway.


Vendors mentioned include MS, Adobe, T-Mobile, Verizon Wireless, AT&T Wireless, Sprint, Apple, Dell and Lenovo. The Guide makes the point that "Geeks like their toys" and correctly observes that helping them save on outlays for those toys engenders additional interest and loyalty. Other discount programs mentioned extend to vacations, company cars, telecommuting, titles, company shares, tickets to local teams and events, shortened work weeks, and team lunches.


Extra stuff, extra discounts, and good deals are all apparently pretty good motivators.


Perks of Hard Work — Incentives come in many forms and flavors above and beyond the annual cost-of-living increase offered in many organizations. They can include bonuses, awards, and special payments.


The Guide says that whatever kinds of incentives may be offered, they should be clearly explained, the conditions under which they will be handed out spelled out in excruciating detail, and above all, honored to the letter. This is required to earn and retain employee trust, and to make sure that expectations and reality converge as much as possible.


Recognition — The Guide states baldly (and correctly) that, "People want to be recognized for their achievements." Recognizing success tells everyone that something good has occurred, and lets them know that good things happen to those who achieve success. It's hard to underestimate the value of appreciation and recognition, which is why accolades are so worthwhile to hand out, publicize and celebrate.


Now that you know the five areas on the yardstick that Pluralsight proposes, ask yourself how your current situation measures up against them. Only you can decide when those measures fall short enough to justify considering a change.


I'll bet at least a few readers, however, will find this stuff highly provocative food for thought. Bon app�tit!


Would you like more insight into the history of hacking? Check out Calvin's other articles about historical hackery:
About the Author

Ed Tittel is a 30-plus-year computer industry veteran who's worked as a software developer, technical marketer, consultant, author, and researcher. Author of many books and articles, Ed also writes on certification topics for Tech Target, ComputerWorld and Win10.Guru. Check out his website at, where he also blogs daily on Windows 10 and 11 topics.