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Employers facing big IT talent retention challenge

By Shannon Williams
Fri 11 Mar 2022

IT workers are more inclined to quit their jobs than employees in other functions, with a 10.2% lower intent to stay than non-IT employees — the lowest out of all corporate functions, according to a survey by Gartner.

The analyst firm surveyed 18,000 employees globally in the fourth quarter of 2021, including 1,755 employees in the IT function. Responses were collected monthly across 40 different countries in 15 languages.

“While talent retention is a common C-level concern, CIOs are at the epicenter, with a huge chunk of their workforce at risk,” says Graham Waller, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner. 

“We’ve heard of IT organisations implementing back-to-the-office policies only to face mass resignations and have to reverse course. CIOs may need to advocate for more flexibility in work design than the rest of the enterprise, as IT employees are more likely to leave, in greater demand and more adept at remote working than most other employees," he says.

Globally, only 29.1% of IT workers have high intent to stay with their current employer, but the number is much lower in Asia (19.6%), Australia and New Zealand (23.6%) and Latin America (26.9%). Even in Europe, the best performing region, only four in 10 IT workers (38.8%) have high intent to stay.

The IT talent retention challenge varies by age group and region. For example, IT workers aged under 30 report two and a half times less likelihood to stay than those over 50. Only 19.9% of IT workers who are 18 to 29 have a high likelihood to stay, compared to 48.1% of those aged 50-70 years.

Data shows that more flexible and human-centric work policies can reduce attrition and increase performance. In a 2021 Gartner survey of 3,000 employees across a wide range of industries, functions and geographies, 65% of IT employees said that whether they can work flexibly will impact their decision to stay at the organisation.

Gartner analysts said that CIOs should use a data-driven approach to identify workers who are most at risk and most valuable, and tailor hybrid work policies to keep them engaged and high-performing.

A human-centric work model can improve talent and business outcomes. To achieve it, Gartner advises CIOs to rethink outdated assumptions about work that are unnecessarily limiting, including:

·        Working hours — Progressive enterprises are empowering people and teams to decide when they do their best work and pioneering new schedules such as the four-day week.

·        Office centricity — The pandemic shattered the myth that employees can only get real work done in an office where managers can see them. Most organisations are now planning for a hybrid future that recognises employees can be fully productive remotely for ‘heads-down’ work, while the office is best suited for certain work activities such as human connection and collaboration.      

·        Meetings — The culture of meetings started in the 1950s when people had to come together physically to make decisions. Now, asynchronous and synchronous collaboration tools enable distributed decisioning making, collaboration and creativity.

“CIOs who adopt a human-centric work design will out-hire, out-retain and out-perform those that revert back to industrial-era work paradigms,” says Waller.

The Gartner Global Labour Market Survey is made up of more than 18,000 employees in 40 countries, including 1,755 employees in the IT function in Q421. 

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