Improve staff retention in IT: Why your team is leaving and what to do about It
May 2, 2024
min read

Improve staff retention in IT: Why your team is leaving and what to do about It

Eli McGarvie
Eli McGarvie

The Great Resignation, the tech layoffs... it's been a wild ride for anyone trying to keep a talented IT team together the last few years. And let's be honest, IT turnover isn't just annoying; it's EXPENSIVE. Lost knowledge, productivity dips, plus the time and money to find replacements? Ugh.

The good news is, there ARE things you can do to turn things around. But first, you need to understand WHY your IT folks are eyeing those exit signs. That's what we're going to dig into here. Think of this post as your survival guide for keeping your best tech talent happy AND hitting those big company goals.

Let's get into it.

What is Employee Retention?

A modern tech office with groups of people working at desks

Think of employee retention as your IT team's loyalty score. The higher it is, the less likely they will jump ship for a competitor. And in the wild world of tech, that loyalty is worth its weight in gold.

Why does this matter so much? Because every time an IT pro walks, you lose:

  • Money, Straight Up: Finding and onboarding a replacement is NOT cheap. The average cost-to-hire in tech is around $4,700, with training and onboarding costing up to $10,000 per employee.
  • Brain Power: They take their hard-earned knowledge with them, leaving your team scrambling to catch up.
  • Team Mojo: New hires disrupt that flow state your best teams get into – that's when cool stuff gets built!

Flip side when you keep your IT talent happy...

  • Your Products Get Better: Teams who know the systems inside and out can work faster and smarter. You've got a tribe that sticks together and makes things happen.
  • Customers are Happier: Who likes calling tech support and getting someone who has no clue? Exactly.
  • Your Whole Company Wins: Strong IT makes EVERY department's life easier.

Employee retention isn't some HR buzzword, it's how you build a tech company that can actually execute on all those big ideas.

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The Cost of Low Employee Retention

A man looking for money in an empty wallet

As above, and this probably is no newsflash since you're reading this, tech turnover is expensive. Some stats say it can cost anywhere between 30% and 300% of an employee's salary to replace them. Ouch! Let's break down where that money's going:

  • The Job Board Black Hole: Every time you post a new IT opening, that's cash out the door. And with competition fierce, those ads aren't cheap.
  • Training on Repeat: Getting a new hire up to speed takes time and resources. High turnover means you're doing this constantly, not building that deep knowledge base.
  • The Ghost of Productivity Past: New employees, even talented ones, take a while to get in the groove. That means delays and missed deadlines. It's not exactly a selling point for clients.

But it's not just about the money (though that part stings!). High turnover also hurts your company in the long run:

  • Brain Drain = Bad News: When seasoned IT pros leave, they take problem-solving skills and system knowledge, which no manual can replace.
  • Teamwork Makes the Dream Work (Unless You Don't Have a Team): Every new hire disrupts workflow, especially on complex tech projects.
  • Would YOU Work Here? Word gets around when a company can't keep its people. Makes attracting new talent even harder.

Stop thinking of turnover as inevitable. Every time someone leaves, it's a sign that something in YOUR system needs fixing. 

And with about 40% of the global workforce looking to leave their current place of work, this is not something you want to brush under the carpet and hope for the best. 

A McKinsey study of 16,000 people found that this number is around one-third in Europe - about 33% of people looking to leave their jobs in the next three to six months.

The clock is ticking.

Key Strategies for Improving Employee Retention

A group of happy employees jumping in the air, freeze-framed, for joy

Okay, let's get into the good stuff – how to ACTUALLY make your IT team want to stick around. Here's where to focus your efforts:

Pay Them What They're Worth

Yes, salary matters. A lot. Do your research. What similar companies are paying for similar roles? Don't get caught lowballing, especially in a hot market. Bonuses, stock options, those are all part of the package too, especially for senior-level hires.

As a rule of thumb, you're looking at European figures (per year) like;

  • Head of IT: €110,000 - €140,000
  • Software developer: €60,000 - €95,000
  • Data engineer: €60,000 - €90,000

Flexibility is the Future

If the pandemic taught us anything, tech work can happen from ANYWHERE. Remote options, flexible hours...these are major perks now, so ditch the old-school 9-to-5 mentality if you want to stay competitive.

Stats back this up, with one Microsoft study showcasing that 41% of people who want to leave their jobs do so because of "the inflexible, location-centred approach" their workplace is forcing them to adopt.

This is a world where remote working, work-from-home programs, and international hiring schemes are taking over and showing huge benefits and successes that are constantly being broadcast to the world.

Culture Isn't Just Foosball Tables

A group of happy employees sitting around a table eating pizza

Okay, foosball is fun, but real culture is about:

  • Let Them Build Cool Stuff: If your IT team is just fixing bugs, they'll get bored. Carve out time for innovation.
  • Shoutouts Matter: When an IT person saves the day, don't just send an email. Make their wins known company-wide.
  • Growth is Key: No one wants a dead-end job. Offer training, mentorship, and clear paths for advancement. Most younger people (millennials) leave their jobs because they feel stagnant and have no room or opportunity for growth.

The benefits of a positive workplace culture are also clear, leading to averages of a 30% increase in customer satisfaction rates and 4x revenue growth, and again backed by 78% of CEOs claim that culture is one of the top-five factors influencing workplace and company-wide productivity.

Managers Make or Break It

There's no such thing as a bad job, only bad management, as the saying goes, and this is rampant in tech. A bad manager can make even the coolest job miserable.

Train your managers to actually LEAD, not just assign tasks. This means regular check-ins, giving real-time feedback, and empowering their teams to make their own decisions (within reason, of course!).

Hiring Right = Less Turnover Later

Don't just hire to fill a seat. Look for people who'll fit your team's vibe, who are excited about your mission, and who have the skills to grow along with the company.

Onboarding Isn't Optional

That first week sets the tone. Have a plan for who your new hire meets, what they learn... don't just throw them in the deep end! Buddy systems are awesome for helping them get the lay of the land.

Improving retention isn't magic. It takes work, but the payoff is HUGE. A happy, stable IT team is the backbone of any successful tech company.


The tech world moves fast, but that doesn't mean your best people must leave with it. By focusing on the factors that IT pros actually care about – fair pay, flexibility, and the chance to do meaningful work – you create a workplace they don't want to leave.

Think of it this way: high turnover is a symptom of a bigger problem. Maybe your comp package is lagging, maybe your managers need more support, or maybe your culture has become a little stale. The good news is all these things are fixable!

The Challenge

Don't wait for your next exit interview to tell you what's wrong. Take a hard look at these key areas:

  • Are you paying competitively? Do your research, be honest with yourself.
  • When's the last time you innovated on a work style? Rigid = Unattractive in today's market.
  • Does your culture reflect the kind of place YOU'd want to work? Be honest!

Your IT team isn't just a headcount; they're the engine that powers your whole company. Invest in them, and watch the return on that investment skyrocket.

Ready to Find Your Dream IT Team?

We Are Developers can help. As Europe's #1 developer community, we connect you with top-tier tech talent – passionate, skilled, and ready to commit to companies that value them. Get started with us today!


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