After months of searching, recruiting, interviewing and interviewing some more you’ve found just the right people for your team. You’ve got the brightest talent and you’re looking forward to tackling some killer projects. You might even get to leave the office before 7pm.
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Not so fast.

Putting together a great team is just the first step in managing a top notch department – keeping those great hires in your department will take some effort. There’s no resting on your laurels in this economy. IT recruits live in a sellers market. Millennials  expect to work for many different companies during their career and have no qualms about leaving you for a better offer.

You’ve spent a lot of your time and resources on finding great talent so don’t lose them now. You may not be able to offer them all the incentives a larger company might but there are many things you can do to keep the best in your department.

Here are 10 tips to retain your IT talent in this challenging economy:

Compensation – Make sure you’re paying your talent market or better. If they aren’t earning enough they’ll be sure to look elsewhere for a better paying position (even if they like where they are now) and will likely find it in this market. Employees rarely let their employers know they’re considering a better paying position so if you notice your talent talking on his phone outside or seems to be out of the office more often (interviewing) you’ve got a problem that needs to be addressed as soon as possible.

Entrance interview – Don’t just have an exit interview, by then it’s too late. When you hire talent find out what their goals are for the position. Ask them what they hope to contribute and then offer them ways to do so.

Freedom – It’s not uncommon for high tech companies to encourage their talent to go out and innovate. Have an open door policy about ideas. Tell your team you want to hear what they have to say. If they have an idea for improvement you want to hear it. Adobe gives its interns cameras and tells them to go out and take pictures. They don’t tell them what to take pictures of and they don’t tell them to use Photoshop. They just want to provide a tool and the freedom to create innovative ideas.

Incentives – You might not have it in the budget to give hefty bonuses but you can certainly provide other incentives. A surprise day off is always welcome. Better yet a gift certificate to a nice restaurant or even a weekend getaway lets your people know you value their efforts.

Develop a Relationship – While you need to remain accountable to the company you are also a human (just like your resource) so ask them how their kids are doing. Ask them if everything is going ok in their job. Share with them some of your war stories. All things being equal an employee will have a hard time leaving a job where he feels appreciated and liked by the boss.

Mentor – Speaking of war stories…share your experience with your team. Be more than just a manager, be a mentor. Help them develop a career path. Ask them where they want to be in ten years and help them get there.

Hire from within – Always hire from within if possible.  If there is an internal employee who could grow into a position give them a chance. They’ll be grateful you believed in them and will prove you right most every time.

Fitness – You might not have an indoor basketball court like some tech companies but you can encourage fitness, which stimulates the mind and reduces stress. Offer a group gym membership if possible or have a walking club before or after work.

Feedback – The importance of feedback can’t be overstated. Give your team feedback and encourage them to offer you honest feedback too. People want to know they are doing the job well and if they aren’t they appreciate knowing what they can do to do the job better. Feedback is probably the most important thing you can do to retain your workforce.

Select the right person for the job – This might seem obvious but if you haven’t hired the right person for the company you’re going to have a hard time retaining them no matter how much you pay them. They can be incredibly talented, the best the pool has to offer, but if they don’t fit inside your company, aren’t part of the team, you’ll regret their hire and so will they.

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