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Christina Gialleli


How L&D Helps Leaders Retain Tech Employees in the Great Resignation

Pay and perks are fine—learning and development are better

Published: Tuesday, March 22, 2022 - 11:03

The Great Resignation continues to have a major effect on the talent and skills shortage in the job market. People are still leaving their jobs at an unprecedented rate.

Although the Great Resignation isn’t industry-specific, not all industries are affected the same.

Although 55 percent of the U.S. workforce is thinking of quitting their jobs within the next 12 months, a survey by TalentLMS and Workable found that the quit rate reaches 72 percent for employees working in tech/IT roles. Their reasons for wanting to quit are many: limited career progression, lack of flexibility in working hours, and toxic work environments are the main culprits besides salary and benefits.

Understandably, companies are scrambling to retain tech employees. But while providing all different types of benefits and perks is always a good idea, it’s not, by itself, enough. The key to reducing turnover and building back employee loyalty is learning and development (L&D).

Providing opportunities in career development and training programs shows tech employees they’re working for a company that values them and is willing to invest in their growth.

What motivates tech employees

The pandemic has redefined the way we work, ushering in a rise of remote and hybrid workspaces to the United States and beyond. Across every industry and demographic group, the push for more flexibility when it comes to both the location of work and work hours is clear. According to research, 83 percent of American workers would be in favor of a four-day work week and willing to work harder to attain it, provided their salary would stay the same.

Tech employees echo that sentiment. In the TalentLMS and Workable survey, which collected responses from 1,200 U.S. tech employees, flexibility in working hours was the top reason 40 percent of them wanted to quit. And when it comes to slowing down the wave of resignations, half of those surveyed stated that flexibility in working hours and in where they’re working from would make them more motivated at work.

But that’s not all. The same survey found that almost two out of three employees (62%) are motivated in their job when they are offered more training and learning opportunities.

It makes sense. In order to not fall behind in the new world of work, stay ahead of the curve in a fast-changing environment, and maintain a level of excitement at their work, tech employees want upskilling and reskilling opportunities.

Companies are catching on to that. A TalentLMS survey found that upskilling and reskilling practices have been on the rise since the beginning of the pandemic. Teaching employees new skills will allow them to progress internally in other roles if needed, gain more confidence in their capabilities at work, and feel more productive. All these things are critical to employee engagement and career success.

Knowing what motivates their employees will allow companies to implement better solutions that meet their needs. This will make a huge difference in the overall business culture and increase retention rates.

How tech employees prefer to learn

Now that you know that offering L&D opportunities to your tech employees can make a difference in retaining them, you may be wondering how to go about it.

Everyone has unique preferences when it comes to learning new skills. It’s important that learning and development programs cater to each employee’s way of learning, offering a variety of delivery methods. This way, training will be more effective, engaging, and fun for all.

So, what are the preferred ways for tech employees to learn? Three out of four respondents to the TalentLMS and Workable survey chose video tutorials. And, understandably, after a long period without physical events or in-person training due to Covid-19, slightly more than half picked methods such as workshops, seminars, and conferences.

When it comes to the material itself, keeping it fresh is important. Times are changing, and employees won’t relate to materials that have existed for, say, a decade—especially entry-level employees who are more mobile-friendly and will be highly influenced by the training they receive.

In short, training is most effective when it reflects the everyday life and the contemporary challenges employees face. Otherwise, it’s just theory.

The most important skills for tech workers

Having covered the “why” and the “how” of tech employee training, it’s time to focus on the “what”—and this may be a hard question in the tech industry, as there are constantly new cutting-edge developments.

Learning new skills to stay on top of what’s happening, as well as developing existing skills, seems to be the preference of most tech employees. Respondents in the TalentLMS and Workable survey placed technical skills related to their current role or project first (65%), followed by “technical skills related to emerging technologies” (60%).

When it comes to technical skills, machine learning and AI have the top place. This is no surprise; applied AI ranks consistently high across industries.

However, the value of soft or “people” skills shouldn’t be underestimated, either. In the same survey, soft skills, such as communication, leadership, project management, and time management, were picked by almost half of the respondents.

Soft skills can teach your employees how to build a mindset that will set them up for success—no matter what challenges lie ahead.

How training and development opportunities have benefited companies’ retention rates

With the World Economic Forum estimating that more than half of the global workforce will need new skills in the next five years, it’s clear that doubling down on L&D practices is the smart way to go for companies that want to maintain their momentum.

Companies need to actively create training and development opportunities, and offer their workforce the opportunity to learn new skills through cost-effective online development courses.

This will make employees feel valued, engaged, motivated, and ultimately more likely to be promoted internally when an opening presents itself. As the Society for Human Resource Management reports, internal mobility is one of the keys to boosting retention.

Professional development is crucial to the success of employees as well as businesses. Investing in upskilling training and opportunities will further drive employee recruitment, engagement, retention, and development while supporting business growth and helping employees realize their professional goals.

With the Great Resignation having a huge effect on tech employees, training is a proven, powerful tool to combat employee turnover. Leaning on L&D shouldn’t be a temporary patch; it should be a continuous strategy, especially in a sector where change happens so rapidly.

It’s important that employers provide—and keep providing—tech workers with the opportunities to level up, both in terms of skills and career progression. If not, the tech industry will continue to see high quit rates.


About The Author

Christina Gialleli’s picture

Christina Gialleli

As director of “people ops” at Epignosis since 2018, Christina Gialleli built the function from the ground up and fueled the company’s rapid growth from a startup of 35 people to a 150-strong scale-up. Gialleli is responsible for all people ops, from onboarding to offboarding, and facilitating the company’s ambitious team-growth plans. Gialleli has more than a decade of experience in human resources, both in Europe and the United States. Starting off her career with multinationals in fast-moving consumer goods, oil, and gas industries, she transitioned to the world of tech in 2016. Gialleli holds a master's degree in human resources management from Florida International University.