IT sector’s challenge – to strengthen employee loyalty

2021 03 05 · 3 min read

Information technology specialist has been one of the most popular and in-demand professions in Lithuania already for a decade. In Lithuania, the IT sector is growing – the country is attractive to foreign companies and start-ups, so competition for IT professionals is intensifying and HR specialists have to pay more attention to the retention of existing employees.

“Staff turnover in the IT sector will always remain because it is a natural thing. The question is how often employees change. Today, the goal set for HR managers is to avoid excessive staff turnover,” says Darius Dužinskas, Chief People & Marketing Officer at Baltic Amadeus. According to him, the most important thing in retaining employees is strengthening employee loyalty, listening to and responding to their needs, as well as the ability to learn by analysing those cases when the employee still chooses to leave. “Everyone has his own arguments, which can be related to many aspects – the character of the company’s activities, the business area of the project, customers, technologies, team or personal well-being. However, it is important for HR experts to talk and hear from those who choose to leave the company. Their insights can help to better understand what the remaining team members need,” concludes the expert.

The focus of the “stay interview” is the employee’s well-being

Although annual performance appraisal interviews form an integral part of the company’s HR policy, they are usually focused on work tasks and challenges that arise at work. “There is an unwritten tradition in such interview to talk about goals and results, to set goals and agree on terms. However, such annual interviews often leave no time for other very important questions: What is good? What do you like and what encourages you to stay in the company? What needs to be changed to make your experience with the company even better? Stay interviews are especially useful for this,” says Dužinskas.

A “stay interview” can provide the company with valuable insights on the successfully functioning work aspects that are satisfactory to employees, effectively implemented company initiatives, or on what builds a sense of loyalty with employees. It is important to ask questions properly and give the employee the opportunity to tell what he likes about working in the company and what hinders him in work. According to Dužinskas, this is a very open interview, where objective indicators should not be sought, because the main focus is on the employee’s emotional well-being: “During the quarantine, interviews of this type have become even more relevant because they strengthen the employee’s confidence in the company. When managers focus on employee well-being and experience instead of asking about annual performance, it develops personal connection and trust. It is trust in the employer that is a key condition for loyalty.” According to the expert, the concept of trust encompasses both how the employee sees his future in the company and how he assesses the current situation: “Loyalty, like trust, cannot be bought. It needs to be earned.”

Tell me why you are here

Dužinskas reminds that the basis of trust is an open interview, where the most important thing for the employer is to understand the aspects of work that motivate the employee: “The most important question is ‘Why are you here?’ It is this question, that lays the basis for further interview. There can be different answers, and it is important that they are sincere. We all dream to hear an employee saying that he chooses to work for the company because he enjoys the best conditions in the market. However, in reality, the answers are much more diverse and… more interesting!”. According to the expert, it is necessary to listen not only to what employees say, but also to what they slur over: if only the salary is emphasised, it can be a signal of slurring over problems in communication with colleagues, or, on the contrary, if the employee’s main motivator is a good atmosphere in the team, it is worth asking whether it will be enough for the employee in three years to stay in the company.

“When we are talking about why the employee chooses to stay in the company, we need to find as many things to make them happy and motivate them as possible. The more aspects they like, the higher the probability that the employee is fully satisfied,” says the HR specialist. It is possible to find out the things that the employee likes by asking him different questions: What do you expect most when you return to work after the weekend? How do you feel on Mondays and how do you feel on Fridays? What do you tell your friends and family about the company team? “It is important not to be afraid of another question: Would you recommend your company as an employer to friends? This is a question that can help to reveal the true feeling of the employee about being with the company,” advises Dužinskas.

An interview with a leaving employee is an opportunity for the company to improve

“The competition for employees in the IT sector is really rigid, so it is natural for employees to migrate. Although a “stay interview” is a good way to hear an employee’s needs and strengthen loyalty, sometimes an employee’s personal choice is to move elsewhere – and that is understandable. What could and should the company do in this situation? Talk to the leaving person,” says Dužinskas.

An “exit interview” is an open interview with an employee who is leaving the company, when questions about the reasons for leaving are boldly asked. This is an opportunity to understand what has prompted the change of job and how it relates to the situation in the company. The expert emphasises that a decision to change job is not easy, so people make it only after carefully considering and evaluating the pros and cons: “It is a myth that changing job is easy. Yes, the process is clear in theory but for the person such a change is quite a challenge mentally. So, if somebody makes such a decision, which is often difficult, the company must understand what caused that decision.”

It is important that the information obtained is not put under the bushel but is used to improve conditions for other employees. “If structural problems, which affect many employees, fail to be ‘picked up’ in a ‘stay interview’, then an ‘exit interview’ will definitely reveal them.” This information allows taking proactive measures for this situation not to be repeated. The most important thing is to hear and understand what motivates people to stay and what motivates them to leave. Very often, the boundary between the two is thin,” says the HR expert.

Measure the well-being of your employees today

Dužinskas reminds that the mood of the employees and “temperature” in the team must be measured constantly, without waiting for annual interviews, “stay interviews” or the last interview with employees who have decided to leave: “There are publicly available tools that allow us to assess the situation among employees. For example, the Employee Experience Index allows not only measuring moods, but also comparing them with the global situation.”

The HR expert shares a link to a publicly available tool that helps to assess employee morale: