Even among top companies, technical employee engagement is down 3 percent since 2013, and the proportion of tech employees who are merely “contributing” versus actively engaged has risen 2 percent over the last three years. This shift, coupled with a series of problematic trends, means technology employers can’t afford to keep doing business as usual. So, what needs to change?

Tech employees want more than flexible work hours, the option of working remotely and overflowing coffee cups. Let’s take a look at what tech employees are asking for and how companies can begin changing the downward spiral of engagement.

Focus on engaging women.

Transforming attitudes isn’t something that happens overnight, and it can’t be done effectively by guessing what employees need. Quantum Workplace recently surveyed more than 75,000 tech industry employees in its 2016 “Engaging Tech Employees” report. The study showed that leaders’ commitment to creating a great work environment had the highest positive correlation with technology employees’ levels of engagement.

In the tech world, creating a positive environment for female employees may be the biggest challenge. Deloitte Global predicted that by the end of 2016, fewer than 25 percent of IT jobs in developed countries would be held by women. Leaders can only create a great place to work if all employees feel included and important to the company as a whole.

Solution

Conduct employee surveys to understand what each employee needs to heighten their performance, motivation and overall job satisfaction.

Concur Technologies found that conducting surveys at each stage of the employee “life-cycle” gave them the most impactful insights. Their first round of new hire, current employee and exit surveys presented valuable feedback, which led to change throughout the organization. By asking employees the hard questions, they created a new corporate social responsibility program, a diversity and inclusion program, and new investments in training and leadership development.

When creating surveys, don’t forget to include questions about workplace culture. Improving workplace culture is crucial in creating a positive work environment, especially for women. Find out if anything about this male-dominated field makes them uncomfortable or unequal. Address these issues head-on by developing an inclusive workplace culture.

Set up brainstorming groups with both male and female participants, or sign up for online recognition software that shows off both male and female employees who are going above the call of duty.

Build trust in leadership.

If asked, would your employees say they trust each level of leadership within your company? Trust issues between employees and leadership is a major issue in employee engagement. The “Engaging Tech Employees” research shows that trust in management/leadership ranks as the second-highest engagement driver within the tech sector.

Employees who trust their leaders are more likely to believe in the success of the company’s future. This belief is the fourth-ranked driver of tech employee engagement. The overarching issue is the low number of IT employees who value their managers.

In October 2015, TEK Systems set out to better understand the IT world’s retention issues with its IT industry survey. After surveying more than 1,500 IT professionals, they found only 42 percent are “very satisfied” with the quality of their immediate manager. Even worse, only 25 percent are very satisfied with the quality of senior leadership.

Solution

With such incredibly low numbers of leader satisfaction, enforcing frequent feedback and one-on-one meetings isn’t enough. Without proper training, your leaders may be wasting your employees’ time. Offer a class on how to effectively give and receive feedback, start an online employee recognition system, and assist in changing outdated procedures when necessary. Once leaders have education, tools and support, they can begin building trust throughout the organization.

After a large merger and rebranding, Aviat Networks was struggling with cohesiveness and trust. Knowing they needed to repair the broken bond, leaders updated their employee recognition system and launched new initiatives to boost trust in management and senior leadership. With these enhanced tools, Aviat Networks’ number of engaged and contributing employees increased by 4.3 percent in just one year.

Offer educational and training opportunities.

In the ever-evolving world of IT, employee engagement depends on companies that are willing to give them opportunities to grow. The third-strongest engagement driver among technology employees in the “Engaging Tech Employees” study was a positive perception about professional growth and career development opportunities.

Having training resources available is only helpful if employees know they’re there. The TEK Systems survey shows there’s yet another disconnect between IT leaders and IT professionals. An impressive 78 percent of IT leaders say they have development programs in place, but only 38 percent of IT professionals say their companies offer these types of programs.

Solution

Losing quality employees due to a misunderstanding about available educational opportunities – or having no opportunities available — is costly. Simply offering continuing education courses will add to the ninth-ranked driver of tech employee engagement: the organization’s investments in making employees more successful.

Try adapting a bottom-up educational approach. Since your IT professionals are likely the first to know about upcoming changes to processes like coding, they’ll know which educational opportunities they need. Once employees identify areas of interest, help by being an expert on where to find quality courses and making room in their schedules to complete training.

What tips do you have to help engage employees in the technology industry? Let us know!

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