The 2020 Retention Report

The primary meaning of the word retention in the Oxford Dictionary is explained as “the act of keeping something rather than losing it or stopping it”

I’d argue that when applied to talent, this misses the importance of creating the right environment to retain, which is often a more complex issue. 

It has been our intention in the second ISL Retention Report Tech Scale Ups 2020 to break through this simplistic view and bring to the surface how people working in the UK’s tech scale ups – and indeed those organisations themselves – feel about their jobs. What makes them stay, leave – and want to escape! 

We surveyed 250 people who left their UK based tech role in the previous four months to find out what drove them to leave.

Now having the perspective of two years of research, it is fascinating to see how consistently important a company’s culture is to the tech sector. While there is, given the past 12 month’s political upheaval, an increase in the importance of salary, it remains clear that people really care about their work environment. 

Culture is king. When it comes to tech employees leaving their roles, for the 2nd year running company culture is the number one factor, with 80% citing it as the reason for leaving.

On one hand this is not surprising – the world has well and truly moved on from the days of a job-for-life – it is also true that tech talent is in the fortunate position of being able to pick and choose. This also perhaps makes them more aware of their preferences and where they want to spend their time. 

When talking of the value of culture, we need to also address the importance of inclusion. Thankfully, diversity and inclusion are increasingly known as key to sustainable growth, yet remain an obstacle for many tech businesses. Debbie Foster, CEO at Tech Talent Charter, said:

“If you’re going to look at diversity, you must consider inclusion. We often hear that companies investing a lot in recruitment but they are unable to realise longer term success because the work environment does not cater for different strengths and needs.

The report brings to life through testimony of the employers we have spoken with that there is a deep understanding of the requirements, challenges and benefits that changing thinking can provide an organisation’s overall cultural development. And that small shifts can often lead to major results.  

Enhancing retention is certainly a challenge for many UK tech scaleups and startups. Each business is a unique set of people, opportunity and ambition which have to be considered in often difficult circumstances. But I hope that some of the solutions we have laid out in the report can be universally applied to help tech businesses tackle common causes of tech retention issues.

It is worth noting that another reference in the Oxford Dictionary about the word retention is “the ability to remember things”. In this fast-paced sector, remembering that it’s about the people may be the most important quality of all. 

If any of these issues sound familiar and you want to learn more about how to hold onto your top tech talent, take a look at our Retention Report for unique market data, business advice and actionable solutions.

Alternatively, if you think your branding needs improving from the inside out, take a look at how to improve your employer branding. If your retention issues are more specific, try our latest blog on how to attract, hire and retain Gen Z candidates.

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