Why are your IT team members leaving your association?

Emily Shine
March 27, 2022

Tech pros are quitting in droves, costing organizations 6 to 9 months of recruiting and onboarding expenses to find replacements. 

This trend is no different for associations and nonprofits either. So why are your information technology (IT) team members leaving? There are few faster ways to tank a successful association than to sit back and let skilled staff quit — especially much-needed developers, integration professionals, data specialists, and programmers. 

As the world becomes more tech-centric, tech professionals and knowledge workers are irreplaceable assets. Technical people are the essence of resilience and the key to natural selection in the ever-changing digital economy. 

While technology serves to enable your organization’s digital transformation, your IT workers drive that transformation and play a direct role in value-based technological investment and adoption. 

Access to strong tech capabilities and creative minds define your economic power and disruptive capability. And with the escalating digital divide among organizations, you simply cannot afford to lose these software developers and other technical staff. 

So, why isn't your association holding on to critical IT professionals? And how can you foster an environment that puts your developers and technical team — and your organization— on the best track for success? 

Keep IT folks at your association by avoiding these 9 pitfalls. 

Pitfall #1 – Lack of Innovation & Challenge 

One of the main reasons for this accelerating IT turnover is related to technological shifts. Talented developers and specialized data and IT professionals want to be positioned to reap the benefits of the exponential growth of innovation. 

Just consider the proliferation of artificial intelligence (AI) revenues. AI is on pace to add $30 trillion (about $92,000 per person in the US) to the economy over the two decades, which is over 12 times more than the economic impact of the Internet in the mid-2000s. 

With this explosive growth, it’s no wonder why AI investments hit a record high last year totaling over $77 billion. But the biggest challenge for AI is access to qualified workers. Tech workers are integral to meeting booming demand.

Tech worker demand

Organizations that gain a competitive advantage are no longer good at doing just one thing either. Beyond AI and the automation economy, game-changing technologies like cryptosystems, blockchain, and trusted, cloud-based data ecosystems are solving problems at scale and changing industries overnight. 

These new technologies are being adopted a whole lot faster and have a far greater impact in less time than tech investment in the mid-2000s. But you need techies on your team to capitalize on these advancements and leap out in front of the competition. 

And if you think IT folks are unaware of their value, you’d be dead wrong. Developers and technology professionals are hot commodities in this cut-throat environment, and they understand their role in building organizational resilience. 

Business continuity isn’t about implementing the latest technological tools of the day. Developing solutions and business models for the future requires human ingenuity, resourcefulness, and diversity of experience. 

Solutions

Tip #1 – Create a challenging work environment and track continuous improvement. It leads to bragging rights and their increased presence as experts in the IT community. 

Tip #2 – Give tech staff the freedom to design software. Allow them to use modern, affordable technology to solve the problems impeding continuous improvement goals. Achieving exponential business goals will go a long way to scratch their itch for challenging projects and not keep their work routine mundane. 

Tip #3 – Dedicate some tech bandwidth for team members to work on technical debt. This gives them an opportunity to work on the latest technologies, keeping them intrigued, engaged, and hugely satisfied. 

READ MORE: 11 Proven Ways to Attract & Retain Tech Talent for Associations 

Pitfall #2 – Outdated Tools & Tech Glitches 

One of the most frustrating feelings you can have in this tech-driven world is a tool or program that isn’t working the way it should. 

If you’re looking to drive IT team members away from your organization, then one of the quickest ways to do so is by not giving them helpful tools to make their jobs easier. Outdated tools and tech glitches is a recipe for short tech tenures and high churn at your association. 

Solutions 

Tip #1 – Just as organization leaders need to keep an eye on what’s coming, you also need to ensure you’re keeping up with software updates and new releases for your current technology. Don't get held back by legacy technologies, systems, and processes. 

Tip #2 – Modern technologies serve as cool new toys to play with. Adapt to technology shifts and give your IT people access to the tools they need to embrace change, learn, and thrive. This user experience encourages growth for all parties, including your organization. 

Tip #3 – Trying to make current software fit into an existing framework is frustrating for IT personnel. Plus, it can significantly slow down network speed. Consider overhauling systems for better integration and easier daily operations. 

Tip #4 – Eliminate any tech glitches ASAP! People, especially techies, gravitate towards devices and applications that are fluid and easy to use. Department heads should be working collaboratively with IT to ensure new tech works before rolling it out. 

Pitfall #3 – Culture Issues  

The work environment that your organization fosters is a key driver of employee attrition and innovation process in today’s tech-focused world. 

A workplace culture that lacks a growth-oriented mindset also indirectly discourages risk-taking and creative thinking, and intentional, roll-up-your-sleeves change initiatives. This creates a static, almost discouraging environment that hinders upward mobility and professional development. Plus, it's detrimental to the iterative process of innovation and continuous improvement. 

Another culture-related reason for high churn has nothing to do with mental health, compensation, or work–life balance. Instead, one of the top reasons programmers, software developers, and IT specialists resign has to do with belongingness and community – or lack thereof. 

A lack of belonging stems from perceived acceptance, inclusion, importance, and identity within the organization. Not feeling a sense of fitting in, security, and importance in the workplace is especially problematic for historically marginalized professionals. Building a culture of belonging is crucial for healing, engagement, and retention for all staff, regardless of background or racial or ethnic identity. 

Many tech employees will dip out without proper notice or explanation if they don’t feel connected to coworkers, proud of the organizational values and purpose, and supported in their career development and everyday work. 

Solutions 

Tip #1 – Create a culture of learning, change, and growth. Leverage the power of positive psychology to shift towards a culture of change. Encourage techies to find a level of comfort in the unexpected. Change should feel like a normal part of the routine. 

Tip #2 – Attaining a culture of innovation and progression requires keen attention on your team and a people-first, stimulating mindset. Ask your tech workers about key business decisions and the potential impact on all stakeholders. Encourage them to provide feedback and engage in the process, regardless of their position in the organizational hierarchy. 

Tip #3 – Moving towards a more-equitable workplace requires all hands-on deck — at levels of the organization. Galvanize support for diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) work and demonstrate your commitment to racial equity and justice. 

Tip #4 – Allocate time and effort on a regular basis to create space for organization-wide conversation to address shared humanity. Together, set DE&I goals as a unified organization. Map out ways to meet those initiatives and track your progress. 

Tip #5 – Be intentional about building community. Ensure your IT team members feel like they have a place in your organization. 

Tip #6 – Be intentional about your commitment to professional training and career growth. 

Pitfall #4 – Team Issues 

Beyond a lack of diversity, a poor team environment is a surefire way to get developers, data gurus, and IT specialists running for the door. Unhealthy social dynamics in the workplace, personality conflicts, and personality clashes are 

Tech-minded people want to work with other smart techies who pull their weight and bring different experiences and expertise to the table. Developers and IT people thrive in a well-rounded, mutually beneficial learning environment that encourages a meeting of the minds. 

A healthy working environment and social dynamics is not only attractive and stimulating to techies; it also allows them to develop solutions to make the technology more user-friendly and efficient for your organization. 

Solutions

Tip #1 – Encourage an interactive atmosphere for the free exchange of knowledge and information. Allow your IT team to throw ideas off each other and gain new skills. Your IT department should be working collaboratively towards shared goals. 

Tip #2 – Take a proactive approach to team conflict and personality clashes. 

Tip #3 – Ensure your organizational values are well-established. Demonstrate your commitment to building community, positive team interactions, and DE&I initiatives. 

Pitfall #5 – Poor Management & Leadership 

An incompetent or inexperienced manager, CIO, and other IT leaders can surely encourage staff to jump ship. Poor leadership and micromanagement affect team morale, motivation, and productivity, the ripple effects of which can plunge tech retention and your bottom line. 

And in an agile environment, an ineffective manager, team lead, scrum master, or technology exec disrupts the flow of the entire scrum team and employee experience. A manager or leader with inadequate training, a disagreeable personality, or who is simply overwhelmed can put a dagger through development goals, causing much-needed techies to sprint towards the door. 

IT managers must have the right background and tools to work with and support your IT department. They need to instill a sense of purpose, pride, and commitment in the work at hand, the organizational mission, and the role of the incremental development process and continuous improvement cycle in building value creation and IT maturity in the age of digital disruption. 

Transparency, roll-up-your-sleeves dedication, and the embodiment of organizational values start from the top. Software developers, data analysts, and other IT professionals want to have faith in their leaders. They want to know everybody in the organization, especially managers and leadership, is working hard to foster a positive work environment and move the association in the right direction. 

Solutions

Tip #1 – Make sure that when you hire a manager, that person is suited for managing and working with people. Strong management and leadership skills are essential. 

Tip #2 – Make thorough manager training a priority. 

Tip #3 – It’s important that everyone, including management, is working collaboratively and free to ask questions and voice opinions and fresh solutions. An honest, open team environment and staff-manager relationship are pivotal. 

Tip #4 – Ensure managers are regularly checking in with IT team members without micromanaging! Managers should make valuable time to connect with the valuable technology, integration, and data people you need to grow your organization.  

Pitfall #6 – Lack of Professional Development, Training & Networking 

You risk losing people in tech roles – and staff across your organization, for that matter – if you’re not supporting regular learning and career growth opportunities.

Plus, it’s much easier (and more cost-effective) to offer training and skills development opportunities than to replace information technology people. 

Cultivating a work culture that encourages professional development and future growth potential is a fantastic way to boost morale, productivity, and staff retention. 

Solutions

Tip #1 – Make a saying like “always be learning” a key mantra to instill an unwavering commitment to continuing education and long-term professional development throughout your organization. 

Tip #2 – Become a champion of your IT team’s personal and professional growth by dedicating time or setting aside funds for their learning and development. Allowance for training and learning new tech within their performance objectives will help quench their thirst for playing with new tech. 

Tip #3 – Provide avenues for your team to participate in tech conferences paid for by your organization. These can be in-person, virtual, or hybrid events. This gives them the opportunity to explore innovative trends and influencers, and in turn, lights a fire within them and your organization. 

Tip #4 – Organize in-house training sessions and skills development exercises for all tech staff, regardless of position level. 

Tip #5 – Encourage your team to leverage online development courses and association-focused resources

Tip #6 – Leverage strategic partnerships with your training opportunities (local colleges, business partners, etc.). 

Tip #7 – Organize cross-training, shadowing, and upskilling opportunities. 

Tip #8 – Provide opportunities for junior developers to shadow and gain a healthy mix of experience. 

READ MORE: 11 Proven Ways to Attract & Retain Tech Talent for Associations 

Pitfall #7 – Low Pay  

Poor compensation is another reason developers and tech talent leave. 

When good people quit, it could end up costing your organization a whole lot more overall. You may think that their salary/wage is fair, but it’s important to consider industry standards. 

If IT people feel like their pay is too low for the work and the value they contribute to the organization, they will find a higher-paid opportunity elsewhere. 

You can make record amounts of revenue with way less overhead with strong programmers and tech experts. A well-paid tech team can allow your organization to run lean and bootstrap while harnessing technology to grow quickly and create enormous value. 

Solutions 

Tip #1 – Ensure all tech staff members are paid well compared to industry standards. 

Tip #2 – Revisit technology employee salary regularly to ensure it's in a competitive market range but not exceedingly high. 

Pitfall #8 – Poor Hiring Decisions 

According to the Harvard Business Review, 80% of employee attrition is from bad hiring decisions. And PayScale found that organizations “with the shortest typical employee tenure are also the ones that are hiring most aggressively.” 

Solutions 

Tip #1 – Streamline your onboarding process and improve your screening approach. 

Tip #2 – Take advantage of flexible staffing models with fully dedicated IT teams and team members. This allows you to support a variety of software applications with a full-time employee(s) embedded in your organizational culture and transformation goals. 

Tip #3 – Hire from within by prioritizing training and learning development. 

READ MORE: 11 Proven Ways to Attract & Retain Tech Talent for Associations 

Pitfall #9 – Lack of Appreciation, Trust & Autonomy 

Like culture and a lack of belonging, feeling underappreciated is another factor as to why software developers and people in tech leave a job. It may not seem important, but developers and tech specialists in your association want to be recognized for their contributions to the common mission. 

And a sense of freedom and independence is just as, if not more, important. 

With the rapid growth of remote work, especially in the tech world, the authority and space to work autonomously are critical to combat tech attrition at your association. 

Solutions

Tip #1 – Entrust your IT team members have the skills, knowledge, and responsibility to do what they were hired to do. Positive mental health goes a long way in increasing productivity. 

Tip #2 – Celebrate success early and often. Be intentional about tokens of appreciation and gratitude. Telling employees that they’re doing an excellent job and recognizing their accomplishments goes a long way. 

Tip #3 – Make it a top priority to ensure IT folks feel supported, respected, and trusted to do the job they were hired for and make things happen. 

Are Your IT team members leaving? What Now? 

Millions of CEOs, stakeholders, investors, and board members are getting caught off guard by high attrition for software developers, programmers, digital data analysts, and other tech professionals across industries. It’s even a challenge for large for-profit companies and tech giants like Google whose median employee tenure is only 1.1 years. 

Given high turnover and IT staffing shortage, the issue may never be solved completely, and certainty not immediately. It’s a challenge for the highest-paid employer just as it is for non-profits and member-based associations. Yet, all organizations, regardless of size or industry, must learn how to live and work through these changes. 

We created Elastik Teams to help associations and non-profits scale up despite the challenges of today’s labor market. Our staffing augmentation model is all about flexibility. Get in touch to see how we can help your association brave technology shifts, transformation, and the future of work with convenience and peace of mind.