Companies said they retain employees by setting the stage for them to find professional opportunity, satisfaction, reward and growth. They keep engineers close to the excitement of solving problems and creating products, and try to minimize everything else. They reduce attrition by controlling for factors that would give engineers cause to look elsewhere for work.
“It’s pretty basic, It comes down to making people feel valued and recognized, and creating a place they enjoy working, where they get meaning out of their work.”
They also show that engineers change jobs in many cases because they want more excitement, better recognition or greater opportunity than they believe they can get from their current employer. Sometimes they are simply turned off by factors their employer cannot control.
Most workers would rather not change jobs. Workers change jobs when pushed by some outside or internal force, such as a call from an employment agency, the concerns of family or a change in the company’s stability.
“Engineers are no different than other employees in these regards. If an organization pays a fair salary and constantly shows the engineer that they are valued, the chance of their leaving is small.”
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“It’s challenging to keep everyone challenged. They’re all very driven, like myself. Some parts of the work are not always the most exciting stuff. The key is to keep people interested, because if they get bored they start looking for other things to do.”
Opportunity is the main reason engineers change jobs.
Effective leadership is another factor in keeping employees motivated and engaged. It comes down to communicating goals and conferring respect, both personally and professionally. “There is no reason that this cannot be accomplished,” Johns Hopkins’ Iserson said. “And respect for professionals costs the company little to no extra money.”
Mutual respect is key.
And “survey after survey” shows that “having a friend or friends at work” is central to an employee’s desire to stay put, he said. “So having an environment that’s collegial is an important way of helping retain people.”
If an employer does right by an engineer through the first two or three years of employment, the chances of long-term retention increase, said ADI’s Javorski. “This includes all of those things that contribute to workers’ wanting to stay,” he said: good communication, good compensation, good leadership, good products and good strategic vision.
“I call it ‘managing the transition,’ ” Javorski said. “If you take care of that, other things take over. All of these are plans, not just happenstance.”