Do more to keep staff, bosses told

IT firms must do more to educate and motivate their staff if they want to keep them, confirms the first major piece of research on staff turnover in New Zealand in 20 years.

IT firms must do more to educate and motivate their staff if they want to keep them, confirms the first major piece of research on staff turnover in New Zealand in 20 years.

University of Auckland associate professor Peter Boxall and senior lecturer Dr Erling Rasmussen, who carried out the research, say on average all firms lose 10% of their staff every year. High turnover hits productivity, they say, and money is not always why staff quit.

“We often find that employees don’t feel stimulated by their work or appreciated by their employers,” says Rasmussen. To reduce staff turnover, employers need to involve staff more in job design and personal development training, giving them opportunities to grow in their work, he says.

Boxall says IT is an area of high turnover and the younger the staff the more likely they are to leave for better opportunities elsewhere. Low skilled jobs, such as retailing, also have high staff turnover.

The University of Auckland is carrying out further employment research, for the Department of Labour, looking at the implications of the Employment Relations Act. Results will be produced next May or June.

Initial findings, says Boxall, suggest legislation has little impact on how employers value staff. Instead this is determined by the tightness of labour markets and how hard it is for firms to recruit and retrain. Where shortages occur, employers “become more creative”, he says.

ITANZ executive director Jim O'Neill says IT firms have to work hard to keep their staff and some are better than others.

He says large US firms, particularly the consultancies, are often the best employers. "These firms take staff management and growth very seriously. They have very little turnover. They offer the ability to broaden skill sets and work in different territories around the world," says O'Neill.

Smaller New Zealand-owned firms aren't always able to offer these things, he says, but in IT workers are encouraged to make their own career path. "The highly motivated IT individual is capable of looking after themselves," O'Neill says.

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