How to improve employee retention in your IT team – An introduction

29th June 2023

Did you know that the financial cost of replacing an employee is 30% of their annual salary? That figure alone should have managers and team leaders doing all they can to keep their employees happy. Not to mention the unquantifiable effect of employee turnover on team morale, knowledge drain, and the amount of time and effort needed to onboard every new hire. Yet, for some reason, team happiness and employee retention is not at the top of every manager’s list of priorities. 

In a world where an IT teams’ success is measured by points per sprint or days billed per month, maybe it’s time to add employee retention to the list too, because, according to research, if you increase happiness and team retention, not only will your profit increase, but so will your share price!

So, how can you improve employee retention?

According to research, happy employers are less likely to leave a company, and unhappy employees are more likely to be looking for a new job. So, a “simple” way to improve retention is to improve happiness. But how do you do that?

Firstly, it’s not easy; you can’t just install a ballpit, a table football and give out free breakfasts every morning – it won’t work. You need to put in time and effort and sometimes make major changes to established cultures. However, in the long term (and probably the medium term too), should you make the investment, you will more than pay back your effort. You’ll also create a nicer workplace too.

There are many theories on how to improve happiness in your company, from the thoughts of all the part-time happiness bloggers to professors like Arthur Brooks who have studied happiness in the workplace for decades. In our article today we’re going to look at the recommendations from the US Surgeon General as firstly, it summarises all the other research quite well, and secondly because their framework is nice and easy to understand.

The US Surgeon General argues that there are five essentials necessary for the workplace to be an engine for wellbeing, and these five essentials are grounded on ten human needs. These needs broadly match Maslow’s hierarchy; however organisations do not need to tackle each essential in the order outlined by Maslow.

The essentials are:

EssentialHuman needs
1 Protection from HarmSafety and security
2 Connection & CommunitySocial support and belonging
3 Work-Life HarmonyAutonomy and flexibility.
4 Mattering at WorkDignity and meaning.
5 Opportunity for GrowthLearning and a sense of accomplishment.

By focusing on these essentials and improving the wellbeing of their employees, companies can help their employees feel happier and ultimately improve the health of their organisation.

Over the next few weeks we will be exploring each section of the framework, looking at how the framework relates to team happiness and employee retention and giving usable  strategies that companies can use.

  1. Protection From Harm – coming soon
  2. Connection & Community – coming soon
  3. Work-Life Harmony – coming soon
  4. Mattering at Work – coming soon
  5. Opportunity for Growth – coming soon

If you want a preview of the content you can watch our 30 minute webinar on “how to reduce employee turnover”.

If you are struggling with employee retention in your IT team and want to share your experiences and get some practical advice, feel free to get in touch. It’s our mission to share our knowledge, and we love to help – just email our CEO at [email protected].

Alternatively, if you are looking to augment your existing team or outsource some of your development and want to learn more about how we use the science of happiness to build highly skilled, stable, collaborative teams please contact us via the form below, or just book an appointment with our account manager, Sarah, at

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