CIO Skills: The Problem With Unhappy IT Employees Who Leave

by drjim on March 14, 2012

If you have to leave, don't leave unhappy

If you have to leave, don’t leave unhappy

In tough times, every CIO has seen their share of IT workers leave the company. Sometimes they leave because they find a job that they think will be a better fit for them or sometimes the company tells them to leave. No matter what the cause, the one thing that you don’t want them to do is leave unhappy. I’ve got some bad news for you – that’s exactly what is happening.

Why You Don’t Want Your Employees Leaving Unhappy

A recent survey of workers who had just left their jobs revealed that more than 75% of them would not recommend the firm that they had just left to others. Unfortunately this statistic applies to the IT sector as well. This could quickly turn into a big problem for CIOs.

Of course this has always been a problem. However, it has only recently become a much bigger problem. Joe Light over at the Wall Street Journal reports that back in 2008, 42% of workers who had just left their job would not recommend the firm that they had just been working for. Clearly this number has grown since then and that’s where the problem is coming from.

You might be saying to yourself “So what? They left the company and so of course they are going to have a low opinion of it.” No matter what the reason for their leaving was, if they are walking away with bad thoughts about your IT department then it’s going to make your IT recruiting efforts that much harder to do successfully.

Remember that getting the best and the brightest to come work in your IT department takes two things: you need to have a job opening and they have to be willing to work for you. Since IT workers are so well connected, potential new workers often seek out and get advice about accepting a job offer from former employees of a firm. Now do you see the problem?

The reason that former employees are so unhappy is pretty clear. During the most recent economic downturn, most IT workers feel that they got some pretty poor treatment by their IT department. The result of this is that they were left with the feeling that both the company and the IT department simply didn’t care about them. Therefore, when they leave the company, they have a low opinion about the IT department that they have just separated from.

What You Can Do To Fix This Problem

As a CIO you need to accept the fact that you are always going to have employees leaving your IT department. No matter if it is because of their decision or because of a downsizing, there will be a constant outflow of former employees.

What you can do is to take steps to control how this stream of former IT workers views the company. The key is to realize that just because they’ve left the company doesn’t mean that the IT department’s relationship with them needs to end.

The most important thing that a CIO needs to do is to make sure that you don’t lose touch with employees that have left your IT department. The reason for this is that when it comes time to find new employees, referrals from former employees can be a great way to find the best candidates.

If you are discovering that finding and hiring the right types of IT workers has become difficult, then taking the time to build a network of former IT workers might be well worth the effort. Hiring candidates that know what they are getting into means that you have a much better chance of them sticking around for the long haul.

There is a hidden benefit to taking the time to keep in touch with employees who have left the IT department. It turns out that just because somebody has left doesn’t mean that they won’t come back. Some firms have discovered that between 13-19% of the employees that leave eventually come back. It’s numbers like that that can put a smile on a CIO’s face.

What All Of This Means For You

One of the jobs a CIO does is to attract the best and the brightest IT workers to come work for your company. Considering the importance of information technology, this may be one of a CIOs most important jobs. The best way to make this happen is to make sure that the “word on the street” about your company is that it’s a great place to work.

If employees are leaving your firm and they are unhappy when they walk out the door, then you’ve got a problem. They’ll tell their friends not to go to work for your company. This is going to make recruiting and hiring the best IT workers that much harder to do.

CIOs who realize this can take action to ensure that former employees are speaking well of the company by taking the time to stay in touch with high-value employees after they have left the firm. Doing this can often result in them returning or recommending the firm to their friends.

An IT department is only as good as the employees who work in it – that’s part of the definition of information technology. It’s a CIOs job to make sure that former employees talk well of the company and ensure that recruiting future employees will be that much easier.

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Department Leadership Skills™

Question For You: Do you think that a CIO should communicate directly with former employees or should someone else handle this task?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

The world is a very dangerous place. Your IT department has lots and lots of data on its computers that bad people would like to get their hands on. Thank goodness your company has taken care to secure every way that there is for outsiders to get into your company’s network. Oh, wait a minute. Maybe there’s one way that hasn’t been secured – you!

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