How to Close the Back Door on Technology Turnover

Kim Turnage Kim Turnage

December 06, 2017 Blog Leadership

Technology recruiting is some of the most challenging work in the recruiting industry. A lot of technology candidates won’t even reply to an email or take a phone call from someone they don’t know personally. With unemployment hitting historically low rates, this challenge will only grow. Getting good technology talent in the front door is hard, and losing technology talent is expensive, with the cost of turnover estimated at 6-9 months of salary. If you’re smart, you’ll be figuring out how to keep the back door tightly closed.

Let’s study the nature of that back door for a moment. Why do technology workers leave?

A recent study from the Kapor Center for Social Impact found that unfair treatment is the single largest driver of turnover in technology. Whether people experience unfairness directly or witness it directed toward their co-workers, toxic cultures marked by unfair treatment drive good people away. And that unfairness-based turnover is a disease that costs the industry $16 billion a year.

Closing the back door tightly on technology turnover will optimize productivity and profitability for a company, and it starts with eradicating the toxic cultures of unfair treatment that drive people away.


If you want to cure a disease, you must do more than treat its symptoms. You must get to the root cause. Where do toxic cultures come from? What causes them? Who defines organizational culture?

Leaders and managers.

When managers and leaders treat employees unfairly – or even condone unfair treatment doled out by someone else – they create toxic work cultures.

Leaders and managers, then, are quite literally patient zero on tech turnover. Start there to cure the disease.

The cure is simple. Make people significant. Make people the highest priority for every manager, every leader and the organization as a whole. It starts with managers and leaders. Here are some very specific ways to address this issue:

  • Select managers and leaders who genuinely care about people.
  • Create metrics that recognize and reward managers for helping the people on their teams succeed and grow. This makes people development an organizational priority.
  • Encourage managers to accept people as they are, celebrate their differences and focus on their strengths.
  • Institutionalize an individualized approach. Make diversity and inclusion real by teaching managers to treat each person as an individual, not as a stereotyped member of some group.
  • Mandate equality of opportunity with performance as the only differentiator.
  • Give managers freedom to make things fair, even if that means making exceptions. When people encounter exceptional circumstances, they might require exceptional responses. Exceptional responses are likely to be different (not equal) for different people. But in a culture of fair treatment, everyone can expect that managers will extend an exceptional response that fits their exceptional circumstance.

That’s a list of six specific strategies for closing the back door on technology turnover by addressing unfairness. It’s the right thing to do for your people and for the health of your business. Have you seen other strategies work? Please share them in a comment!

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