Building up your tech talent in 2018 is a war, and hiring is only half the battle. Once you get the right people, you have to convince them to stick around.

Research indicates employers are aware of the need to focus on employee retention. In a November 2016 survey of 614 human resources executives by Kronos Inc. and Future Workplace, 87% of respondents said improving retention is a high or critical priority. Focusing on retention is the right move, in part because employees seem to feel confident about their ability to find new work.

In Glassdoor’s US Employment Confidence Survey for the first quarter of 2016, more than half (53%) of the more than 2,000 US adults surveyed said they believed that if they lost their jobs, they could find another one that matched their experience and desired compensation within six months. It was the second-highest level of confidence in the US job market that Glassdoor had found since it began the Employment Confidence Survey in 2009 — down from 54% in the third quarter of 2015 but up from 39% in the first quarter of 2009.

When it comes to retention strategies, employers may find fostering a culture of transparency can be just as valuable as offering generous compensation and benefits — and most companies face limits on the material and monetary rewards they can offer employees, anyway. And the workplace needs more of transparency: According to PDP Solutions, half of employees feel a lack of transparency is the main thing holding their company back.

Here’s a look at a few principles employers should keep in mind if they want to do a better job of attracting and retaining talented technology professionals.

Related Article: Why Self-Actualized Companies Achieve Higher Employee Satisfaction

Employees Can and Should Bring Their Whole Selves to Work

Employees will be more engaged if they feel they have autonomy and are more than just cogs in a machine. According to a study published in the Journal of Organizational Behavior, employees who have a greater sense of “psychological ownership” over their work also have higher levels of job satisfaction and commitment to their organizations.

Especially in big organizations, complex rules and micromanagement can prevent talented employees from doing their best work. When it feels like every element of a work environment is controlled, employees don’t feel they have room to be themselves. Policies and processes are important, but make sure they also allow room for employees to find what works for them.

Employee Referrals Are a Top Source of New Hires

Employee referrals account for 30% of all hires, according to SilkRoad, but tech companies should aim to make that number higher within their own workplaces. If a company has the right culture, employees will be eager to bring friends, family and acquaintances into the same environment. But they will be careful to only recommend those who are worthy, because they know their names are attached to the candidate.

While employee referrals are effective for bringing in quality candidates, take care to avoid accidentally building a homogenous workforce if diversity isn’t a strong point in your current team. Bringing aboard people from diverse backgrounds with diverse perspectives should always be a priority — and it will pay off for your organization’s success in the long run.

Learning Opportunities

Beyond referrals, rely on your employees to give an honest and candid view of the company culture when candidates come in to interview. They will value being part of the hiring process and will welcome the fact that they are trusted to represent the company from their own unique viewpoints — not just by parroting corporate propaganda.

Related Article: What it Takes to Create Exceptional Employee Experiences

Burdensome Busy Work Should Be Automated

Digital platforms can significantly boost employee engagement. By automating low-level tasks, companies can free up employees to use their skills and creativity more effectively.

However, the word “automation” will naturally make employees nervous because the specter of automation will make them worry about being replaced by robots. But automation doesn’t have to mean job elimination. It’s a tool to help people do their jobs better. Consider this: In a survey of 500 managers by West Monroe Partners, 23% of the respondents said they spend five or more hours on administrative tasks each day. That’s a waste of valuable time. Instead of mentoring direct reports or leading high-level projects, they’re forced to spend hours on tasks like approving time sheets, managing inboxes or filing expense reports.

Employees will embrace automation that relieves them of tedious tasks. However, it still pays to be totally clear and transparent about what an automation tool will and won’t do before implementing it. If employees feel that automated tools help them do a better job, they will take more pride in their work, and the cost of these tools will pay off in the form of improved productivity and engagement.

Your employees are your most valuable asset and, as a leader, making their work lives easier should be your top priority. Without your people, there is no product. Actively listening to your employees and making it clear that they are a priority will send the message that you value their skills and opinions and see them playing an integral role in your company’s journey. When this is the case, they will find it more difficult to leave — even if a higher salary and better benefits are waiting on the other side.

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