Employee turnover is never fun. I feel the pressure professionally when we have to redistribute workloads, and I feel the loss personally when I stop seeing a colleague who I consider a friend each day. Like any change in life, it’s a little daunting but also full of potential. Hopefully it’s a sign that you’ve been taking the right steps leading this team member up to this moment. That maybe you’re hiring the right people. Maybe you’ve helped them get to a point where they feel confident to tackle a new challenge.
People move around a lot today, especially in the IT industry. Reports from last year’s PayScale survey show that tech companies experience the highest turnover of Fortune 500 companies. You could easily speculate on the reasons why. Of course, each person and each company is different.
One of the more interesting reasons to me is when people leave because they’ve uncovered a new specialty within Technology. You don’t really know what interests you have until you experience it first-hand. Or sometimes, your interests change throughout your career. For example, some of our Springthrough developers really enjoy working with mobile applications. I try to match those people with the mobile projects that clients bring us. However in one scenario, as someone learned more about the different specialties within mobile apps, he developed an interest in mobile gaming more specifically. At Springthrough, that type of work doesn’t come up as frequently as other projects. In the end, our team member found another job where he could work solely on a mobile gaming project. We were sad to see him go. It was tough to lose a talented developer and a valuable contributor to our company culture. But I also felt happy he could pursue a passion; a passion in which, I like to think, our company helped him find.
That passion marks exactly the type of person we look for at Springthrough. It is one of our company values. Pair that up with our values of Learning and Action, we should only expect that the people who match our values continue to develop themselves. Sometimes they grow with Springthrough, and sometimes they grow in another direction. When I see a developer pursue a specific area that means a lot to them, I feel like we’ve hired someone who matches our values down to their core, not just in their workplace behavior.
One of our recent departures was a talented developer who moved away to support his wife’s career. We worked with him throughout that process, relying on technology to support remote working. But he ultimately took a job near his new home to get that personal connection at work. I was sad to see him go – we had grown a lot together in our time at Springthrough – but I knew that he was making good decisions for himself and his family.
We incorporate several concepts from the Netflix Culture Deck into our own company.
For the time that an employee is with us, we want to help them grow. Even if that means at some point they may outgrow us. We try to give them projects that are challenging and align with their interests. We also build personal relationships which makes the times when we lose someone even tougher.
Through those relationships we share knowledge and experience. I’ve spent many years in the development community in Grand Rapids, a close-knit group. I try to use that experience to offer knowledge to developers early in their careers. For example, if they want to stay in Grand Rapids, many of the jobs here require knowledge of .NET development. I can offer them that knowledge and experience, which makes someone a more valuable candidate in the market.
While I hope this sort of relationship helps the individual, it also helps Springthrough. People will leave, but when they do, we want them to speak highly of us. We want them to look back on their time here fondly – with relationships, opportunities to grow, and a learning experience. Each person is a potential ambassador for our organization within the community. That word-of-mouth reputation can’t be beat. It helps us connect with prospective team members and prospective clients.
Of course, each departure is different. With each one, we ask what could we have done different? What could we have done better? We continue to seek ways to improve our culture and the experience of a Springthrough team member. We value "radical candor" that challenges us to be better, but sometimes, people feel the most comfortable to speak candidly when they are leaving a workplace. So we look at each departure as an excellent opportunity for self-reflection and change. But as of late, we have also tried to think about departures in a new light. One where we can be happy for people who are growing and have allowed Springthrough to be a part of that journey.
At Springthrough we are passionate about our jobs, but we are also passionate about people. So while we may have to replace skillsets, we can’t replace the personalities who have contributed to the identity of Springthrough.