man with computerBy Melissa J. Anderson

In an industry with notoriously high turnaround, convincing top employees to stick around can be difficult. Judy White, writing for CIO Insight has identified a few of the reasons that IT employees can jump ship – including failing to ask for input, disregarding management needs, and not taking action on the findings revealed by those countless engagement surveys.

White explained that, often, employee retention rests on “soft side of management.” She writes:

“Since engagement is rooted in relationships, it is not something that can be mandated, forced, or trained in a seminar. Building a community based on effective two-way communication — where there is open, honest exchange of ideas, information and learning — is central for engaging IT professionals. It’s equally important to empower your IT professionals through continuous learning, not only about the tech choices that are available, but also about the business environment in which their users operate.”

Strengthening workplace relationships and focusing on learning and development are key to staff retention in any industry. What are some ways today’s top companies are working to keep their high performers on board?

1. Cutting Edge Flexwork Programs

Cisco has long been praised for its forward attitude toward flex work programs (it doesn’t hurt that the company creates the technical equipment making teleworking possible). This year is no different. In its recently released Corporate Social Responsibility Report [PDF], the company outlines how its employees are encouraged to take advantage of flex and teleworking.

According to the report “95 percent of [Cisco’s] employees occasionally telecommute or use flextime,

two of [the company’s] flexible work practices that support a better work/life balance.”

2. Focusing on Employee Family and Wellness Benefits

Microsoft goes above and beyond the status quo in family and wellness benefits, even offering elder care services.

Additionally, parental leave in the US is well above the national average, with Microsoft offering new fathers four weeks of paid leave and eight weeks of paid leave for mothers who have just given birth.

Also, according to the Detroit Free Press, “Employees get $800 annually to be used for a gym membership or home fitness equipment. There are flexible work hours, adoption assistance, telecommuting options, job sharing, tuition assistance and generous matching charitable donations for each employee.”

Microsoft’s generous family-friendly benefits might be an indication of a broader HR strategy indicating the type of employee they are working to attract – settled-down family types who are less likely to switch jobs at the drop of a hat.

3. Cold Hard Cash

Last month, Google announced it would give all of its employees a 10% raise – and a holiday bonus. “Let me say, on behalf of everyone on the management team, that we believe we have the best employees in the world,” said Google’s CEO Eric Schmidt in an internal staff memo leaked to BusinessInsider.

According to PCMag, the raise is about more than just being nice. An anonymous Google spokesperson told the magazine, “While we don’t typically comment on internal matters, we do believe that competitive compensation plans are important to the future of the company.”

While numerous studies have revealed that compensation is not the top way to boost employee engagement, the company-wide breadth of the raise does send a serious message to the competition (and the competition’s staff) about how the company values its employees.