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20% – 22% IT Staff Turnover – What does this mean?

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According to the 2018 PECS IT Salary Survey[1] released in July 2019, IT staff turnover amongst the participating organisations was 20% across the board and 22% IT Staff Turnover in the “professional” band.  What does this mean?

To transcribe that picture, if 2019 is anything like 2018, it means 1 in 5 people around you at the start of the year, will not be there at the end of the year.  It means that more than 1 person per Scrum team of 8, will leave the organisation.  Taking with them the knowledge and skills that they have built up in your organisation as input to the organisation that they are moving to.

From a money perspective, it means, on average, a financial loss of just under R1million per person.  That cost includes, separation costs, replacement costs, training costs, and loss of productivity costs – most of which are unbudgeted costs in most organisations.

Why are we not asking this question?

So, that’s the What!  But, what about the Why?  And here’s the problem!  I could not find very little recent research relating to why employees leave.  In other words, there doesn’t seem to be much research since 2014 or 2015.  That means, we are not researching why employee leave organisations that have been, or are still going, through Agile transformation.  What is even more frightening is, we appear to still be using research that is, at best, outdated for the world of work today, and, at worst, downright misleading.

Some, relevant, answers!

The most recent research on this topic, and what appears to be most relevant, was in 2018 and was undertaken by BreatheHR[2], and ScienceForWork[3], and in 2017 by Harvard Business Review[4], Forbes[5].

The summary of “Why People Leave” from these different articles is:

  1. The job is not enjoyable. They don’t believe that their strengths are being properly utilised, and they are tired of arguing their positions.  They are tired of being overlooked and ignored and feel that they have big ideas they want to put into practice, but the organisation is too slow-moving to let them do it
  2. Limited or no career opportunities. They want to grow in their careers and move around faster than the organisation’s structure, culture and policies allow them to do.  They want to change career paths, but there’s no apparent way to do it in the organisation
  3. Overwhelmed with work. They feel exhausted, stressed, and fed up with internal politics
  4. The lack confidence in leadership. They don’t have faith in the leader’s ability to run the organisation effectively.  They believe that the organisation lacks a positive atmosphere and does not display fairness.  Leaders don’t provide feedback or autonomy and don’t involve them in decisions.
  5. They’re offered more money. They are underpaid relative to the market, or underpaid relative to what they could earn somewhere else, and there is demand for their skills in the market
  6. They want to work for themselves. They believe that all the above factors are holding them back and that self-employment can better address their needs

Whose Problem is This?

A lot is happening in organisations that go through Agile Transformation.  And there is much work being done by Knowledge Resources and others to address the gaps.  But, with the best will in the world, these cannot push change on organisations.

We attend conferences and training programs, but 2 days at a conference or in training cannot and does not create the shift needed.  They can only inform you of what needs to change, and what it takes to change.  And, Ebbinghaus’ Forgetting Curve reminds us that we can lose up to 60% just 1 day after the learning.

HR’s problem

I believe that HR are floundering, trying to implement old-style HR policies and practices in new workplaces – not all, but many.  At a recent conference, half of the HR people present claimed that they are working in Agile organisations.  Yet not one had actually read any of the Agile Manifestos.  I’m not blaming them, with attrition this high, there are many pressures on HR people to manage legal risks and locate and onboard new employees.  That task in itself can be overwhelming.

But someone has to step up.  Someone has to take the lead and direct HR to be able to properly support Agile organisations, and this might well mean that HR policies and practices need to change.  Not revamped – changed!

Leadership’s problem

I believe management (leaders) are in denial – not all, but many.  They really don’t see why their management style needs to change.  They don’t understand the impact that this style is having on employees – and employee turnover.  We’ve all heard that people leave managers.  This is happening, but differently to expectations.  People leave because management have failed to put practices in place that engage employees and make them feel valued members of the organisation.

Someone has to step up.  Someone has to take the lead and develop a new style of management through all levels of leadership in the organisation.  Not just coaching – a new style of leadership.

Next up

In the next blog we will look at what actions can be taken to resolve some of these problems and bring the employee attrition rate to a level more acceptable and sustainable for the organisation.

In the meantime, if you would like to talk to us about our program to develop Agile People Management in your organisation, please contact us.


At TalentAlign we strive to work with organisations to create a workplace where people and the organisation grow and thrive together, and achieve their highest selves.

Using our CORE Agile People Management framework – either in the form of an online program, or an inhouse facilitated program, we:

  • Empower people to adopt the flexible, fluid, customer-focused mindset of modern companies
  • Help leaders to inspire their workers and strengthen their organisation
  • Empower employees to become motivated stakeholders
  • Adopt people management practices that value diversity, attitude, behaviour, and competence
  • Create a passionate, loyal, and “talent-ful” workforce

[1] PECS 2019 IT Salary Survey –