The Growing Tech Retention Threat: Employee Mistreatment

employee satisfaction survey

By Shannon Vize, Content Strategist at Mondo, an Addison Group company

An interesting and somewhat jarring report focused on why tech employees voluntarily leave their jobs was recently released by the Ford Foundation and Kapor Center for Social Impact. It’s an alarming report on the initial read, but its main point is more positive with a focus on how to improve diversity and tech retention rates across the industry. To do so, we all must better understand what is driving top tech talent away, especially diverse tech talent, and what steps can be taken to build and retain more satisfied, effective, and diverse tech teams.

To help you better understand what could be contributing to the high turnover in tech and how you can go from being part of the problem to part of the solution for the larger tech community, we identified the top insights from the report and provide possible solutions on how to eliminate the most significant tech retention threat to your workforce: employee mistreatment.

The Impact of Employee Mistreatment on Tech Retention

Thanks to the first-of-its-kind report by Kapor, entitled “Tech Leavers Study,” we now know employee mistreatment is the driving force behind why many tech employees voluntarily chose to leave their highly paid jobs. The report surveyed around 2,000 current and former tech employees on why they voluntarily left jobs in tech and provides a first-ever look at the true causes of decreased retention rates in tech as compared to other industries.

Here are the main takeaways:

  • Workplace experiences in tech differ dramatically by race, gender, and social orientation.
  • Mistreatment, identified in the survey as discrimination, sexual harassment, bullying, and unfair people management, is the main cause of turnover in tech.
  • Conservative estimates put the cost of employee mistreatment alone at $16B annually.
  • Diversity in tech will remain impossible unless mistreatment of employees is addressed and solved.

Here are additional stats from the report that showcase the experience of tech employees:

  • 37% of respondents cited mistreatment or unfairness as their reason for leaving.
  • 78% reported they had experienced some form of mistreatment.
  • 85% reported they witnessed unfair treatment happen to a co-worker.
  • LGBTQ employees are especially likely to quit jobs because of bullying in the workplace.
    • This group was the most likely to be bullied (20%) and experience public humiliation or embarrassment (24%) at work.
    • 64% reported bullying contributed to their decision to leave their employer.
  • Women in tech are two times as likely to quit as men, while Latino and black employees are 3.5 times as likely to quit as their white or Asian colleagues.
  • 1 in 10 women reported experiencing unwanted sexual attention at work.

These stats highlight a core problem in the way we look at talent diversity in tech. Previously, it was believed there simply wasn’t enough specialized tech talent stateside for companies to be able to hire a diverse tech workforce, which is a problem that would take decades to resolve by improving tech education programs and funding for these programs.

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