Why culture is so important in the tech industry

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Despite the unprecedented growth, the tech industry has experienced in recent years, it’s no secret the industry suffers from a talent shortage problem.

Even more problematically, not only do tech companies frequently struggle to attract the right people, but they also struggle to hold onto them when they do – technology has one of the highest employee turnover rates of any industry, with a churn rate of 13.2%.

Mike Newman, CEO My1Login explains that the shift to remote working, stress and burnout have persisted as significant problems for tech employees, and that could be a big part of the problem. Far from alleviating the stresses of the workplace, working from home has exacerbated many of these problems – 61% of tech workers say that their stress levels have been rising since working remotely – a figure that’s twice as high as entry-level roles in other industries.

One factor driving this is the increased blurring of the lines between work and home life, which can increase work-related stress if employers do little to discourage it. Tech employees are working four more hours a week and sending 8% more emails outside business hours than before the pandemic. Without significant downtime and a feeling of always being at work, it’s no surprise that burnout is increasingly common. Clearly, for many companies, the current model isn’t working – and something needs to change.

The importance of culture

The opportunities for remote work to deliver a better work-life balance for employees in the tech sector are numerous – but no matter how we adjust policies or develop new technologies to improve efficiency in hybrid working environments, the culture driving the decisions has to be aligned. Culture is not something written down – it’s something that’s lived day-to-day, and senior management needs to lead from the front.

A strong culture in the tech industry that aligns the views of employees with that of the business benefits all stakeholders. Employees feel more wanted and happier to sign in each day, managers find their teams more motivated and productive, and the organisation is likely to benefit from easier talent recruitment and lower employee turnover rates.

Lower churn rates not only help with recruitment costs, but also keep employees working together, fostering a team spirit, and ensuring an open and inclusive working environment. If employees find themselves constantly working with new colleagues, it becomes far harder for them to gel as a team, longer-term projects become disjointed and fragmented, and innovation is negatively impacted.

How to foster a successful culture in tech

The changes that can be made to corporate culture start with the individual. Working from a home environment, some blurring of the lines between home and work life is inevitable – many employees find themselves having to look after children, or otherwise dealing with more personal issues during work hours than they would in an office environment. A business culture that understands this, and allows employees flexibility during the working day is essential to reducing the stress of juggling responsibilities.

The culture should also ensure employees are maintaining a healthy work-life balance and taking sufficient time off. Some organisations actively encourage employees to use up all their holidays each year, to ensure employees have the necessary time away from work. It can also even extend down to small issues, such as ensuring lunch hours are respected, and nobody is expected to be active or respond to messages during their break. Some companies may even consider a mentorship role, where employees have recourse to an individual outside of their team, who can check in and ensure that the employee’s needs, not directly relating to work matters, are being met.

As well as looking after individual needs, ensuring that people feel part of the business, as an owner and collaborator rather than just an employee, helps increase retention. Granting share options as part of remuneration packages ensures that everybody is invested in the company, and profits collectively when the business performs. Even small benefits help here – cycle to work schemes and season ticket loans are useful benefits, especially when it comes to transitioning to a hybrid work model after extensive remote working.

Enterprises should also be alert to any potential changes that may have significant effects on the personal circumstances of the workforce. Right from the start of the pandemic, here at My1Login we actively encouraged our people to set a routine, staying mentally and physically active, and encouraging cameras to be turned on during team calls to foster face-to-face engagement – all of which helped mitigate challenges faced with remote working.

For all of this to happen, it’s imperative senior management lead by example. Cultivating workaholic personalities, sending emails after office hours and on weekends, and rarely taking time off are all practices that can make employees feel that they can only progress their careers by following this lead.

Culture is not something written down in a document – it’s something that is lived every day. Only if the leadership provide an exemplar for these behaviours and lead from the front, can this positive culture take root and thrive within a business.

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