What keeps CIOs and CTOs up at night? Finding and keeping the best talent. In the highly competitive technology industry, top performers can be hard to find and even harder to keep—a real nightmare. But it doesn’t have to be. All you need to do is understand what these sought-after employees want from their jobs and deliver it. So what are these things? Let’s take a look.

Usually the knee-jerk reaction to solving a hiring and retention problem is “give them more money!” While compensation is important to prospects for any position, this isn’t necessarily what keeps tech employees engaged with their company. After all, most employers understand that good compensation is necessary to attract the best talent, so these employees are confident that they can make a good salary wherever they go.

A good benefits package will bolster the appeal of your company, but there’s something that’s even more important to employees. What’s this dreamy perk they’re after? It’s culture. In fact, Glassdoor surveyed more than 1,400 software engineers to learn about their job-seeking plans, why’d they’d be most likely to leave their employer and what they wish recruiters did differently. The survey found that 52 percent of engineers would actually take less money to work in a great culture or for an awesome brand.

Today’s employees want to work for a good company. A fun company. A company that cares about them—from their professional development to their work-life balance. Respondents to the Harris Allied Tech Hiring and Retention Survey for 2017 identified what they think contributes to an exceptional corporate culture:

  • 4 percent said they wanted to work in an environment that is creative, inspiring, and fun.
  • 8 percent wanted their employer to be an innovative industry leader.
  • 6 percent felt it is important to have the chance to work on interesting projects.

The same survey also showed that corporate culture plays a critical role in employee retention. Nearly 26 percent of survey respondents said that people left their company for more exciting opportunities and the chance to work with new technology. 16.7 percent said they thought they’d lost talent because their corporate culture was very challenging.

Shifting Your Culture

So, how can you make your culture more appealing to candidates and fulfilling for your employees? An easy place to start is to look at the benefits you’re providing to your employees. Are they able to balance their work life with their home life? Are they taking time off? What extra perks could you offer that would appeal to them? Some organizations pay for or partially subsidize gym memberships. Others pick a recurring day to bring in lunch, or even coffee and donuts. Tune in to what your employees appreciate and deliver it.

Another simple thing to do is to take a look at your office space. Does it encourage productivity and creativity? Does it feel welcoming and like a second home for your employees? Does it fit the collective personality of your workforce and feel like it’s part of your brand? When employees feel good about being at work, they’re more likely to do good work.

Another aspect of your company’s environment is how your team operates. What do you do to squelch negativity before it spreads? How do you handle toxic employees? Do your team members feel appreciated? Do you recognize their contributions? Think of ways you could improve in these areas.

Help Employees Grow

Most companies provide technology-based training. While these very specific types of classes are often necessary to help keep employees current with the latest advances in technology, it’s not the only type of training employees need to grow in their jobs—and as a part of your organization. To truly engage your workforce, help your employees fully understand your business. It’s important for them to understand how all parts of your business work together and to see how their contributions affect the company as a whole. When they see the big picture—your customers, products, operations, etc.—they feel connected and also able to communicate with other team members outside of the technology arena.

One teaching technique technology organizations use takes the idea of learning about the organization as a whole even further. They will actually rotate employees in and out of different areas of the company so they can learn hands-on. This is the perfect way to prime future managers who understand your company and can put themselves in other employees’ positions.

While you want your employees to be well-versed and immersed in your company, it’s critical to give them the means to participate in industry-related groups where they can learn from peers and feel connected to the technology community in your area as well.

Provide Continuous Feedback

Employees want more than just an annual review. Today’s professionals want regular feedback on their performance. They want to know what they’re doing well, where then need to improve, and what their career path looks like. It’s also very important for them to have chances to interact with company leaders to learn and to be motivated.

While we’re talking about motivation, talented tech employees need mental stimulation. While some work may be draining and/or monotonous, bright workers like to break things up or recharge with new challenges and projects that they consider fun. Feeding your employees passions only makes them value your company more, and makes your company more valuable to your clients and your industry. According to a survey by TINYPulse, organizations with a strong learning culture are 92 percent more likely to develop novel products and processes.

Live the Dream

In today’s society, people spend AT LEAST a third of their lives at work. If they aren’t feeling appreciated and like they’re in a good place, they will be looking elsewhere and you’ll be living a retention nightmare. By focusing on making your organization a coveted, rewarding place to work, you’ll be living the dream of recruiting and keeping the best talent on your staff.