The Impact of Corporate Environment on Talent Retention in the IT Industry

The recent development strategy of Vietnam aims in achieving effective economic growth and has been directed towards the sustainability of the SMEs. However, as Vietnam is still in its infancy stage of development, the SMEs, in particular, suffer from a severe lack of competitiveness in the international arena, and thus they are still unable to cope with the pressures posed by the world markets. This is mainly due to a lack of skilled human resources. Vietnam has invested a great deal in the development of its IT industry and needs to further invest in the Human development sector of the industry to actually enter into the International arena.

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Competition in the modern era is becoming severe, especially with the downfall of the stock market, and the IT industry is no exception. This is coupled with the increasing number of retirements that have threatened the industries and has caused them to focus on the industry’s internal issues, like a conducive work environment in order to attract and retain their employees.

Organizational culture depicts its standards of customs that it has been following for a long period successfully. Employees usually tend to follow the trends in the organization, as they feel more secure; they fear change. However, for progression and advancement, this stereotypic approach should be discouraged, and individualization should be promoted so that changes are brought about in the organization. Changes and new ideas should be encouraged, only then will the employees be able to bring in their creative thoughts for the progress of the industry.

Corporate culture consists of a formal, informal and social network, and thus all three sectors should be compatible and accessible for the employee. The quantity of work given in any of these three areas will direct towards the employees’ performance, and thus he will be satisfied. This positive environment will yield to the organization’s as well as the employees’ personal growth and development. In a survey conducted by Curtis (2006), he demonstrates that 65% of employees in a well-reputed firm were unsatisfied by the ethics or moral codes being practiced. He elaborated further to explain that in blue-collar jobs, 31% of employees are discouraged from bringing in their own new ideas. This leads to a high percentage of employees leaving a job, as he is constantly being pressurized by his colleagues and management to exercise the principles of the company that has been followed for ages.

Employees tend to be encouraged by a good organizational development that provides them with a higher quality of work life. As shown by Barbara (2004), it is mandatory for organizations to attract, develop and retain their employees. She has demonstrated that regular human-resourced development, minor skill development will result in better adaptation, and improved work quality, and retention. Her studies also exhibit the fact that corporate management should exhibit a cordial attitude and behavior, they should display a strong sense of work ethics, values and strategies, so that employees could be easily adapted to the organizations’ competitive needs.

Corporate cultures could be autocratic- where the management rules by authority and power, and draw their employees towards obedience. However, this is a negative approach, which will not result in retention, and employees will exhibit minimal performance. Custodial cultures- are known to be better in terms of employee retention and performance, as they get a sense of security due to the benefits provided, and thus, they work with passion. In a survey conducted in 1992 (Anonymous, 1992), it was revealed that employee dissatisfaction, opaque policies, uncompetitive benefits galvanized to an absence of a family-friendly approach led to a low retention rate. In a supportive organizational culture, the employees are constantly appreciated and their work is recognized, as there is leadership with managerial organization. Further findings in the study (Anonymous, 1992) suggest that ‘employees are generally hardworking but are more interested in pleasing their boss rather than pleasing their customers, and it has been proposed that a collegial type of a culture, which is an ideal one, should be adopted, in which the employees are drawn towards their respective jobs by responsible behavior and self-discipline. The employees get a sense of ‘self- actualization’ and exhibit an inbuilt drive of achieving their goals enthusiastically.

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The corporate culture of an organization should be strong in terms of its goals to attain higher productivity, and paradigms should be clearly depicted as proposed by Ian (1994) in his analysis. He suggests that organizations should set high and attainable goals for their employees to achieve, thus keeping them motivated to perform well. He also emphasizes the need for regular meetings, which should also be held on a regular basis to get feedback from the employees; by which the management could keep track of the staff’s performances. The staff should be rotated on their job structures, in order to break the monotony. Ian further suggests that multi-dimensional assignments are likely to yield productive results. Likewise, the complexity of an assignment is likely to result in lower productivity.

The IT industry is one in which employees are faced with a very high level of stress and this continuous and strenuous rigid work style, coupled with an unpleasant work environment can be hazardous for both the employee himself and also to the Industry, as it will face a continuous dilemma of hiring and re-hiring.

Strenuous work should be coupled to an extremely homely and conducive workplace (Ian, 1994). Only then will employees tend to enjoy their work, and perform with passion and determination, thus being productive for the industry. Christine (2000) depicts that mental harmony should prevail in organizations and that organizations like the IT sector should make sure each employee’s needs are catered for in detail. For example, precise details in an office, like its lighting, air-conditioning, heating, furniture, telegraphic facilities, and most importantly, a small coffee kiosk and a supply of cold water should be looked after. As Vietnam faces a tropical climate throughout the year, conditions in a workplace should be manipulated accordingly so that workers feel comfortable. Conditions tend to become humid, and thus proper ventilation and air conditioning should be maintained. Likewise, a dress code with light colors and loose clothes would be better instead of the formal tie-suit usually worn in corporate sectors. Although very petty, these minute details in a workplace can result in an immense difference in terms of the company’s productivity.

It has been shown in the studies conducted by Hetty et al (2004), that monetary benefits are not the only factor that draws people in the software industry. Other factors like a comfortable workplace, a friendly environment, a sense of achievement and constant appreciation coupled with a push to move forward, and development of the employees own interpersonal skills are some of the reasons people are drawn towards this industry.

A sense of actually doing something productive for an organization is a big motivational factor, and it keeps workers want to do work. Thus, regular assignments should be given to keep them engaged all the time (Francis, 1990). Likewise, they should be creative and innovative in their work. This would make them feel proud of their achievements, and they would want to work more, and ultimately become assets for the industry. Hetty (2004), in his studies, indicated that employees should not face a sense of emotional exhaustion, demoralization, or depersonalization in a work environment. They should be motivated and drawn towards their work, they should work with passion, and should want to work, not have to work.

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It does become essential sometimes to put in long work hours to get a particular job done on time. However, this should not be encouraged, and not made a practice, as it will result in peer-group pressure (Shelley, 1995), where the employees stay in for long unrealistic hours just to ‘please’ the higher-ups. A reasonable thirty-five-hour week should be practiced as has been depicted in a formidable research study conducted by Sharilyn (1999) and also by William in his studies (1984); where successful companies allow employees to adjust their work schedules to meet their family needs without endangering their careers.

In 2007, Joane showed in her research studies, that the ‘happiness’ factor of an employee is strongly related to home and work coordination. Thus, flexibility in employees’ office styles should be tolerated, as this ultimately yields good quality time and a happier and more efficient office worker; as then he would have relieved himself of his house chores. Her studies show that employees who had to show up at 9 in the morning, were prone to be in a greater stress condition, and likewise, were just waiting for the 5 pm clock to tick, so that they could rush out to perform their responsibilities, and were not as efficient at work either. Thus, corporates should have a good flexible work schedule if they expect progress.

As mentioned by Max (2001), employees should be actively engaged in ‘open communication’. Employees should be able to express themselves, and a cordial atmosphere with the management can generate ideas, coupled with honest and loyal workers. They should be encouraged not to conceal their mistakes. Especially in Vietnam, where in general, people are shy and don’t speak up, in the IT industry, they should be encouraged to have a sense of openness with their management.

Bhattacharya (2008), has quoted the President of SAS, “If you treat employees as if they make a difference to the company, they will make a difference to the company”. Bhattacharya has also mentioned well in his paper, that “employees are not ‘assets’—they are the only true values of the organization”, and cannot be treated as commodities”. Bhattacharya anticipated that leaders in organizations should not attract employees through high salaries, and demonstrated that companies which offered bonuses, were not so successful, as the overall approach of the worker changes. The employees worked only towards getting the bonus and tended to become materialistic. You have to actually create an environment where the employee would want to work in a loyal and honest way.

The cultural environment of the industry should be taken into deep consideration and it should be conducive to newcomers as well so that they could easily adapt themselves and be absorbed easily. This could be facilitated by the introduction of orientation programs, where the newcomers can be made aware of the traditional ways of the industry, and adapt themselves accordingly.

It was depicted in Richard’s paper (1986) that surveys conducted on regular basis were helpful in creating improved working styles. These surveys indicated “how the employees felt in the workplace, and questions about “fairness of opportunities for advancement”, if they felt a sense of trust in the workplace, how much they felt their work was being appreciated and recognized, and to what degree the employee confided in his management to actually resolve his issues”, were asked. These surveys could be conducted on a periodic basis with the condition of anonymity. He showed in his paper that in successful IT companies, such surveys were conducted on regular basis.

Christine (2000) explains in her paper the need for effective “top-down” organizational change in the software industry. She demonstrated that it was essential that the top management should also yield conducive attitudes and have a soft approach towards its employees. The management should be polite, courteous, and respect the integrity of its staff at all times. The attitude of the managerial staff was very important, and their tone should be soft but firm, body language should be good, their dress code, smiling faces, encouraging words, light jokes—all contributed towards a good environment. They should exhibit immaculate and exemplary behavior and should be following an ethical code of conduct, as they were the role models the massed staff was to follow. Christine stated that the overall behavior of the management was a major factor in establishing the environment of the industry, which in turn yielded a healthy workplace where employees would always love to work. The management staff’s values and standard of behavior tend to reflect the overall objective of an organization.

Suggestion boxes also proved to be important sources in getting feedback from employees for improving the overall working environment. In this way, the staff is directly involved in decisions made, and they tend to ‘feel important, and this sense of feeling important itself is an important motivational source and yields in job satisfaction. Employee empowerment is enhanced, thus giving a psychological edge to them in uplifting their spirits and morals in a workplace. The staff should be quick to respond to the stimulus of the industry demands. (Womack et al. 1990) mentioned in his paper that, “employee empowerment systems such as this require the trust of coworkers in the entire organization and allow people to develop the “skills” of a responsible citizen”. For a sound corporate culture, employees should profess highly aesthetic and moral standards in terms of their beliefs, ideas, values, and goals.

A very common phenomenon observed in corporate cultures is the stereotype approach in following a company’s trends that have been followed for a long time. “Groupthink” was described by Irving L. Janis. He defined it as “a quick and easy way to refer to a mode of thinking that people engage when they are deeply involved in a cohesive in-group when members’ strivings for unanimity override their motivation to realistically appraise alternatives of action.” In this condition, the employees usually don’t challenge the management even if they differ in opinions, and are not encouraged to be innovative. This takes place when employees want to retain the values that are inbuilt in an organization, or when he thinks that change in values or introduction of new ideas could result in a conflict, and they don’t want to be labeled as a negative influence.

Coye (1986) suggests that “it is important to incorporate ethical considerations into performance evaluation systems”. A sense of honesty should exist, and employees should be dedicated and loyal to their workplace, which can only be imparted through a continuous and effective motivational drive. Employees can also be motivated through appreciation in terms of monetary and psychological rewards. They could be given incentives, and this should be galvanized to team efforts instead of individual performances (Hackman, 1980) as aspirational behavior in an organization is a key factor, (Mitchell and Oneal, 1994) to its overall success.

Thus, it can be concluded that a healthy work environment and a good corporate culture will definitely yield better company profiles, as even in this modern era, people in developing countries like Vietnam are not so materialistic, they prefer healthy work environments where they could actually enjoy their work, and perform better, rather than going home with full pockets, but in conditions of stress. A healthy and cordial environment shared by employees is galvanized to their productivity, and is the essence of an industry’s success, as the employees will work with passion—and result in a successful enterprise.

Vietnam is still in its struggling period and definitely has the potential to roar and establish a successful IT industry and compete with the International giants to meet the ever-rising market demands.

References

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