Retention Strategies for Technology-Based Organizations
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High-tech consulting firms are in fierce competition with one another to get these highly sought after intellectual assets – the smart young techies. These firms go to great lengths to attract and to maintain these highly sought after resources; retention is a focus area for many of the human resource departments. Public records show successful firms, such as Accenture, Booz | Allen | Hamilton (BAH), and Science Application International Corporation (SAIC) as having turnover rates well below the national average of 20 percent. So what are these firms doing that make them so successful?

In this paper, we will identify the positive attributes that have contributed to retention, show the significance within the three high-tech consulting firms, present publically released statistics on each of the companies, temper these statistics with privately gathered data for the purpose of analysis, and provide a logical conclusion as to why the successful firms are successful. The agreement with the authors of this paper and the interviewees is that the non-publically released data will be used for academic purposes only.

High-tech consulting firms have a “dirty little secret”; they calculate retention rates to show the best possible results and they downplay the issues they are having with attracting and retaining technically qualified and highly motivated you minds. On the surface these firms appear to have things under control; they boast of below national average turnover rates and about how great their companies are to work for – but a closer look at these sites and you will quickly realize that there is a tremendous effort focused towards recruiting potential employees going way beyond what first meets the eye. The chart below is just a snapshot of the focused marketing developed into these sites; oddly enough there is not a huge difference between them. A more in-depth discussion will follow.

Value Employees

Best People

Core Values


Supportive Work Environment

Mentor Program

Flexible Work Arrangement

Competitive Benefits


Community Involvement

Accenture has approximately 170,000 professionals in 49 countries and works with clients in nearly every major industry worldwide, including 91 of the Fortune Global 100, two-thirds of the Fortune Global 500 and multiple government agencies around the world. In 2006 Accenture added 43,000 new employees and spent almost $700 million on training. (2006 Annual report) Finding published turnover rates for Accenture has proven impossible, but unofficially we have been told the rate is slightly below the industry average.

Accenture is able to retain their employees because they have interesting work, good benefits, and the pride of working at one of the worlds leading consulting firms. Where do you go after working at Accenture, there is no other IT consulting firm held in higher regard. Also, Accenture has a history of technology innovation and spends approximately $250 million on research and development each year. The pace at Accenture and the size and variety of projects they take on create a truly dynamic environment.

Accenture also recognizes that people have different priorities in their lives at different times. So they offer a flexible approach that encourages the employee to strike the right balance between work and personal life. Accenture offers their employees a “Total Rewards” package. In addition to basic compensation or salary, this also includes a range of other market-relevant benefits and professional growth opportunities that recognize individual contributions and performance.

The results speak for themselves (Accenture, 2007):

Accenture recruited more than 43,000 people in 2006.

Accenture was the 49th strongest global brand, according to Business Week.

Accenture was ranked 379th in the 2006 Business Week, up 76 places from 2005.

Accenture was ranked as the No. 1 Information Technology Services company by Fortune magazine for the third year running.

Accenture was ranked No. 1 outsourcing provider among customers by InformationWeek.

Accenture was ranked the No. 1 HR outsourcing provider by both IDC and the Human Resources Outsourcing Association.

Accenture was ranked 14th in Business Weeks 2006 Infotech 100.
Accenture offers their highest performing employees the chance to work on a sabbatical at half pay for up to a year. The employee must have worked at Accenture for two years and have excellent performance reviews in order to be eligible to participate in the program. These programs strengthen the feeling of loyalty felt by the employee to the company and help the employee feel good about their contribution to something greater than just earning a salary. Accentures program is similar to the practice at many law firms to donate lawyers time to pro bono projects for clients who otherwise couldnt pay. Accenture wanted the program to support itself. To make this possible, Accenture uses a formula where employees take 50% pay cuts, clients pay small fees, and the firm forgoes its usual profit. Accenture launched the program in 2003; and by July 2006, roughly 50 employees are participating in the program.

Accenture offers other programs to encourage retention. They encourage the building of Accenture communities to encourage a sense of belonging and community in the Accenture way of life. Accenture also uses networking to encourage this sense of community. People with common interests, such as project management or business process

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