AA Spark: Attracting and Retaining Top Talent to the Ann Arbor Region

Ann Arbor continues to receive accolades as a great place to live and work. When it comes to attracting and retaining high-performing talent, the results from a recent survey of the region’s technology and software companies highlight compensation practices, trends, and opportunities that are common here. More than 65 Ann Arbor area technology companies responded to a survey conducted by the Workforce Intelligence Network for Southeast Michigan (WIN) in partnership with Ann Arbor SPARK. The survey covered topics such as company size, employee roles, worker compensation, compensation of executive talent, and employee turnover. WIN and SPARK used the results of the survey to draw conclusions on salaries in the tech industry, which can inform compensation decisions at the individual company level. Job seekers may also find the data useful when evaluating offers and during compensation negotiations.

IT’S NOT JUST ABOUT EXPERIENCE AND EDUCATION

Ann Arbor tech companies value factors beyond the basics like years of experience, education, and programming languages when hiring tech employees. Other considerations include cultural fit, market-specific project experience, and soft skills. Most companies surveyed offer traditional compensation and benefits, like salary and vacation time. Other less traditional benefits are offered more frequently when employees negotiate for more professional development opportunities or flex time, for example. Many tech companies also see their flexible and casual work environments and social events as a benefit to employees. Other popular non-traditional benefits include snacks, parking and transit subsidies, and gym memberships.

SALARIES VARY ACROSS SKILLSETS AND COMPANY SIZE

Salaries vary most widely in the technical management and software engineering skill sets. Wage discrepancies across companies surveyed can often be attributed to the company’s age or size. Software engineers and executives at startup tech companies often make lower wages than they would at more established companies.

ANN ARBOR TECH TALENT IS “STICKY”

Most companies (81 percent) did not cite employee turnover as a struggle. Pay and benefits, fit with company culture, and room for growth were among the most common factors cited by employees leaving the companies.

TALENT ATTRACTION IS THE MOST FREQUENTLY CITED CONCERN

Throughout the survey, the most frequently cited concern was the need to attract more talent to the region. Competition for existing talent within the region was noted regarding both salaries and turnover. This was sometimes due to industry specialization (biotech, DevOps, gaming engines) and competition from larger companies.

CONCLUSION

The Ann Arbor technology industry has grown substantially in the past 10 years. As the ecosystem continues to evolve and expand, so too will the market for tech talent. While national comparisons can help benchmark Ann Arbor against national or city-specific averages, examining regional compensation practices, trends, and opportunities is beneficial when examining the local talent marketplace. FULL STORY AND GRAPHICS MORE FOR AA SPARK

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