As the shortage of top tech talent enters another year, companies will continue to struggle to attract software developers. But getting them in through the door is only half the battle as you also have to find innovative ways to hold on to them.
As the technology space continues to go through a period of acceleration, IT teams can end up being significantly understaffed with low morale and productivity. So managers will be under even more pressure in 2018 to attract and retain the right people.
At Digi117, we have extensive experience in hiring and retaining some of the best software engineers on the planet. Over the years, we have developed some tried and tested strategies that have helped us achieve this amazing feat.
How did we do it? You’re about to find out our top five strategies to retain your best software developers.
1. Start Thinking About Retention During the Recruitment Phase
Before you start your next recruitment exercise, start thinking about the type of organizational culture and strategy that you would like to emphasize. Next, look for these qualities in your candidates.
According to Joel Grossman, co-founder of NumberAI and COO of Location Labs, you have to focus on employing promising candidates who are in it for the right reasons, not just the biggest paycheck. Once they’re in, you have to make a considerable effort to build mutual trust and loyalty.
To achieve this, start building a sense of community at the office that software engineers will want to belong to. One way to do this is by encouraging and maintaining open and transparent communication between software engineers and management that fosters a shared vision.
However, if they do leave, you have to extract the maximum feedback from these individuals and adapt your strategy accordingly.
2. Find out If They’re Happy in Your Workplace
If people are unhappy working for your company, you will quickly find out during exit interviews. Another indicator is referrals because when software developers are happy, they usually recommend their workplace to friends and acquaintances in their professional network.
While some do jump ship after having their head turned by a lucrative compensation package, happiness isn’t always about money. In fact, for the right role and challenge, a lot of developers will even switch jobs and take a pay cut.
It might also be a good idea to have an anonymous suggestion box to find out if your staff are unhappy long before they decide to leave. This will give you an opportunity to address these issues immediately to try and hold on to them.
3. HR and Managers Need to Understand What Software Developers Do
While it might be 2018, some organizations are still employing the wrong hiring practices. Some tend to follow outdated methodologies while others seem to completely misunderstand the fundamentals of the role.
When there’s a talent shortage, you can’t afford to mimic the hiring and management practices implemented for people in administrative or marketing disciplines. Software developers have a job that’s a unique combination of technical and creative nous and should be approached accordingly.
Additionally, if you trust them enough to hire them, you have to continue showing that trust once they start working for you. The process of software development is riddled with failure, so developers need to feel safe and supported by the rest of the team and the organization as a whole.
In our experience, successful software development teams succeed together and fail together (without a culture of blame). As this trust is nurtured, developers will also start proving themselves and exceeding your expectations.
4. Create a Clear Path to Advancement and Provide Ongoing Education
Developing a clear path to advancement starts with promoting from within whenever possible. While this won’t be as simple as offering a clear path to greater responsibility and compensation, it will help to build a sense of value among staff who feel like they’re playing a vital role in the company’s success.
At the same time, you have to provide opportunities for employees to continue to learn and develop. This can come in the form of tuition reimbursement and technology-related workshops. This will help your software development team members feel valued, important to and invested in the company.
In our experience, learning is at the core of building strong organizations. So whenever there are opportunities, we also try to integrate learning into every task or project to help encourage staff to dive in and keep learning and growing.
In an age of fierce competition, opportunities to learn can also be the differentiator that helps you retain intellectual property and top talent. This approach also creates opportunities for software engineers to stay top of the latest trends, stay engaged, stay invested in your business, and work towards their next promotion.
5. Put Your Data to Work
Big data is everywhere from professional sports to healthcare, so why not use it internally to your advantage?
Businesses today continuously generate an enormous amount of employee data. So this data can be analyzed to identify who is likely to leave and who is likely to stay. This means that companies now have an opportunity to take preventative steps to make them stay.
Data analytics also sheds light on factors that aren’t obvious. For example, you might notice that developers tend to leave at the end of the year after they received their bonus. This can also be extended to people wanting a new challenge in the new year.
Sometimes you might find that people might be working far away from where their family and friends are based. These individuals are more likely to leave to be closer to their loved ones. In this scenario, you have a great opportunity to relax your vacation policy or even offer remote working options to retain their services.
By leveraging artificial intelligence and machine learning, companies are now able to rapidly identify and address these issues before it leads to attrition and high turnover. So when businesses get this right, it will also make it difficult for your competition to poach them by making a better financial offer.