Tips to Retain Software Developers in a Hot Market
As a manager of software developers, I am evaluated on whether they succeed or fail. Therefore, my most important responsibility is finding talented people and keeping them.
Since 2010, software developers have been the most in-demand professionals nationwide. During that time, companies have added more than 70,000 developers—almost twice as many as the second most in-demand position. In a market this hot, retention is even more difficult than finding talent, and developers are under an almost constant assault from recruiting agencies.
I have not worked as a programmer in more than seven years, but I still get daily solicitations; imagine the requests that developers with active skills receive. Remember that replacing people comes at a very high cost. Exacerbating the problem is the fact that your best developers are the first to go and then become a pipeline to recruit other members of your team.
Retention is critical for the continued success of your team, as Jennifer Lent writes in SearchSoftwareQuality. Her article takes a took a look at what motivates developers and how to keep them happy.
Due to the current market demand, it’s easy for a developer to attain a desirable salary, so that benefit only plays a small part in a developer’s job satisfaction. Lent quotes a TechTarget survey that states, “The main reason (22 percent) survey respondents reported for going elsewhere was a desire to be challenged intellectually.”
Furthermore, developers compete against each other in a “meritocracy” that is based on “Who is working on the hardest problem?” and “Who is working with the coolest technologies?” Understanding this desire can help a manager assign his most valued people to the most sought-after projects.
Additionally, developers want “responsibility and autonomy.” The best developers are internally motivated, and giving them authority over their work feeds this motivation.
Good managers need to focus on what makes developers want to stay at a company during a very hot market. The cost of finding quality software developers is high, but the cost of replacing your most talented people is even higher.
As Lent points out, developers are motivated by much more than money, and understanding that motivation is the key to keeping your team together. Not only will your retention increase, but your company will become more attractive to the top available talent.
The developer community is small and well connected. Ask yourself: What is your company’s reputation in the developer market? Who are the primary drivers of that reputation? What are you doing as a manager to feed that reputation?