Everyone is familiar with the war for tech talent, how expensive high turnover can be, how hard it is to attract good talent and how much is being spent by companies on collaboration with external recruitment partners. However, it often baffles me how many companies do little to keep their tech talent from leaving, even if sometimes it only requires a small effort.
Over the time I had the opportunity to work with software developers using different programming languages and tools. Whether PHP, Ruby on Rails or Java EE developers, they often share the same reasons for leaving their employer, although they work for different types of companies.
So what are the most common reasons for developers to leave their employers?
In most cases, developers are aware that the only way to get a pay rise is to change jobs.
Even if they are happy with the circumstances, chances are if they are underpaid they will look elsewhere. Of course, not all companies can afford to pay above market rates, however they should try as much as possible and not allow the compensation to be the main reason for high turnover.
This part does not only refer to the salary itself, so employers need to remember that software developers in general like perks. Whether it is a free lunch, free energy drinks or team events and participation in conferences, there are many things that will make the experience of working with a company unique and valuable.
Another major reason why software developers leave their employers is the lack of challenges.
When joining a company, developers go through a steep learning curve, which means they are very engaged and challenged in the first few months. However, the existing architecture, tools and methods become less of a challenge with time, which can result in a lack of general interest for the work. This is true especially for the developers that are constantly trying to improve their skills.
Although not easy to solve, this issue can be avoided by allocating developers to new projects, involving different technologies and constantly offering training opportunities.
Employers need to understand that the work of software developers involves stressful tasks and strong mental concentration on a daily basis, therefore burnout is very much a reality.
In addition, stressful activities (such as code reviews, new releases, etc.) can lead to people being blamed even for the smallest mistakes. To make this worse, most companies do not take the opportunity to congratulate their developers when they do very well, which can lead to a culture where developers are afraid to strive for excellence.
However, this issue presents a great opportunity for companies to be creative and different than the competition. This is very much about improving the work atmosphere, offering cool benefits and entertaining activities. For most employers, having an onsite gym and pool might be impossible to offer, however there is much to learn from companies such as Guidewire, Riverbed Technology or Riot Games in terms of creative work benefits.
In conclusion, there are many actions employers could take to improve their software team turnover, with often the most basic things being the most effective.
A pleasant work environment, free food and snacks in addition to challenging work activities are a great way to start.
It is also important to know employees personally, use common sense in daily operations and of course, be creative when it comes to rewarding software developers for their hard work.
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