Your developers are essential to your business. And in today’s market, developers can pretty much go wherever they like to find employment. A quick online search will find them a job that might even be more appealing than the one they have.
Consider this. According to Payscale, the average full-stack developer can average $78,936 a year in salary. That same salary tops out at around $119k. Are you paying your developers accordingly? If not, there are plenty of businesses out there who will.
Retaining software engineers, though, isn’t only about salary. There are a number of things to consider to keep those developers from jumping ship to more attractive waters. And before you think you’re immune to such attrition, think again. The grass can always be greener.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at just a few things you can do to help retain the software developers that make your business run smoothly.
Give Them the Right Tools
First and foremost, you must give them the right tools, so they can get their jobs done. This doesn’t just mean the software, frameworks, and IDEs they require to code, but desktop machines, laptops, ergonomic desks, and chairs, as many monitors as they require, the right keyboards and mice, trackpads, lighting, offices, and even headphones.
It might sound like you’re doing nothing more than catering to the needs of the few, but those few are responsible for keeping your delivery pipelines humming, so it’s best you give them everything they need to work effectively.
Think about this: You might feel as though you are pandering, but the end results are probably worth every penny you spend, even if it might seem frivolous. That doesn’t mean, however, that you must cater to their every whim. This should all be within reason, but you should always make sure to fully understand that sometimes their wants and needs are very similar. Err on the side of caution.
Work Towards CI/CD
CI/CD should be a goal. Why? Because it not only brings automation into play (to help dramatically speed up delivery), it’ll also challenge your developers in new and exciting ways. That is something you should never underestimate with developers. They like a good challenge. And knowing that you want to employ Continuous Integration/Continuous Delivery tells them that you are serious about taking the business (and the developers) to the next level.
The one thing to remember about adopting CI/CD is that it is very much a challenge. Expect the adoption to take some time and know that there will be bumps along the way. This will be a completely new way of working for everyone involved.
Avoid Tribal Knowledge
Tribal knowledge happens when specific departments retain important information and don’t share it with other departments. That causes problems for everyone involved, especially developers. Every department, every stakeholder in a project, should be sharing information, documents, communications, and details on a project from top to bottom.
When tribal knowledge occurs, it prevents people from doing their jobs to the best of their abilities or even completing a project. When this happens, developers get frustrated. When developers get frustrated, their productivity plummets.
You want to create an environment that lends itself to everyone’s voices being heard. This is especially important within the realm of development, where you might be dealing with software engineers who don’t always have the easiest time with communication. Empower those developers such that they feel free to communicate with everyone involved, all the way up the chain of command.
This, of course, means you must train those above developers to listen to them and take their requests seriously. And when a developer makes a suggestion, it should be considered. They are, after all, the ones building the products that power your business, so their voices and skills should be empowered.
Compensate Them Fairly
This one can be challenging at times because developers tend to make more than average staff members. There’s a good reason for this. Your bottom line is directly affected by what your software engineers do. And if you don’t compensate those developers fairly, they’ll likely find a company that will. Most developers know what their talents are worth, so lowballing them will never work.
Just remember the ROI you get from developers most often exceeds that of other employees, so paying them more is justified.
Don’t Abuse Their Willingness To Work
Developers tend to work tirelessly to get the job done. Software engineers will work late into the night and on weekends, easily losing track of time as they bury themselves in their code. Don’t take advantage of this, as it will set a precedent those employees can’t maintain (and you shouldn’t expect).
Because of that, you should be willing to enforce work hours. And even though there will be times when more than the regularly expected time on the clock is needed, don’t allow this to be the norm (and compensate for those extra hours).
If your average employee works 40 hours a week, don’t expect your developers to go beyond that (unless it’s in their contract that they do and are paid accordingly).
Don’t Set Unattainable Deadlines
At the same time, don’t expect your developers to work with deadlines they can’t meet. Every project will be different, but you should make sure to work with management and the development staff to schedule deadlines that can be maintained without anyone having to work extraordinary hours or at a pace that can’t be safely maintained.
If you constantly set unattainable deadlines, the health and wellbeing of your developers will suffer and you’ll most likely see attrition rates rise. Don’t let this happen.
If you follow these guidelines, you’ll find that retaining developers is actually just as easy as keeping regular staff members from leaving. Yes, you might have to take a few extra precautions, but the return on investment will be well worth going the extra mile.