This is more turnover than even retail and consumer products, which are often short-term employment solutions.
Furthermore, the turnover rate for embedded software engineers is even higher, at a lofty 21.7%.
The issue with retaining technical employees lies in their increasingly high demand and competitive compensation market.
Employers will pay top dollar for software developers, and this incites career-hopping.
To ensure this doesn’t happen to your team, this article outlines some strategies for reducing developer turnover – ones that don’t involve pumping up the paycheck.
Table of Contents
Use the Power of One-on-One Meetings
Imagine a boss who never asked you how you were doing, checked in on your progress, or asked about your ideas. You’d feel unappreciated, stressed, and insecure – you’d likely leave.
They’re the perfect opportunity to talk to your employees, frankly and honestly, about their satisfaction. Marcelo Tribuj said it best:
For example, ask them about their project and how you can help. Are there any blockers? Is the documentation sufficient?
Offer them feedback – highlight what coding solutions you approve of and what architecture could be more elegant.
Bug and crash reporting tool for your mobile app.
You can also set some goals for the next meeting so that they have an objective to strive for. Finally, ask them for their thoughts on the company.
Are they worried about any recent changes? What’s their desired career growth?
As a great engagement booster, one-on-one meetings are crucial to decreasing turnover rates.
Enter the check-in: an informal one-on-one meeting with no paperwork, yet beneficial to the employees’ growth. Below is the general framework:
Adobe proves that hosting regular one-on-one meetings is crucial for retaining your employees.
You might have a busy schedule, but carve out some time to sit down for each of your developers at least once every two weeks for 30 minutes; decide on one recurring timeslot, and put it in your calendar.
You likely have 50 other tasks but don’t neglect these meetings. In a recent Twitter post, Jean-Michel Lemieux revealed how many weekly one-on-ones he has:
If he can pull that off in Spotify’s fast-paced, dynamic environment, so can you. Make time for your developers – the one-on-ones will pay off.
Remove Outdated Work Practices
Unfortunately, outdated work practices can be found in many companies.
Traditional work environments don’t allow any flexibility, despite this flexibility being important to developers.
As we can see from these numbers, flexibility and remote work options are crucial factors. However, they’re both fairly new concepts, and not every company will offer them.
For example, take a look at this Reddit post:
Allowing remote work would solve the problem immediately.
Flexible working hours also mean a lot to developers. At the end of the day, the hours that make up the workday aren’t important; the results are.
Similarly, some developers prefer to code at night and sleep in the morning. Other developers work best at sunrise and like to be finished by 3 pm.
Why should either employee be confined to Henry Ford’s 20th-century framework?
By freeing developers from the standard constrictive 9-5, you’ll keep them happy and encourage them to stay with your company.
Outdated practices aren’t frustrating in terms of company culture – they’re also problematic within technology itself.
This fast, efficient process – just shaking the device – is an excellent tool for reporting bugs quickly.
You don’t even need to leave the app to report the error; there’s no need for Slack messages.
Make More Time for Programming
As a general rule of thumb, developers are good at programming; it’s what you hired them for, after all.
Over 60% of developers spend only half their workday actively programming.
The other half gets lost in meetings, testing, paperwork, and multiple other functions that, realistically, someone else can handle.
This developer was furious and advised the original poster to leave immediately. The other answers had similar advice – no one was willing to work in a coding-less workplace.
After all, it’s your developers’ job to code.
As their manager, it’s your job to facilitate relations between your team and the rest of the company, which typically includes meetings and paperwork.
For example, if a new feature needs to be explained to the Sales and Marketing departments, you can fill them in.
If it should come to a meeting, attend it alone. As their manager, you should know the project well enough to answer any questions.
This manager has delegated technical tasks to his entire team, which they are sure to appreciate—working in such a technical-centric environment will probably reduce developer turnover.
In the same vein, it’s essential to fight for reasonable deadlines when negotiating with stakeholders.
Provide your developers the time they need to complete a feature without any unnecessary overtime. Ben Dovey explains below how he did it:
They’ll appreciate you advocating for them – something that will definitely incite loyalty to the company.
Offer Career Advancement Opportunities
You’d be hard-pressed to find a junior developer happy to remain a junior developer.
That being said, career advancement opportunities aren’t synonymous with managerial positions.
This career path allows them to continuously develop their technical skills, which often results in them mentoring juniors. A standard growth plan looks like this:
While an entry-level engineer operates autonomously, the principal engineer will determine and headline company-wide projects – but not manage them.
The classic managerial advancement has a much larger focus on interpersonal relations.
They assess if roadmaps are realistic and determine how much can be expected from a project.
Below is a standard managerial growth plan:
More people-orientated developers will flourish in these roles and will likely stay at companies that offer this opportunity.
Besides these two career paths, there’s also a philosophy known as ‘unstructured learning.’
By allocating time to work on side projects, workers foster innovation and creativity and come up with solutions they might have never thought of within the standard corporate workday approach.
By giving developers free time to work on what interests them and what they feel genuinely passionate about, you’ll gather your developers’ loyalty; they’re almost guaranteed to stay.
Create a Community-Like Environment
If you can create this atmosphere, you will likely retain your developers.
By building an environment of only team players, developers should be much more likely to stay, as they know they’ll always be supported.
This IT provider has constructed a ‘Wall of Fame’: a wall listing former employees, highlighting the benefits they bought the company.
Instead of resenting and ostracizing the departed workers, the company honors their accomplishments.
Those workers remained a substantial part of Paragus’s community, despite no longer being employed there.
Below is an example of a ‘Wall of Fame’ plaque:
Paragus truly values every contribution made towards the company and even considers those no longer employed part of its community.
Besides the ‘Wall of Fame,’ Paragus inspires the community with more conventional methods. For example, the company provides staff lunches and even operates an office ‘pub’:
That will then translate into a healthy, collaborative community environment that developers will love to be a part of.
Besides these outward efforts, a community environment often depends on mindset – you need to address the root causes.
This will unite developers in their work, as they operate under the same principles. Ken Blanchard explains it below:
If there is no vision to guide people, they tend to revert to selfishly focusing on themselves.
That sense of collaboration, trust, and motivation is bound to increase your developers’ desire to stay with your company.
You’ll never be able to eliminate turnover completely, but you can implement practices to reduce it.
Keep your developers technical – make sure they’re programming, and offer career advancement opportunities.
Organize one-on-one meetings and create a community-like environment, so they’ll receive all the support they need. Finally, abolish outdated work practices such as a strict 9 to 5 schedule.
By sticking to these methods, you’re bound to reduce developer turnover in your organization as much as possible.