infoTECH Feature

April 11, 2022

How to Retain Your Software Developers in a Hot Labor Market

It’s a tough landscape out there for recruiting and retaining employees of any kind. That challenge may be even greater if you’re attempting to retain software developers.

The number of engineers, programmers, and coders can’t keep pace with the rapid growth of digital technology. Unlike many other company positions, you can’t readily cross-train an employee hired for one job to fill a tech slot. Software developers have unique skills others cannot simply replicate with a little extra training.

Recruiting a great hire is just the first hurdle. Because they are in such high demand, software developers can afford to keep looking around for more lucrative offers. That leaves companies scrambling to dangle a better compensation package than the next guy.

However, salaries and benefits aren’t the only secret to keeping your tech talent happy. You’ll need to work harder than that to keep a great software developer if you manage to land one. Here’s how you can retain them in a labor market that keeps turning up the heat.

Build the Right Team to Recruit Tech Talent

Software developers don’t work in a vacuum. When they join your company, they’re joining a team with a common endgame. They’re as committed to adding value to what your customers want and need as you are.

Surround your programmers with the right people, beginning with your software team leadership. Those who manage this talent should be mentors who can effectively articulate the company’s vision, framed for software development. They also should be able to translate the value of a developer within the company and the market at large.

Leadership should create a culture that encourages open dialogue and consistent feedback. With so many employees leaving jobs because they don’t feel valued, it’s up to you to make sure they do.

Strong leaders can also delegate tasks, even to the freshest developers they supervise. This allows employees to stretch young tech muscles, albeit in safe and supportive surroundings. Collaboration among all team members should not be an aberration but the norm.

Above all, leadership must ensure their talent isn’t stuck in an IT silo, away from those with other company roles. To achieve common goals, everyone needs to work together.  And that means bridging a common corporate disconnect.

Fix the Tech-Business Disconnect

There’s no denying the differences in the personality, proficiency, and perspective between software developers and “the business,” perhaps especially sales. Those disparities can lead to the construction of silos and the resulting lack of coordination. You will need to work to tear them down.

Step one requires making sure those with different job descriptions understand the roles they each play. Moreover, all team members need to have a basic understanding of one another’s processes and realistic turnaround times. Software developers will appreciate it when those in nontechnical positions even minimally grasp the challenges they face.

Let’s say your company’s marketing staff surveys customer leads who become prospects but don’t end up buying your product. Survey results indicate these prospects aren’t buying because they want a tech feature your product doesn’t have. The sales team, which knows it isn’t going to meet goals, tells IT to create the feature and do it now.

Software developers by nature are inquisitive problem solvers and an extremely determined lot. To paraphrase Thomas Edison, they don’t fail 10,000 times but rather find 10,000 ways something won’t work. Software developers revel in a good challenge but won’t stick around if pushed with no regard for their process.

Your sales and marketing talent likely can’t develop software, and your developers might not be the best people to sell your product. Not taking the time to make sure both can understand the challenges of the other is a missed opportunity. Over time, you might find yourself missing some software developers in the office.

Give ’Em What They Want (Within Reason)

You probably can’t give your software developers everything they want in order to get them to stick around. Smaller companies and startups can’t come near to matching the compensation packages of big business. But you might make your developers think twice about leaving you for a bigger paycheck by pushing some other buttons:

  • Don’t assume their facility for resolving tech snafus means software developers aren’t creative. If all you have them doing is programming fixes for glitches, they’ll exit. Give them opportunities to create new things and allow them the free time to work on them.
  • Reward talent, skill, and productivity among your developers regardless of traditional qualifications. It’s a field with talented individuals with or without college degrees. Base compensation and advancement decisions on results, not diplomas.
  • Make sure they have the tools they need to do their jobs but go further. When you can swing it in the budget, give your developers hardware upgrades and new tech toys. They will not only feel appreciated, but also pumped to use new gizmos.
  •  Recognize their work and applaud their contributions to the company’s success. Never underestimate the power of the proverbial pat on the back in the presence of co-workers, industry peers, and customers.
  • Allow software developers to advance in the company’s hierarchy. An accompanying raise may be less important to them than a new title and leadership opportunities. But remember the Peter Principle, too — don’t impose management responsibilities on developers who don’t want them.
  • Accommodate software developers trying to achieve a healthy work-life balance. Their jobs are highly conducive to working remotely. If a great developer asks for some flexibility, grant it.

Great software developers are always in demand. If you have hired one or more, you should do everything in your power to keep them in the fold.

You may not be able to offer the kind of compensation that will keep great developers working for your company. Fortunately, it isn’t the only consideration they take into account when choosing where to work. By giving developers the other things they want, you can level the playing field for your business.


Subscribe to InfoTECH Spotlight eNews

InfoTECH Spotlight eNews delivers the latest news impacting technology in the IT industry each week. Sign up to receive FREE breaking news today!
FREE eNewsletter

infoTECH Whitepapers