Hallelujah, you’ve finally hired the right candidate.
They’re a great cultural fit, have exactly the right experience, negotiated for a higher salary (and got it!) and seem to be enjoying the role. They possess all the traits that mark the perfect startup hire.
Now all you have to do is retain them. Easy, right?
Like us, you’ve probably found that it’s not only getting harder to hire awesome developers, but also to keep them. It’s a competitive world out there, and unfortunately hiding behind the same old strategies, keeping your fingers crossed and hoping for the best just won’t cut it anymore.
- a retainment strategy
- ...that's backed up by research into why developers leave
And we can help :)
Data-led retainment strategies
Retaining new hires requires an active approach and a strategy that is continually reviewed and updated. A good strategy incorporates the latest trends and insights, as well as feedback from your current employees. But if you don’t have a fully-developed retainment strategy - or any strategy at all - where should you start?
Feeling around in the dark, using a combination of guesswork and intuitive gut-led decisions to retain new employees might work for a while.
But the best strategies start and end with data.
We know they’re strange, night-time creatures with a preference for computers over people, but their feedback and insights are kinda essential. (Just kidding - we’re all techies here at Nederlia).
Why do developers leave?
We understand that research can be time-consuming, so we've done it for you!
We asked developers why they left their previous jobs - and what you should do to keep them.
The top 10 reasons developers left their previous jobs:
- Felt unchallenged
- No opportunity for promotion
- Wanted to learn new skills
- Benefits weren’t competitive
- Pay wasn’t competitive
- Wanted more autonomy and independence
- Weren’t listened to
- Wrong cultural fit
- Felt their work wasn’t valued
- Didn’t get on with senior management
So, what insights can we take from this research?
Keep developers engaged
With new technologies being released all the time, successful developers need to keep up-to-date with the latest coding languages and software updates. Providing regular training programmes and new opportunities to learn is in the company’s interest, as it keeps employees engaged, skilled and - most importantly - in the job!
As well as scheduling regular performance reviews and opportunities for feedback, make sure you build in opportunities for growth and offer a robust development program.
Developers “want to learn new skills”
A key motivation for junior developers is staying at the cutting-edge of software development. They want access to the latest and greatest hardware and software technologies, and the opportunity to practice new skills in a collaborative and supportive environment.
Your retainment strategy for junior employees should include opportunities to attend:
- in-house training days
- external conferences
- product launches
Developers “want to be challenged”
For more senior employees, such as Team Leads, Product Owners and Scrum Masters, motivation comes in the form of deepening existing skills and being able to share these skills with others. Not all developers want to lead a team or formally manage junior employees, so think about offering technical leadership instead.
Your retainment strategy for senior developers should include opportunities to:
- become tech leads
- train new hires
- spearhead internal change
- learn new programming languages
A key milestone for turnover is the 18 month mark. Developers typically spend a few months getting to grips with the role, learning the ropes and finding their feet. Another year spent deepening their technical skills and they’ll probably be looking for a fresh challenge. If they don’t find it within the company, they’ll think about moving on.
Learning should be an intrinsic and everyday part of the company culture.
Crack that, and the rest will follow!
Recognise and reward developers’ hard work
Developers want the “opportunity for promotion”
But what does this mean?
Traditionally, promotion meant a small nudge up the career ladder and a sizeable pay rise. But we’re no longer in 1980 - even if Nokia is making a comeback and Star Wars is back in cinemas.
Nowadays, “promotion” looks a little different, particularly for developers who aren’t motivated by the opportunity to manage a team. Developers did cite competitive pay as the fourth most important factor in their decision to leave a company, but this was ranked after a competitive benefits package and the opportunity for growth.
Developers want “competitive benefits and pay”
Employers in flat structures have to work a little harder to “promote” developers, as there will be very few (if any) senior management positions available.
Plus, it’s not always easy to match competitors on pay.
...But there’s good news!
Even in a very flat tech startup, employees can reward developers by offering:
- broader responsibilities
- long-term incentives like stock options
- bonuses for projects finished on time and within budget
- technical leadership
- a larger holiday allowance
Promotion doesn’t have to mean moving into the C Suite, or even managing a team, but it does mean recognising your employees’ hard work and rewarding it accordingly.
Five steps to retainment success
Congratulations for making it this far - it's been a pretty long post. We've said a lot of stuff about a lot of different things, and we're not even sure we can remember them all. So, we've summed our research and insights up into an easy-to-remember five point list for you to build (or improve) your company's retainment strategy.
What does it take to retain new developers?
1. Engage and motivate new hires
2. Provide technical challenges
3. Create opportunities to learn
4. Recognise hard work...
5. ...and reward it!
Still looking to grow your startup team? We can tell you how.
Header image by Snopek Nadia / Shutterstock.com
2. Not 100% sure that fairies don’t exist
3. Looks at every dog in the street as if she’s going to kidnap it
4. Only learned how to open a bottle of wine at 25
5. Could be a pro bumper car driver, but isn’t in it for the money