8 ways to attract and retain software engineering talent

The IT industry is highly competitive so attracting and retaining top talent becomes one of the biggest challenges for every tech company.

Software engineer working at KAIZEN Softworks

There is a very restricted talent pool and a massive demand for software developers in the U.S. Companies must do their best to attract the greatest people to their team. The IT industry is highly competitive so attracting and retaining top talent becomes one of the biggest challenges for every tech company.

In this scenario, we are frequently asked how we manage to have such a low turnover rate (10% overall) when IT recruiters are constantly contacting our teams with new job offers. In this context, it is essential to understand the motivations of our developers and the ways we can structure work environments to maximize longevity and career satisfaction.

Now, what is your plan to attract and retain high quality software development talent? We’ve come up with several strategies that have helped us to do so.

How to retain software engineers

1- Promote a collaborative work environment

Creating a collaborative work environment fosters people to express their talents. Developers want to be part of an organization where their voices are heard, where they feel part of the company culture and have an influence on what happens within it.

You should allow your developers to participate in decisions that may affect both the institutional and software development team environment. Encouraging people to participate in the decision-making process that involves aspects beyond the specific tasks of their role, increases the perception of the influence they have both on the team and the company.

In other words, this means allowing and promoting cross-area collaboration.

By listening to and, more importantly, acting on the feedback provided by your developers, you'll let them know that you recognize their talents and make them feel that their contributions have a tangible impact on a team and organization level.

2- Encourage creativity to solve problems

There is nothing more counterproductive than having to solve a problem with techniques that may not be the most efficient ones. So why don't let your developers play with the methods they try and be the ones to come up with effective and creative solutions?

It's important to promote creative freedom to solve important problems. This job is, after all, their domain, which means they must have a responsible level of independence within it.

Also, this will encourage them to be more engaged with the company as there is trust in their work.

3- Offer opportunities to learn new skills

As the technology market continues to grow and evolve, your software developers should have the opportunity to grow with it.

Please notice that continual updating and self-improvement drew many developers to their profession in the first place.

You should offer the suitable training as these tech talents like to be challenged but they may resent being thrown into a new expertise without properly learning it first.

Keep in mind that having suitable resources is a crucial factor in developers' enthusiasm and outcomes. For example, let's say your engineers find a problem and don't know how to fix it. Hitting an obstacle directly proportional to the limits of their experience will end up discouraging them, affecting the project and the company in general.

Challenges and skills chart

This is an opportunity to provide enrichment. Empower them to master their skills and encourage them to continually improve by creating a culture where they learn that a long, profitable and fulfilling career comes from using skills to deliver software and create impact.

This fosters a culture of self-determination and adds to employee’s benefits.

4- Salary compensation

A key aspect of a developer's motivation is salary and compensation package for their work. To recognize the market value of a person, it is necessary to carry out labor market research and more importantly, ask yourself what gives them their experience and skills necessary for their job?

It is important to research the value that other companies in the industry provide, to ensure that the salaries and compensation plans offered, such as additional benefits, are attractive enough to keep developers engaged with the company.

A good employee deserves to be recognized for the value of their work and paid according to their responsibilities. Otherwise, they will be open to new opportunities that give them the compensation they believe their work deserves.

How to retain software engineers

5- Connect people with purpose

Purpose has to do with being able to make a contribution to others and pursuing a higher goal. We find more and more professionals who no longer focus primarily on how much they are going to earn or what they are going to achieve, but on one main question: “what am I going to work for?”.

Connecting people with purpose, makes the differences between the technical and human sides of a person disappear. Working and living guided by a purpose benefits people because it gives them the opportunity to look inward and renew themselves by going beyond their own limits. Likewise, it gives a sense of belonging to the organization and reinforces organizational commitment.

Motivate people to ask questions like: why does what we do matter? What difference do we make in the world? What motivates us to continue offering our services? What motivates our clients to hire us?

6- Create a safe space for people to lead by example

The first few years as a software developer might be a stressful time that comes along with different challenges. Going through these early years can be an extremely frustrating experience if developers are not supported by a strong structure. That's why every company needs to have leaders with the experience and vision to support less experienced employees as they grow with the company.

Providing a safe space for developers to teach other team members is one of the best ways to increase team seniority. When developers are mentored, they learn. When they learn, they get involved. When they get involved, they are much more likely to stick around.

Therefore, recognizing and encouraging mentoring within teams and companies is one of the most important things a company can do.

Also, teaching others inspires them to take on new challenges, to share their knowledge and to continue growing from a soft skill point of view since it is an opportunity to develop empathy and improve leadership and communication skills.

7- Celebrate achievements and offer a career path

There is nothing more encouraging and fulfilling than knowing that your work makes a difference in your company and also in your client businesses. Let your employees know that their day-to-day work is important!

Implement recognition initiatives, celebrate team milestones, and provide small confidence boosts.

But recognition is not enough incentive to retain talent if you don’t support it with career advancement opportunities.

Career growth can mean fostering a culture of knowledge-sharing, which enables employees to discover new interests within the company, allowing role gaps to be filled internally.

Also, it makes them feel like they’re growing with the company and provides a sense of purpose and belonging, which in turn fosters loyalty and long term engagement.

8- Look into why people leave

Losing a team member can become an opportunity to learn from the experience and mitigate the risk of having the same problem in the near future. Just as not all problems have a solution, you can’t fix a problem you don't know about either.

Conducting an exit interview can help you to learn more about the reasons why people decide to leave the company and their perception of the work environment.

This information works as an opportunity to improve your current talent management process through receiving honest feedback on the true state of the organization, and the problems employees face on a day-to-day basis.


Conclusion

We invite you to reflect on the following questions: what excites your developers to go to work? How does the structure of your organization affect its overall performance? Are your developers surrounded by peers who can encourage and challenge them to improve? And more importantly, can your developers visualize a career within your company?

Whether you’re looking for software developers to take your business idea into a digital solution or want to further expand your current development team, we’re here to help.

Contact us to learn more about our software development services and how we can add value to help you achieve your business goals.

(Related read: How to hire software developers?)

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