Best Practices to Retain Top Software Developers

Software development

Staff turnover is one of the major business concerns, but few companies are willing to take the extra steps required to develop an employee retention program.

Employee Retention Definition

Today, the lack of employees is a key challenge for IT market participants. Considering globalization and the spread of remote work, the struggle for highly qualified specialists is going on at the international level.

Where to find a good developer? Often developers come to companies on the recommendation of employees, partners, or clients. Many employees bring their friends and former colleagues to work, reducing recruitment time and cost.

IT recruiters actively use job sites and, Telegram channels, conferences. The social network LinkedIn and the community of IT specialists “Habr” are considered popular search places. There are many channels for searching for IT specialists. Therefore, it would be more correct to replace the question “where” with “how.”

The problem of attracting companies is solved in different ways. They work with the HR brand, increase salaries, offer options, retrain employees, and look for alternative opportunities. For example, they give employees more freedom of action or the chance to sell their product.

Both novice and experienced developers pay attention to the company’s opportunities for development and growth. The high professional level of the manager and team members is appreciated. Equally important is the team’s psychological atmosphere and concern for employees’ well-being.

Employee retention is the ability of an organization to prevent employee layoffs. While this can be put in statistical form, many see it as a company’s effort to retain its employees. It may seem surprising at first, but work on retention begins at the hiring stage. The more effort you put into recruiting candidates with the right skills and culture, the fewer problems you will have with laying off employees in the future.

Why employee retention is essential, especially in the IT sphere

Maintain a high team spirit

If for any reason, employees are not satisfied with their current career or employer, this will become apparent to the rest of the team. What’s more, if many of your employees start to leave the organization at short notice, it could lead to a snowball effect, meaning more team members follow in their footsteps. As a result, team morale will plummet, jeopardizing the stability of your business.

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High employee turnover affects the net profit

According to the Work Institute, the cost of employee turnover is equal to a third of a worker’s annual salary. However, in technology, these costs are much higher. In fact, it costs a whopping $87,000 to replace a developer on average. These costs are associated with processes such as recruitment, compensation, lost productivity, and onboarding and training your new employees. In general, creating and executing an employee retention plan is more cost-effective than replacing your team members.

Developers can easily change jobs

According to a Stack Overflow study, 32.4% of developers change jobs more than once a year. If you don’t prove to your employees that you value their work and care about their professional development, you risk losing them to another company. Keep in mind that hiring a developer takes 43 days on average. This time can be significantly longer if you are hiring for a particular niche or rare skill.

A-players care about their development

One of the most important criteria when deciding whether to join a company is the opportunity for professional development. This is especially true when it comes to top programmers who are ambitious and learn quickly.

Your competitors can benefit

Losing employees can be painful because finding replacements is costly and time-consuming, and they can switch sides and join the competition. The knowledge they have acquired while working for you can fall into the wrong hands and bring significant benefits to your business competitors. This is especially risky when your key employees leave – when you hire someone who matches their skills, the workload will have risen, and it will be challenging to catch up.

It can damage your reputation

High employee turnover leads to lower employee morale and can negatively affect your reputation outside the company. It is common practice to search for information about your potential employers on forums/portals/review sites. Most likely, those who leave will write you a negative review. Even if they don’t, many testimonials appearing on your profile in a short period will still indicate high turnover. This, in turn, can harm your recruiting efforts in the future.

What drives employee retention

Facilitate implementation

People choose a particular career for a reason – some like the hype around creating new products, while others like drawing graphs in Excel. Whatever the reason, doing a satisfying job is critical for employee engagement. Your employees need to feel that their work is valued and appreciated.

Providing Growth Opportunities

42% of employees believe professional development is a top priority when choosing an employer. The human brain is programmed to search for and learn new things – this is called the “search system.” Organizational behavior professor Daniel M. Cable states, “Our search systems create a natural impulse to explore our worlds, learn about our environments, and make sense of our circumstances. Following our search engine’s urges releases dopamine – a neurotransmitter associated with motivation and pleasure – which makes us want to explore more.”

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If employers want to keep their talents, they must be able to provide them with opportunities for continuous growth.

Enable autonomy

Trust your employees to make their own decisions and avoid micromanaging; after all, you’ve hired the best people, so let them do their job. It would help if you empowered people to make decisions independently of you. Each team member is an extension of your leadership; if they feel you are giving them strength, they will increase your ability to lead.

Facilitate collaboration

If you value talent retention, you must ensure your employees know how to work effectively together. This can mean anything from eliminating silos between teams (such as designers and developers) to learning who to contact with specific questions to help your employees get to know each other. As the Forbes Council of Coaches aptly noted, “socialization must be an ongoing process and is paramount to the ultimate success of the business” and for new hires to feel confident in their new role.

Implement structured workflows

Employees can be frustrated if there are no rules or processes in place for their daily work. To improve employee retention, you must make it easy for your team to do their jobs and find the necessary information and answers to their questions. You should, for example, ensure your technical team has access to the knowledge base and set up a flexible workflow.

Keep your tech stack up to date

To increase tech retention, you must ensure your company’s tech stack keeps up. Namely, the ability to work with new technologies is the second most crucial factor developers look for when working immediately after compensation. Moreover, if your company adapts its technology stack to the latest standards and trends, you will also be able to attract more talented and motivated employees.

Ten Methods, strategies, and tips for retaining IT staff

Before we start discussing retention strategies, it’s worth emphasizing that retention begins with hiring. Therefore, it must be a conscious, planned effort throughout the employee’s life cycle.

Hire Selectively

Not all job applicants are perfect. Avoid hiring both underqualified and overqualified candidates. Both scenarios will most likely result in them leaving your organization. To ensure your candidates are the right fit for you, you should accurately test their skills with a technical skills assessment.

Offer training

As mentioned in the previous sections, the best technical talent looks for promising career opportunities. They prioritize learning new skills that will help them advance their careers.

Recognize achievements and offer promotion

The most effective leaders understand that building an engaged workplace is essential for employees to feel understood and appreciated. We all like to hear from time to time that we did a good job. Recognizing success is vital as it keeps employees motivated. It will also help if you notice employees who are about to be promoted instead of waiting for them to come to you.

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Be open and transparent

Open communication between employees and management can help create a sense of community and shared purpose. Your employees need to know that they are free to express their opinion, whatever they may be, and that their voices will be heard and considered.

Use technology to measure employee engagement

It’s a good idea to measure employee engagement regularly – for example; you can send out anonymous surveys. A low employee engagement score can trigger a red light. You can prevent employees from being fired if you understand the problem quickly enough.

Conduct annual performance reviews

Another vital employee retention method is a thorough annual performance review. By conducting a yearly inspection, you will be able to learn about your employees’ satisfaction levels, find out if there are any problems or problems they are struggling with, and discuss the long and short-term perspectives of your employees and organizations. goals. For best results, consider reinforcing annual assessments with more frequent feedback sessions.,

Maintain a good work-life balance

Giving an employee too much work often leads to frustration and burnout. This can lead to a severe loss of productivity and the dismissal of an employee from your organization. Respecting your employees’ leisure time and giving them a flexible vacation policy will positively impact your employee retention. You can also offer your developers the opportunity to work from home or choose their working hours. Both of these factors are extremely important for technical professionals.

Offer fair compensation

According to a 2020 Stack Overflow study, 70% of tech professionals say that rewards are the most important factor they look at when choosing a new job. Therefore, you must offer your current employees competitive wages, so they do not quit. This does not guarantee they will stay, but at least they will have one less reason.

Communication with employees

As humans, we value our connections with others in our personal and professional lives since it is more difficult to leave a company if employees are connected and their managers are; your retention methodology should also be aimed at integrating the team.

Conducting exit interviews

Last but not least, while you won’t be able to prevent all of your employees from being fired, once they’ve filed for resignation, you should be sure to collect feedback for your company. Schedule an exit interview and try to understand their motivation. For example, are they leaving because they’re moving, looking to gain experience in a new industry, or maybe there’s a problem in your organization? Knowing why team members go will help you resolve any issues and strengthen your retention strategy over time.


In recent years, the competition for IT talent has become extremely intense, with companies worldwide constantly vying for the attention of technical specialists. If your organization doesn’t have the right employee retention strategy, your team members won’t think twice if they’re approached with the right offer and decide to leave you.

Fortunately, there are ways to keep your employees and improve their job satisfaction. Among other things, you should ensure you are connected to your team, respect their work-life balance, conduct annual performance reviews, and use the right tools to measure their level of engagement. Follow the methods above, and you’ll be better equipped to retain your IT people and turn your company into a great workplace.