Five Strategies for Retaining Software Developers

Five Strategies for Retaining Software Developers

Have you’ve ever looked over your company’s payroll? If so, you’ve likely noticed that Software Developers are some of the highest-paid employees today. This is no surprise, as they’re responsible for everything from supporting your sales team’s CRM, to updating (and deleting) Instagram’s latest design. Plus, without the GPS technology they coded guiding our commutes, we’d literally be lost without them. 

Software developers will rarely stay in a seat for more than two years, and are fast to move in the tech market as enticing offers with newer tech and higher salaries arise. Successful hiring managers keep a pulse on the latest performance incentives, perks and localized tech salary rates to keep their developers challenged intellectually and comfortable in their culture. Losing tech talent can derail your projects, profits and morale, and finding and training a new hire is time consuming and expensive.

If you're a hiring manager struggling to keep software developers on your team, consider our five best strategies for retaining software developers in today's competitive market.

1. Let Software Developers Work

While it's said a watched pot never boils, a watched engineer is quick to boil over. Micromanaging engineers is rarely sustainable, especially if they’re overseen by a manager without a strong technical background. If you’ve been clear with your goals and challenges, trust your software developers to keep your code....up to code. 

Most experienced developers thrive with the freedom to work efficiently and creatively; if you trust their skill-set and overall understanding of your goal, give them the tools and space to solve the problem. Take the next step in decreasing their frustration from your development team by minimizing technical reports, or doing away with them altogether.

2. Encourage Software Developers to Play

Beyond work, give them the freedom to play. Encourage developers to experiment and innovate on the projects that matter most to them. By providing similar room for you to challenge your software developers to tinker and play with the newest tech, you might even get your next great initiative out of this dedicated time.

A company with a longstanding engineering strategy won't be able to, or want to, keep up with every trend in the marketplace, and most new tech has not been proven at a mass-production level. But, the smart companies can account for this by allowing their engineers 20 percent of the time playing with new tech and do exploratory R&D, and the rest dedicated to ROI-related work. Some of the best products come out of this creative time. Especially if you can't afford to compete with the highest salaries, the freedom to work and develop their interests is more valuable, and a cost effective way to keep your developers feeling fulfilled in their current seat. 

3. Invest in the Talent You Have

Not all developers are created equally: depending on your developer’s specialty (think: JavaScript, R-frameworks, Python, etc.), they might be entitled to a higher salary than developers without their specific skill-set. how-to-retain-software-developers_2

To take their growth a step further, encourage your software developers to take classes on the latest tech, and provide tuition reimbursement when they successfully complete a course. Developers know that their tech is evolving so quickly, they can become anxious about staying on top of the trends. By sponsoring them at advanced learning classes at groups like General Assembly, not only will your developers feel that they are on top of the latest software trends, but grateful that they can take their new knowledge and apply it to your goals.

4. Share Your Vision

It is one thing to explain to developers what you want done, but it is wholly as important to explain why you need it done. With developers deep in code, they might lose sight of your branding, audience and revenue goals. Keeping them up-to-date with company-wide accomplishments and struggles will help them feel more ingrained in your larger mission.

Guide them to understand exactly how their roles as software engineers are essential to the business. Beyond feeling satisfied in their seat, they will feel as though they are a vital contributor to something bigger than themselves, a key mentality to keep employees engaged. 

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5. Embrace Better Benefits 

By making an effort to seek out and offer better benefits, your developers will more likely feel confident about staying exclusively on your team. Most employers offer 401k, health benefits, paid and sick days off, so competitive tech hiring managers are going above and beyond by offering commuter benefit programs, catered meals, private events and bonuses. 



Like software itself, the careers for software developers are constantly evolving, which is why, as a manager, it's imperative to stay ahead of the latest trends, both in tech and culture, alike. Even with a leaner payroll, you can be generous with scheduling options, including four-day work weeks or remote days to improve your team's work-life balance.

With popular communication tools like Slack and FaceTime accessible to all your tech team, software developers careers can improve with the freedom to work quietly and creatively, without sacrificing collaboration.

It's not just about having a website or an app anymore, a strong tech team is key to staying both competitive and protected in today's rapid market. Hiring software developers capable of growing your company's tech is essential – which is why keeping software engineers on your team long-term requires vigilance and flexibility.

At Motion Recruitment, we’re committed to helping you build your teams of specialized tech developers, vetting their skill-sets and readiness for your open developer role. Once you’ve brought on a new hire, you still need to be vigilant in order to retain the software developers with your team long-term. 

You can retain developers by making them feel valuable and giving them the tools they need to succeed, the freedom to work, play and grow. While keeping up-to-date with salaries are important, treating your developers like valuable, integral members of your company is the best way to keep them committed – and retained securely on your payroll. 

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