Everyone knows how hard it is nowadays to recruit talented software developers. Finding adequately competent employees is a sticking point which no technology company can avoid. And when a promising candidate is finally hired, another problem arises: how does a business promote teamwork and make sure that new recruits are given the opportunity to blossom within the company? In other words, how can their desire to stay be maintained? Each and every developer on an R&D team assumes a rich knowledge of both the product and the organization, and he or she has skills and faculties that no documentation would ever be able to faithfully reproduce.
Knowing this, the first question that we should ask is: what resources are we willing to put into motion in order to promote loyalty within our development teams? As there are a multitude of reasons which can motivate developers to leave, here are some factors that must be understood in order to avoid the turnover rate which can put such a strain on the dynamics of a technical team.
Lack of challenge
Even though software development positions are at the heart of this issue (due to a serious tech skills shortage on the market), developers' personal motivations are not often talked about, except when used as the subject of recycled cliches. Many companies (wrongly) consider salary to be the key factor in gaining staff loyalty. However, salary (while certainly an area of significant interest) is not the only reason why a developer might be tempted to go and see whether the grass is greener on the other side of the fence. To consider their well-being in their workplace, developers will also weigh other more quality-oriented criteria in the balance.
Among these criteria is the need to to be confronted to new challenges. Of course, one must not disregard the fact that developers will be brought in by the appeal of the products and technologies with which they will work. But routine work on trendy applications also has the potential of demotivate more programmers than you might think. Learning new things and the sense of personal improvement are absolutely essential. Most developers are motivated by the opportunity to quench their thirst to learn, to use their imagination and to solve complex problems (using interesting technology wherever possible). They appreciate the passionate aspect of the job, which is found in the creativity needed to challenge their own competences, make technical choices, and find innovative solutions.
Lack of recognition
In spite of this, being a software developer still suffers from being severely underrated ; engineering and imagination are reduced to the smallest share in favor of other tasks which are purely operational. On the business hierarchy, development teams are too often considered as those who don't bring any money, contrary to commercial teams who are placed high above, as they are considered to directly generate revenue. However, the developers and their creativity are at the core of product innovation, and it goes without saying, innovation gives a formidable boost to growth. Sharing decision-making, giving a vision of strategic business objectives, listening to propositions, giving compliments as well as responsibilities are effective tools to avoid the lack of sense which too often leads to the disengagement of technical teams.
Business objectives, new features, and releases on tight schedules cause development teams to be under constant pressure. Night and evening work becomes more and more frequent as efforts are made to meet deadlines. Some are led by an overload of stress (combined with the feeling that they've lost their way) to come to a crossroads in their career and completely change direction. This is why it is vital to be able to grant the team decompression phases, in which they may benefit from a time of collective relaxation. A well-knit team, with members who appreciate one another, who can share things outside of the strictly professional setting, is a team that can go forward and succeed. As developers often have little professional interaction with the outside world, satisfaction at work is necessary to keep up the quality of the atmosphere and personal relationships within the team.
To reinforce this cohesion, a GTA 5 or Wii tournament will be met with much more success than the traditional methods used to promote team-building (such as a wine-tasting evening or a canoe outing). You could also organize programming competitions. The idea is to rely on gamification mechanisms to encourage team members to help one another to work on common goals, all while broadening their horizons with the experience of an original game. These challenges can go on until late into the night (preferably in teams, in order to favor strategic cooperation) and they allow team members to engage in a unique activity outside of any formal setting.
It is difficult to give a preconceived recipe which shows how to make developers feel at home in their work setting. But your developers and their loyalty are stakes which are too high to be considered lightly. Solutions, often simple, and often linked to more ready and attentive listening, are within easy reach of your company's organization. They entail an implementation of a more agile management, combined with a genuine strategy for internal communication.