Recruitment and employee retention is a key challenge for most tech HR professionals. Indeed’s survey has found almost 9 in 10 respondents (86%) said it was challenging to find and hire technical talent.
The reason for this result is that there is a huge tech talent shortage. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has calculated that by 2020 in the US alone, there will be over one million computer science-based jobs without qualified college graduates to fill them.
Tech talent, especially software developers, are already in high demand. According to the latest Stack Overflow Developer Survey 2019, the largest and most comprehensive developer study which surveyed 90,000 respondents around the world, only 6.4% of developers are currently unemployed and looking for work.
Employee retention is a challenge in tech
Once you manage to find, attract, and hire great software developers, you are in constant danger of losing them to your competitors. Every good software developer receives a dozen job offers a day through their LinkedIn inbox alone. In other words, this makes employee retention really difficult.
Unfortunately for you, almost three-fourths of already employed developers are interested in hearing about new job opportunities. And when they get a better offer, they will move on. According to Stack Overflow’s research, frequent job changes are the norm for software developers. Over half of the respondents in the Stack Overflow’s survey have taken a new job within the past two years.
In the midst of a talent shortage and war for talent, how can your company attract and retain the very best software developers? Besides innovating your recruitment process, you also have to implement effective employee retention strategies. In this article, you will learn 4 best tech recruitment and employee retention strategies.
4 best tech recruitment and employee retention strategies
Here are 4 best practices that will help you both attract and retain talented software developers:
1. Offer a competitive salary
In general, the most important thing a developer considers when assessing a job is compensation, according to Stack Overflow’s research. They care significantly less about other benefits, such as health insurance, computer/office equipment allowances, stock options or shares, retirement or pension savings matching or parental leave.
Besides salary, there are other factors developers value. According to the 2019 Dice Tech Salary Report, developers also care about training/certification opportunities, training and certification opportunities, remote work/flex hours options, stock programs, 401 (k) matching, and paid sick time. When it comes to changing jobs, they are mostly driven by higher pay (68%), better working conditions (47%), and more responsibility (34%). Interestingly, salary satisfaction in tech has been steadily declining since 2012.
The message here is clear – you need to anticipate the needs of software developers to maximize your recruitment and employee retention efforts.
How to use salary to recruit employees in tech?
Plain and simple – include a salary range in your job ads. Many companies are still reluctant when it comes to providing a salary range in their job ads, but this is a big mistake, especially if you’re looking to hire sought after candidates such as software developers.
An overwhelming majority of software developers are already employed, and they probably have a decent salary. In order to nudge them into applying for your open job positions, you should allure them with a promise of a bigger paycheck. If you don’t, they’ll simply skip your job ad and focus on the one that offers a salary bigger than the one they receive at their current company.
How to use salary for employee retention in tech?
First of all, pay them what they’re worth. According to Devskiller’s latest research, the average pay for a full stack developer is $74,958 per year and the average Java developer salary in the US stands at $73,305 per year. Make sure that the salaries you pay to your software developers’ salaries are competitive in the market.
Another important factor for employee retention is that you have a bonus scheme. Create a bonus strategy and make it clear what goals your software developers have to achieve to be awarded an on the spot, quarterly, or yearly bonus.
2. Build a great company culture
The previously mentioned Stack Overflow survey has found that company culture is one of the most important job factors for developers. When asked to picture themselves comparing two jobs with the same compensation, benefits, and location, and consider which characteristics would most influence their choice between the two, most developers highlighted company culture and office environment.
A positive working environment is a key priority for most software developers. If you build a great company culture, you’ll be able to retain your current software developers and attract new ones.
How to use company culture to recruit employees in tech?
If you want to attract top tech talent, you should incorporate company culture in your recruitment strategies. Here are a few effective ways you can highlight your company culture during your recruitment process:
- Include a paragraph describing your unique company culture in your job ads.
- Highlight photos of your office on your career site.
- Write about your company culture on your career blog.
- Invite your candidates to your office and show them around.
- Organize virtual office tours for candidates who can’t come to your office.
- Regularly update your company’s social media profiles with photos and short anecdotes from your everyday office life.
How to use company culture for employee retention in tech?
If you want to retain software developers, you have to create a working environment in which they can thrive. Software developers are often tech lovers and innovators and their working environment should reflect this. Make sure that your office has break out areas where your software developers can get space to be creative and come up with new ideas.
You should also develop an “engineering culture.” Software developers are often tech lovers and innovators and their working environment should reflect this. Build a company culture where the opinions and contributions of software developers are valued, and where they are given significant opportunities for creativity and flexibility.
3. Develop your talent
Software developers are lifelong learners. According to Stack Overflow’s survey, almost 90% of all developers say they have taught themselves a new language, framework, or tool outside of their formal education. Among professional developers, about 60% say they took an online course like a MOOC and about a quarter have participated in a hackathon.
The best software developers know they have to continually upgrade their skills in order to remain relevant and successful in their jobs. Companies who offer opportunities for software developers to learn and grow will be successful in attracting top tech talent, as well as reaping the benefits of their continuous learning. Interestingly, according to Dice, only 3% of employers use training and certification as their primary motivator.
How to use your talent development program to attract software developers?
If you want to attract talented software developers, you have to convince them that your company is the best place for them to learn and grow. Highlight new technologies they can use if they come to work at your company. Brag about your educational programs on your career site. Post photos of your software developers visiting conferences and taking part in relevant trainings on social media.
Another great idea for promoting your talent development effort among potential candidates is to organize an academy, summer school, or internships for young software developers looking to improve their skills. Have your experienced, talented software developers share their knowledge and expertise train new rising software developers.
How to use your talent development program for employee retention in tech?
Set up continuing education opportunities that will enable your software developer to grow closer to mastery and learn about new and evolving software developments. Make sure you provide both in-house and external training opportunities.
First of all, utilize your internal resources. Establish a mentorship program so that your junior software developers can learn new skills from other, more experienced team members. Second, provide your software developers with additional opportunities to learn from the world’s top experts. Let them attend relevant tech vents, conferences, hackathons, seminars, classes, etc.
4. Encourage employee referrals
Besides competitive compensation, good work life balance and opportunities for learning professional development, developer candidates also care a lot about the people they work with.
This is why implementing an employee referral program is a great talent attraction and retention strategy. Rewarding your employees for recommending suitable developer candidates from their personal networks is a win-win situation for everyone involved! According to the Stack Overflow 2017 Developer Hiring Landscape report, 26.8% of developers found their current job through a friend, family member or former colleague.
How to use employee referrals to hire employees in tech?
First of all, make it easy for your employees to refer candidates. Don’t make them fill in long forms. Instead, let them share your open job positions in just one click! You can even turn collecting referrals into a fun event. Organize a referr-a-thon by ordering pizza and beer and playing music your software developers like!
Second, motivate your employees to take part in your employee referral programs by offering tempting incentives. Experiment with both financial and non-financial rewards. Also, make sure that you recognize and award the effort, not just the final results! Even a small “thank you” gesture can make your employees feel appreciated and keep them motivated to participate in your employee referral program.
How to use employee referrals for employee retention in tech?
Employee referrals can also improve employee retention. Surveys have found that referred candidates tend to stay longer with the company. After two years, retention of referred employees is 45% compared to 20% from job boards, according to FirstBird’s research.
In addition, LinkedIn’s research has found that referrers also stay longer. Employees who have successfully referred a candidate for an open position, stay longer with the company than employees that haven’t.
The secret of software developer recruitment and employee retention
The recruitment and retention of talented software developers essentially come down to understanding and listening to them. If you want to know about their wants and needs, simply ask (send out surveys, conduct focus groups, etc.), listen carefully and make sure to act on their feedback.
Reward your developers with a competitive salary, offer them opportunities for learning and career growth and build a company culture that makes them feel appreciated. If you treat your developers right, they will serve as your employer brand ambassadors and help you attract and hire new talented developers.
About the author
Anja Zojčeska is an HR manager and a Recruitment Marketing Specialist at the recruitment software company TalentLyft. She is curious about the latest marketing trends and passionate about applying them in recruitment.