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With tech talent in great demand, how can employers retain their key developers?

Even though recruitment and retention is sometimes perceived as an ‘HR problem’, when it comes to tech talent, getting the environment, culture, pay, benefits and ‘interest’ factor to hang on to hard-to-find developers is a company-critical issue and should be high on the agenda of the CTO.

As more businesses move towards digital transformation, developers are increasingly crucial to the modernisation plans.  In almost every sector these days, the business plans for cloud migration could be seriously impacted by the loss of a senior developer or project manager, so the C-Suite need to work together more closely than ever before – and it’s not all about salary.

CTOs should be working with HR on talent attraction, with the CFO on finding a budget for staff motivation, talking to the Facilities team to ensure that the office is modern and attractive and collectively creating a workplace wellbeing and engagement plan that makes work such a great place to be that your best talent wouldn’t dream of going anywhere else!

The big tech guys at Silicon Valley already know this, and perks from unlimited annual leave to excellent parental benefits (after all, the original crews who loved beanbags and slides are now grown up) are practically expected these days.

In some sectors of the market the focus Is still on a fun and exciting work environment – this is especially true for people working in the gaming sector.  There is a continuous drive to make something bigger, better and bolder than the competition, with ongoing upgrades, and games and tournaments accessible on multiple devices and platforms.

These developers are expected to create more fun in their coding, so they need to be having fun at work.  In these environments, it’s all about culture, so you will find pool rooms, gaming is encouraged, alongside trendy offices and a friendly culture.  Core to the operation, developers are well paid and are usually given the tech they need to do their job.  UK employers like want to attract the best talent and understand that creativity thrives best in a creative environment.

This can’t be said of every sector, though, and corporate environments are often at a disadvantage when it comes to finding the best developers.  As businesses increasingly move towards a digital workplace, a corporate environment can prove stressful, with very tight deadlines, the need to work with multiple departments and liaise more with non-technical staff, sometimes without the best equipment and not always within their ideal budgets for time, finance and manpower.  One person leaving the team adds to the stress and in larger teams, one person leaving can create a domino effect – and this means project deadlines have to move, creating external pressure too.  It’s also harder for employers in this sector to add in the ‘fun perks’, because the rest of the workforce won’t appreciate why developers get to play pool while they can’t.

In these environments, the best solution is to provide support for the whole workforce, making sure that there are plenty of opportunities to socialise outside work, plenty of mental health support, exercise benefits, PMI, childcare support, excellent communication and an excellent wellbeing plan.

Low code software can help ease some of the stress, ensuring that your developers time is spent on more specialist input and supervising the project – but before implementing anything, step one is to talk to your tech leaders, ask their advice and take it.  Ultimately, people like to be included in decisions which affect them – engage your tech talent from the get go, and they are more likely to stay engaged.