Like it or not, every business today is in the software business. Companies of every size and industry need engineers who can write powerful code that can improve the customer experience and drive revenue. But the demand for software engineers is high, and therefore, so is turnover. Companies that wish to retain talent must ensure that software engineers are happy with their jobs.
“Studies show that the highest employee turnover often occurs in engineering, accounting for 19% of all turnover studied,” writes Jenny Tannenbaum. With the job market for software engineers growing at a rate of 17%, retaining software engineers may actually become more challenging in the near future. The high turnover can be especially problematic if every time an engineer leaves your organization a crucial revenue-generating project is put on hold. To succeed at the software business, companies must realize a return on the six-figure salary they pay out to their developers.
Many of the practices that are recommended to improve general employee engagement also hold true for software engineers. However, there are subtle differences, and companies that take these differences into account are more likely to keep their engineers happy—and get their app to market before a competitor.
Autonomy and ownership tend to be valued by most employees, but it’s crucial for software engineers. “If you think you can keep a talented engineer on the team under a strict 8-5 timetable, you’re missing something important: creativity and inspiration don’t follow a schedule,” writes George Dickson for Bonusly.
Creativity and innovation require the ability to work when and where engineers are most inspired. “Provide whatever tools and infrastructure you can to help improve flexibility, so engineers are empowered to solve problems and make contributions from wherever they are,” writes Dickson.
A video collaboration solution is just such a tool. With video, engineers can work from anywhere and remain accessible to team members. Even better: There’s no need to rely solely on text chat or email. With video, engineers can have face-to-face meetings at the touch of a button. They can also share their screen to collaborate and problem solve with colleagues.
For managers that are only comfortable managing employees face-to-face, video collaboration allows them to bridge the gap between having to see their engineers and letting their team work when and where they are most productive. Managers can let go of the idea that engineers must work from a cube, while letting them have face time when needed.
Awareness of your organization’s mission is also key to keeping employees—and software engineers—happy. According to a Robert Half survey, employees who feel proud of their organizations are three times more likely to be happy at work versus those who do not feel proud of their organizations.
Organizations that allow engineers to work from anywhere run the risk of their engineers losing their connection with the company’s mission. It’s not unusual for remote employees to feel isolated and disconnected. Organizations can reduce that risk by using video to communicate. For example, the CEO can distribute video messages about the organization’s latest efforts to fulfill its mission, daily scrum meetings can be conducted over video and one-on-one video calls can ensure that engineers understand their role within the larger picture.
“Make sure you’re providing the necessary context for the projects you’re assigning,” explains Dickson. “Even the most menial tasks often have a great impact, and it’s your job to help them see it.”
When it comes to keeping software engineers happy, the value of employee recognition cannot be overstated. In fact, feeling appreciated is the second biggest driver of happiness amongst all employees, according to Robert Half. Software engineers are no different. They, too, want recognition for their contributions and achievements.
“If someone is making contributions that move your organization forward, it’s absolutely paramount that those contributions are recognized,” writes Dickson.
Recognition is much more powerful when it’s done face-to-face, whether that’s in a one-to-one video call or a video conference.
Finally, organizations can help keep their software engineers happy by fostering the team’s sense of community. Software engineering is a collaborative effort, and engineers need to feel like they’re part of a larger team, regardless of whether their closest teammate is five feet or five hundred miles away. Video can help here, as well. Virtual water cooler discussions and frog-kissing contests (where engineers are tasked with solving an everyday problem not related to the company’s core business) done over video can help create this community virtually.
Companies today can’t afford to lose valuable software engineering talent. The time and effort required to keep engineers happy is minuscule compared to the time and effort required to replace them and get derailed software projects back on track.