8 Secrets To Retaining and Motivating Developers

source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/waagsociety/8536919532/sizes/l/ cc 2.0 Your developers need to be at least as happy as this kid

A lot of software companies seem to have accepted that developers always jump ship every couple of years, sometimes even every couple of months. Well, we at Get[Devs] won’t stand for this. Surprisingly, keeping developers happy, productive and – most importantly – in your employ isn’t that hard. Here are a few things that we did to keep our best developers around for our clients.

  1. Make sure they fit the company culture. Start the retention process early by doing culture fit interviews aside from the usual skills tests. Make sure that their values, principles and goals clearly match those of the company. Also, observe them while they’re on probation. When you see that they are not a good fit, don’t hesitate to let them go immediately. “Hire slow, fire fast,” as they say.
  2. Make them part of the company vision and its goals. Tell developers specifically how their work will improve the company’s situation as well as involving them in decision-making and goal-setting.
  3. Provide an avenue for growth. “My company is still coding in Cobol, for crying out loud!” Hopefully, this isn’t what developers are saying about your company. Developers like to be productive and learning is a big part of that. Allow them to learn as well as apply new skills within the workplace, both on their own time and on the company dime. (By the way, we have nothing against classic languages like Cobol, but you get our point)
  4. Give them interesting problems to solve. Challenges motivate developers because they love solving problems. The bigger the challenge, the greater the satisfaction when they eventually solve it. Don’t limit them to tech problems; developers can also help solve thorny business problems as well.
  5. Implement flexible schedules in the office. In a study conducted by David Peetz and Cameron Allan (Griffith Work Time Project, 2003), they found that having a flexible schedule, or flexitime, had positive effects on technical staff. Flexitime gave developers control when they start and finish their work day, which generally meant that they often worked when their personal productivity was highest.
  6. Give them control over how they do work. This means no micromanaging, no passing of blame, and the encouraging developers to give their feedback and opinions. Allow them to solve the problems the way they want. Set objectives instead of giving specific instructions. You might be surprised with the solutions they come up with.
  7. Make them relevant. With the vast majority of people in the economy unhappy with their jobs, it’s increasingly important that your developers stay motivated and excited to work, not just thankful for a job. Money is okay as a temporary happiness boost but the real power lies in your ability to motivate from within.
  8. Engage them in a fun environment. As the adage goes, “happy employees are productive employees.” As much as your developers are problem solvers, don’t forget that they are humans too. Allow them to take a break once in a while and allow them to play their favorite MMORPG or watch their favorite YouTube channel.

See, it’s not that hard right? But you have to remember that everyone should be involved here, both product managers and developers. And don’t think you can get away with just doing these things for a month; it has to become a permanent part of your company culture. And hey, if you found this useful, go ahead and share it with your colleagues (or send it to your own project manager so he gets the hint).