How to Retain Software Developers in Your Startup? | DistantJob - Remote Recruitment Agency
Managing Remote Developers

How to Retain Software Developers in Your Startup?

Sharon Koifman
Founder and Remote CEO at DistantJob - - 3 min. to read

Finding software developers already presents a demanding task, requiring the use of the right strategies and hiring processes. But even after you successfully hire a skilled programmer, a new challenge emerges: the task of retaining them.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics shared that the average turnover rate in the information industry stood at 38.72% between 2017 and 2021. This rate equals the proportion of employees who left, whether voluntarily or involuntarily, from their respective companies.

Having a high turnover rate implicates a financial burden equivalent to 1.5 to 2 times the departing employee’s annual salary. These costs, however, do not include hidden expenses like recruitment and hiring, as well as the effort to regain lost productivity. 

So, how can you keep software developers engaged? Let’s find out. 

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What is Developer Retention?

Developer retention is the ability of a company to keep its software developers and prevent them from leaving the organization. 

It’s all about coming up with plans and actions to bring in, connect with, inspire, and back up developers so they have a positive work experience.

According to data from LinkedIn, it has been found that employee turnover rates among tech companies average at 13.2%. However, this turnover rate significantly rises to 21.7%, specifically for embedded software engineers.

Why is It Important to Attract and Retain Software Developers?

Attracting and retaining software developers is key to ensuring that your company has the skilled team it needs to create and maintain quality software products.

Additionally, high turnover rates are costly for organizations due to all the expenses involved. The cost of a bad hire is at least 30% of the employee’s wages for the first year. When you manage to hold onto your developers, you also save a significant amount of money and effort that would otherwise be spent on constantly recruiting and training new staff.

Having long-term software developers on your team brings greater consistency and stability. Developers who’ve been with the company for a while are well-versed in the organization’s systems, processes, and codebase, which translates to increased productivity and efficiency.

8 Developer Retention Best Practices

1. Promote a Healthy Work Culture 

Burnout and stress are leading factors for developer retention. A study conducted by Kronos Incorporated and Future Workplace found that 46% of HR leaders say employee burnout is responsible for up to half (20% to 50%, specifically) of annual workforce turnover. 

If you are running a startup, most of your internal documentation and procedures will be a work in progress. At this stage, it is vital to monitor the amount of work and tasks you give to your development team. Make sure that the workload doesn’t decrease productivity. Work with your team on time management to prioritize tasks and not overwhelm your team. 

Especially at the beginning, startup roles and responsibilities are more flexible, and a team ends up arranging more meetings leading nowhere. Make sure to make the collaboration across departments effective, avoiding the feeling of wasting the time and effort of your team. 

2. Offer Fair Compensation

If a software developer isn’t engaged in your team, as soon as they receive a job that pays more, they will take it without thinking twice.

And many times, the problem isn’t the initial salary negotiation but it’s how you keep them compensated over time. Frequently, companies onboard new hires at competitive market rates, yet their long-standing employees often find themselves trailing behind.

This inadvertently pushes loyal employees to consider alternative opportunities, as they do not feel valued compared to their market worth. 

3. Equip Your Developers with the Latest Tools

When your team has the latest tools, they get to experiment, enhancing their learning curve, creativity, and overall job performance. 

But beyond productivity, giving your team the right equipment boosts their morale. Developers thrive on innovation, so offering them access to the latest technology also demonstrates how the organization is invested in their growth. 

Considering that skilled developers are in high demand, they’re more likely to stay in your company if you provide them with the tools they need to excel. Otherwise, it can lead to frustration and the risk of losing valuable members. 

4. Provide Opportunities for Career Advancement

Fostering career advancement opportunities for your developers is not only a way to acknowledge their dedication but also a strategic move for retention, especially in the dynamic startup landscape. 

How can you achieve this? By entrusting them with more responsibilities and projects so they can gain more skills and grow. 

In the startup environment, where small teams often prevail, vertical progression, such as moving up to a Lead Developer or even a VP role, can be more attainable. This path offers not just increased compensation but also a sense of prestige and ownership, making your software developer feel valued and motivated to stay. 

You need to keep your team members engaged and give them the opportunity to grow in your company. Especially for remote businesses, internal hiring is the best strategy to retain your developers and build a solid company culture.

5. Offer Learning Opportunities

In nurturing a thriving work culture that keeps software developers deeply engaged, sometimes it’s the less conventional strategies that make the biggest impact. 

Drawing from experience, we’ve found that gamifying learning and development can be a game-changer. Transforming skill-building into an engaging challenge, complete with rewards, badges, and friendly competition, not only makes professional growth more enjoyable but also keeps developers motivated to upskill continuously.

Hackathons and dedicated innovation time are another ace up the sleeve. Providing developers the freedom to work on personal passion projects or explore new technologies during structured periods ignites their creativity and enthusiasm. 

This sense of ownership over their work not only bolsters their engagement but often leads to groundbreaking innovations that benefit the organization.

6. Listen to Them

Not all developers want the same things. And sadly, some managers, rather than encouraging their team, end up being the main reason why developers leave.

A Gallup study found out that 50% of 7200 adults surveyed left their jobs to escape a certain manager.

This statistic demonstrates the level of influence leadership holds over job satisfaction. When leaders foster an environment built on trust, mutual respect, and a shared sense of growth, it not only helps retain talent but also cultivates a workplace culture where developers can reach their highest potential.

7. Recognize Their Achievements 

According to Quantum Workplace, the reason #3 why people leave their jobs is the lack of recognition.

In a startup environment, recognizing the effort of developers takes on even greater significance. 

Startups often operate in fast-paced, high-pressure settings where every team member’s contributions are crucial to success. 

Acknowledging developers’ hard work not only boosts their motivation but also strengthens their attachment to the company during the early, often turbulent phases of a startup’s journey. 

8. Involve Them in Planning

Involving developers in transparent decision-making processes can be a key strategy, particularly in the startup landscape. 

The dynamic nature of startups often demands nimble adaptability and innovative thinking from every team member. When developers are actively engaged in decision-making, it revitalizes their sense of purpose and ownership in the company’s vision and direction.

By giving them a seat at the decision-making table, startups not only harness their expertise but also instill a profound sense of responsibility and pride in the overall success of the venture.

Believe It or Not, It All Starts With The Hiring Process

Retaining and engaging remote developers is much easier when you work with people who match your startup’s culture and dynamics. 

This synergy between remote developers and the startup’s culture sparks innovation by enabling diverse perspectives and ideas to flourish, ultimately enhancing the startup’s competitive edge.

So, how to find the right developers for your startup? By partnering with experts.

At DistantJob, our culture-centric hiring approach focuses not only on meeting technical prerequisites and conducting comprehensive technical assessments but also on identifying remote developers who align seamlessly with your startup’s unique culture and values

Plus, we also take care of all HR processes and onboarding. Want to know more? Let’s talk. 

Sharon Koifman

Sharon Koifman, the founder and remote president at DistantJob, specializes in recruiting top remote developers and spearheading remote workforce strategies. Sharon's approach combines cutting-edge remote recruitment practices with a deep commitment to building effective, globally distributed teams.

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Let’s talk about scaling up your team at half the cost!

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