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It’s no secret that the way business is done has changed dramatically in recent years. The widespread digital transformation has forced companies across industries to recognize the value of the people building our new digital world: software developers.
While many tech companies struggle with layoffs and freezes, data shows that there has never been so much demand for developers, with thousands of new developer positions every day. On the heels of the Great Resignation, we see a shortage of developers unable to meet the skyrocketing demand. And unfortunately the hole shows no signs of closing.
Digital Ocean recently surveyed more than 2,500 developers around the world about their work environment, job satisfaction and the biggest challenges they face at work. What we found should be a concern for any business leader trying to keep pace in the digital world. More than 25% of experienced developers – those who have been employed for more than a year – started a new job in the past year, and 42% of those who haven’t are considering doing so. In other words, developers are quitting their jobs at a rate that almost double the overall average.
To ensure your organization isn’t hit by layoffs, it’s important for tech leaders to rethink their strategies for recruiting and retaining developers and tech staff. Below are four recommendations:
Related: The demand for IT continues
1. When it comes to work environments, developers crave flexibility
Our most recent Currents survey shows that compensation and a preference for flexible and/or remote work environments are one of the main reasons developers consider or have already switched employers. The question is whether tech giants like Tesla, Meta, Salesforce, Apple, Google and others have shot themselves in the foot with their rigid and sometimes controversial back-to-office plans.
DigitalOcean has had a flexible work policy for a long time, with more than half of our employees working remotely before the start of the pandemic. We are now completely remote, offering access to co-working space to anyone who wants it. Based on our low turnover, this approach has proven to resonate with our team and especially those with deep technical skills.
Developers are independent, digital-native people. Whether it’s fully remote, hybrid, or fully in-office, the most important thing is to listen to developers’ needs first and then give them the freedom to choose which work environment works best for them.
Related: The Master Employee Retention Tip for Tech Companies
2. Developers care about the community – and you should too
The developer community is as diverse as the companies they support and is made up of some of the brightest tech minds in the world. This community, as varied as they are, finds open source projects a place where they can come together, collaborate and contribute. However, not many companies give their developers the time or compensation to contribute to these projects, despite the fact that 64% of companies use such code for more than half of their software.
It is becoming increasingly important to listen to what is important to the needs and wishes of your staff. While you may not be able to fulfill every single wish list, listening will help you build trust with your employees, and as a bonus, identify opportunities for your business. By giving developers time to contribute to projects they care about (such as open source) while they are at it, you can show what is valuable to them and also help strengthen your tech stack.
Related: Why Low-Code Platforms Are the Solution to the Developer Shortage People Are Not Talking About
3. Drive Career Growth and Continuing Education with the Right Resources
Developers are known for lifelong learning and their role has evolved significantly in recent years. They are constantly learning new skills and programming languages, as well as applying the very latest technologies and methodologies, all to keep up with the pace of innovation. Companies need to be sure that developers have the educational resources, courses, training, tutorials and mentorship to keep their skills up to date.
This is not only true for career developers, but also for people who are completely new to the field. The popular developer job market has opened a door for the next generation of developers — many of them self-taught, running from a completely different field, or coming from non-traditional educational paths like coding boot camps — who may be going through a steep learning curve.
It is smart for business leaders to invest in their workforce, especially in technical areas. The opportunity for continuing education and further training will appeal to any developer candidate.
4. Remove Complexity from Developer Workflow
Another common developer complaint is: lack of time and resources to work on projects. This challenge is likely due to too much time being spent on more menial tasks, such as cleaning up code and creating documentation.
Arming developers with a simplified toolkit takes the manual work off their boards. This helps developers build faster and also frees up time to spend on creative, strategic work that actually impacts the business.
Software developers are a unique group of people who have long held many stereotypes against them in the corporate world. Now is the time for companies to reverse those stigmas to better understand this group and what they need to be successful – survival in the digital age depends on it.