According to StackOverflow’s latest yearly survey of 50,000+ developers, these are the Top 5 reasons developers stay happy in their jobs:
#5: They believe in your company’s mission.
It’s cliché, I know, but it turns out it’s even true for developers.
And really, it’s one of the basic truths of life — we all want to follow some sort of mission that gives meaning to what we do.
Otherwise, you’re just a code monkey.
I’ll give you an example — the mission of my own development company, X-Team, is this…
To create a flatter world where extraordinary developers have access to incredible opportunities regardless of where they live.
Considering our developers come from 30+ countries and believe in living without borders, it’s a mission they can grasp and relate to. They want to be a part of that sort of movement.
What movement is your company leading, and do your developers care about it?
#4: They get to improve an existing app.
Developers love getting to walk in to a new job, see a giant mess, and be the superhero who gets to re-write, re-factor, or optimize the crap out of the existing crap.
The same is true for most jobs. Who doesn’t want to get the credit for making a site load 10x faster, or making videos load ads faster and ultimately make the company more money?
Some call it ego, others just like a good challenge. Either way, developers have a little Barney in them…
#3: They get control over product decisions.
Now I can already see every product manager reading this reacting like so:
The thought of a developer having any say in a product’s direction can be terrifying.
But what I’ve found is often the case is an unnecessary wall between development and product teams. Both sides think they’re against each other and that neither side wants to hear each other’s opinions.
In reality, it’s the opposite. Dev teams want to collaborate with product (as evidenced by this finding), and product teams want to hear from dev teams about new tech and how to make their products cooler.
But you’ll never get there until you open the communication and let each side have a seat at the big boys table.
#2: They get to build something new.
If you force a developer to keep maintaining an old, outdated codebase and never get an opportunity to play with the new tech that their buddies are talking about at the bar, they won’t stick around long.
Even if your codebase is outdated, find opportunities to let your developers build small tools with new tech as side projects that help your company in another way.
#1: They keep learning and growing.
The top reason is quite simple. It’s not getting to work from home or big pay increases.
It’s learning and growing. Becoming more than you are today.
And it comes as no surprise to me.
Why? Because nearly two years ago, we decided (at X-Team) to test the theory that developers are happiest when they are learning and growing.
If we helped push developers to grow a little every day, would they be happier in their jobs?
We believed we could create our highest retention and satisfaction rates since we started in 2006.
And we were right.
We even wrote a book about it:
To achieve such incredible results, we first created a team of people dedicated to helping each developer learn and grow each day.
We called them “unleashers.” People who continuously check in with and support developers with all of their growth goals.
People who help each developer unleash their potential.
We also support each developer financially in achieving those goals.
Would attending a conference help support a goal toward reputation building or learning new things? We’ll cover it.
Would an egghead.io course help you learn React? We’ll cover it.
We also then created an interface to help us track everyone’s growth over time so they could have a sense of progress and show it on a stage in front of their peers.
It blows our mind every time we survey our developers and hear how much they appreciate how we help them grow.
The most important thing to realize about hiring and retention in 2016 is this:
People join companies expecting to grow.
And the second they realize there’s no future of growth for them at your company, they’ll move on to better opportunities.
So yes, offering developers the chance to work remotely is a great way to attract great talent.
But you have to follow through on helping them learn and grow.
And when you do, you’ll be amazed at how much they’ll help your company learn and grow at the same time.