By some estimates, 40 percent of new employees who receive poor training leave their jobs within a year of starting. Not only is the attrition rate staggering, but it also puts a significant burden on HR departments to find new talent in an already constrained market.
Furthermore, dealing with the aftermath of employee departure is expensive. Replacing an employees can cost between 16 percent of their annual salary (for low-paying, hourly jobs) and 213 percent (for high-paying, highly trained roles)! Lose enough employees, and the cost quickly becomes prohibitive.
What Do Software Developers Really Want?
In 2014 and again in 2017, DevelopIntelligence commissioned a broad-based survey of hundreds of software professionals employed by companies across the United States in order to learn more about their motivations, concerns, frustrations, needs, desires, ambitions, experiences, and expectations.
The information we collected during these surveys was eye-opening to say the least. Companies concerned about finding and keeping great software developers should check out some of the key findings from the latest survey:
1. Software Developers in General Are Dissatisfied With the Amount of On-the-Job Training They Receive
Developers try their best to keep up with the latest trends in their fields, but they often feel they must do so on their own, without the support or encouragement of their employers. Seventy-one percent of the software professionals we surveyed told us their employers do not sponsor formal training programs on an annual basis. The developers reporting this all agreed that the lack of professional development impacted their ability to do their jobs.
2. Developers Looking for Training Strongly Prefer Traditional Instructor-Led Programs
As money-saving alternatives to traditional instructor-led training (ILT) initiatives, many companies have tried switching to virtual ILT courses or self-directed programs. While developers do appreciate the availability of video courses, online libraries, and other eLearning options, they would prefer to use these things as supplements to traditional, classroom-based ILT classes. Most developers believe that adding a social element to the training process makes knowledge acquisition easier, thanks to the direct feedback they receive during the learning process.
3. Most Software Developers Are Interested in Expanding Their Knowledge Base by Learning More About Software Architecture and Engineering
Software developers are ambitious, inquisitive, and passionate about their profession. Many desire to transition from development to engineering or architecture eventually; these developers are particularly interested in working for generous and forward-thinking companies that offer learning opportunities in these areas. Personal and professional growth is of paramount concern to software developers.
4. When Software Developers Aren't Given the Chance to Continue Perfecting Their Craft, They Will Look Elsewhere for Employment
Highly qualified software developers are in demand, which explains why unemployment rates in the industry are so low. With plenty of options to choose from, developers aren't the least bit reluctant to look around and see what else is out there. Developers are especially likely to explore other options if they're disappointed with the training opportunities (or lack thereof) available at their current employer.
The developers we surveyed made it clear they were supremely interested in skills attainment and knowledge advancement, and they were keenly aware of how important it is to stay up to date on everything software-related. Companies that aren't responsive to this attitude will have difficulty retaining their best developers over the long haul.
Train Them and They Will Come (and Stay)
Software developers are unanimous that training and education are absolutely vital if they are to perform to the best of their abilities. Too often, developers feel neglected, unappreciated, and overwhelmed, asked to do jobs they cannot do properly because they haven't been sufficiently trained in a field that moves forward at lightning speed. This is a problem everywhere in the tech industry, but software development is an especially tricky area because evolution of the technology is ongoing and the rules of the game are constantly changing.
For companies that employ and depend on software developers, carefully targeted training and education programs are an investment that will pay off in spades. Human resources departments looking to attract and keep the best software developers cannot afford to ignore this indisputable truth, which up to now has been swept under the rug by a penny-pinching ethic that costs companies dearly in the long run.
Kelby Zorgdrager is the CEO and founder of DevelopIntelligence, which creates comprehensive training solutions for software developers.