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The 5 factors that most affect retention at software companies

A significant amount of work goes into finding the right talent to work at a software company. In fact, we recently explored how hard it can be at a time when supply and demand is so mismatched, and the biggest brands are quick to vacuum up the brightest applicants.

But by putting so much focus on hiring the right people, it’s easy to overlook an essential part of talent management: retention. From a business perspective, it’s smarter and cheaper to keep good people on board than hiring new talent when people move on.

To help drive staff retention, and keep your people invested for the long haul, we asked our team “what are the five factors that have the biggest impact on retention?” This is what they told us.

1. Personal progression

Few professions let people upskill based on their personal preferences. And that’s unfortunate, because setting time aside to do so can help boost productivity and morale.

“Most developers love to learn and experiment. And it’s so important to give them the freedom to mingle and learn new skills in areas that matter most to their personal progression,” says Per Ivansson, Board member for several of Monterro’s portfolio companies such as Palette and Viedoc.

2. Career progression

As well as offering opportunities for personal progression, providing flexible career paths and professional growth opportunities is key for retention.

Rather than keeping your people within a single area of the business, consider that some may be more productive in a different department. What’s more, if a team member feels underused and begins looking elsewhere for a challenge, help them find it within your organisation, rather than lose them to a competitor.

It makes more sense to support a move internally so you can keep all those skills and business knowledge in house.

3. Company culture

In an era where failing to deliver on your values can make or break your reputation as an employer, it’s important to build a culture your people will want to stay a part of.

“For many people, being part of a desirable working culture can be just as important as their salary,” says Johan Redtzer, Talent Manager at Monterro. “Be careful not to stifle the culture with rigid workflows – let people engage with the wider business, especially if you’ve expanded internationally.”

4. Company vision

In an industry rife with contract work, your employees may be tempted to jump from job to job. By aligning everyone around a clear vision, you can help people feel more invested in how they contribute to your company’s growth.

“A great team feels like flying together in a squadron,” says Johan. “You can’t buy that feeling. You need everyone working together towards a shared vision or else you risk people losing meaning in their work.”

Per agrees. “Get people excited. And don’t be scared to share product roadmaps with your people. They need to know what they’re working towards and why.”

5. The technology you use

“This is a big one,” says Per. “Developers are more interested in what they can achieve with the latest technology than chasing management roles. You can’t just sit a developer in a room with a random computer and say, ‘this is it, get busy’.”

We recommend involving developers in the decision-making process when exploring new technology to deploy. Ask them about their challenges, and what technology they want to see your company adopt to help drive productivity and innovation.

“The software industry changes all the time,” says Per. “There’s so much new technology to explore, and developers will want to take advantage of it.”

Are you doing right by your employees?

We understand how hard talent retention can be, but small changes can make a big difference to how your employees feel about their work.

By creating an environment that people want to stay in, you’re more likely to build happier, more productive teams. And with any luck, become a much-coveted talent magnet.

For more tips and insights about talent management, check out our  Field guide to talent management eBook.