Without developers, software companies wouldn’t exist—and yet, the experience of these experts can be far from ideal. A recent report from Haystack found that nearly 80% of developers report being burned out and the pandemic isn’t even one of the primary factors. Despite similar job requirements, the experience of developers significantly varies across the industry, adding complexity to an already challenging job. Conflicting coding styles, communication styles and requirements from different teams conspire to make the development process inefficient and difficult and leave developers feeling overwhelmed. Between different organizations and even teams within the same organization, the differences in team culture and educational opportunities can lead to radically different job experiences for the same job title. To retain talented developers in the workforce and maximize their potential, the collective developer experience needs to be improved through a developer-first and inclusive culture and better access to professional development for developers at every level.
Build a Strong Culture of Documentation, Communication and Knowledge Sharing
One of the biggest challenges team leaders encounter is how to communicate key information between team members. Many developers are incredibly skilled at their trade but aren’t properly trained or given the time to work on sharing that information with either colleagues or end users. Having skilled technical writers means that the team can provide consistent, clear information about the software—and this is crucial for company success. Having technical writers on the team improves communication and efficiency and enables developers to more quickly and easily locate the resources and support that they need to perform their tasks
The developer’s goal is to innovate and build successful and maintainable systems. Achieving this requires good team processes and a solid system of documentation. Without user-facing documentation, adoption will suffer as users struggle to get things done with the system. Similarly, without documentation of the individual components, knowledge cannot be shared between teams and so the teams working on the application cannot collaborate effectively. A positive culture around documentation and investment in best practices by all contributors, including developers, makes a huge difference in how successful an organization can be.
Welcome Employees with Comprehensive and Constructive Onboarding
Strong communication is especially vital during the onboarding process; it’s one of the most important periods for developers early in their careers. Getting developers up to speed in a new team quickly is crucial—and streamlining education beginning during onboarding can make a big difference. Onboarding is a golden opportunity to bring new developers into the cultural fold and enable them to contribute to the team quickly. Doing so also reduces the risk of losing developers from the team.
Prioritize an Inclusive and Supportive Culture at all Levels
The experience of software developers is greatly influenced by the culture of the company they work for. The values of a company and the way that departments interact make a big impact on developers—and it’s not always a positive one. Opportunities for career development, promotions, mentorship programs and training are critical for all employees, but especially those in fields with the potential for high turnover or burnout like developers. Providing developers with resources to further their own understanding and mastery of the job—such as access to a budget for attending conferences and further study—is a critical investment for their success. Organizations both large and small must take initiative to ensure developers see a path forward for themselves at their current company and within the industry—or risk losing their talented developers entirely.
While developers’ experiences vary across the industry, between departments and even smaller internal teams, there is inherent value in improving communication, investment and culture on a micro and macro scale. To attract and retain highly skilled and innovative developers and ensure success for teams and companies as a whole, executive leadership must work with their developers to find a cohesive system and create an experience that works for everyone. Like any other specialized professional in a complex trade, developers are invaluable to their teams and community; advocating for the improvement of their work experience throughout their careers is the best way for tech companies to keep developers creating software that improves our world.