Why Are So Many Software Developers Quitting Their Jobs?

 


When the grass looks greener on the other side of the fence, it may be that they take better care of it there. Cecil Selig

The article Who Is Driving the Great Resignation? it states that millions of people are quitting their jobs. Some facts from the article

  • 4 million people quit in America (not just developers)
  • In tech, resignations increased by 4.5%
  • 30 to 45 years have the greatest number of resignations making 20%
  • This article states 21% of developers are looking to leave their current job

There are more developers resigning, combined with a predicted shortage of software developers — The 2021 Software developer shortage is coming.

During covid many workforces worked remote, this sped up companies digital and cloud strategies. An increase in software means a bigger demand for software developers.

When demand for developers is greater than supply, it leads to companies offering higher wages and they fight to hire developers.

There are several forces combining to make a higher demand for developers, which pushes up the wages. Remote working reduces relationships and increases burnout.

This article will look into the details of why developers quitting in greater numbers.

Incremental pay, not average pay

More software needed → more developers needed → companies paying higher wages to hire developers.

The question is why aren’t companies offering their current developers more money or the average wage to stay?

The way most companies pay software developers is to give them an incremental pay increase each year, let’s say 5 percent. After roughly two years, the experience, skills, and knowledge the developers have gained are now more valuable than two 5 percent pay increases.

A gap opens between what the developer is being paid and what they can get paid if they move jobs. This didn’t use to be a problem until LinkedIn started to regularly update developers on potential jobs and their wages regularly.

If you are on £50000 and you are getting jobs for £60000 or £70000 per year, then you now need a reason other than money to stay at that company.

Developers could get paid 20% to 50% more for doing the same job. If a developer works out how long they would need to stay to get that wage, it becomes a bigger issue.

  • 4 years to get £60000
  • 7 years to get £70000

Money by itself isn’t a motivator, but once a developer realizes other developers with similar experiences are getting paid more, it then becomes a factor.

The majority of developers don’t move for money but it is a contributing factor, who wanted to be paid more money to do the same job.

Burnout

With everyone working remotely it has lead to an increase in burnout of developers. It’s harder to stop working without the natural pause for a commute home. 83% of Developers Suffer From Burnout and 81% Said It’s Gotten Worse During Covid.

Working from home makes it easy to keep working and covid removed the possibility for social activities.

Remote working lead to hours upon hours of teams meetings, this left developers with less time to develop software (Is Meeting Overload the Cause of Increased Burnout in Developers?).

To combat having fewer hours to develop, many developers tried to work harder to fix the problem, which lead to developing in their own time.

A side effect of working longer hours for a long time is burnout and possible breakdown.

A common reaction to burnout is not to fix the problem with the company they work for but to move to a company that isn’t going to burn them out.

Why Is No One Talking About the Need to Reduce Developer Burnout? Burnout is a serious problem that developers and managers should talk about and put plans in place to catch before it happens.

Burnout will lead to developers moving companies, looking for better working conditions.

Developers seen as technical resources

Developers can be seen as technical resources, you can replace one technical resource with another.

They do not create developers equally, there is a big difference between good and bad developers. The difficulty for managers is at a glance it’s hard to tell the difference between your star developers and the average developers following their lead.

The mistake many managers are making is they are not giving enough appreciation to developers. The good developers who are doing extra work are not having their effort recognized and rewarded.

Developers are getting frustrated by the lack of recognition and difficulties getting promoted. Combining lack of recognition, difficulty getting promoted, burnout and a growing market for developers is a deadly mix.

Many developers are saying they have had enough and moving on.

Remote working

Covid resulted in all developers remote working. Remote working has its advantages regarding no time lost to commuting, fewer distractions, more time for hobbies, and a better work-life balance.

Remote working allows you to take jobs anywhere in the world and not limit a developer to jobs near their location. Employees don’t have to wear suits and can work in shorts and a t-shirt.

Remote working jobs are here to stay, and some employers are worried, has some interesting statistics

  • 42% of employers telling Hackajob they were considering remote candidates.
  • Most employers surveyed by Hackajob (84%) reported they were moving to a hybrid model that combined office and remote working
  • 53% of tech workers said they wouldn’t consider taking a pay cut to work remotely

The negatives of remote working

There are disadvantages to remote working that companies are starting to discover. Microsoft surveyed 9000 of its employees and 82% of senior executives report seeing productivity

Microsoft’s survey of 9000 of its staff had interesting results

  • 61% of managers felt they couldn’t delegate effectively remotely
  • leaders are reporting a decrease in innovation around core products and services
  • There is a reduction in sense of purpose
  • Collaborating and innovation is harder remotely due to a lack of relationships

This quote from the report is interesting

“However, the cost seems to be a loss of sense of purpose, which at work, is largely driven through strong and cohesive relationships and seeing how your tasks have impact on others.”

It’s easier and quicker to build relationships with people face to face, you go to lunch together, you talk at the water cooler and you talk about nonwork topics. These interactions build connections and relationships, which are not as easy or common remotely.

Remote working leads to fewer and weaker relationships, consequently, there will be fewer reasons to stay at a company if you work remotely. People play a key part in software development, some of the actions are

  • Software developers help each other with knowledge, ideas, and experience
  • People push initiatives and create internal tools as teams
  • Talking and meeting with each other adds fun
  • Influencing, persuading, and motivating is more successful in person
  • People help people
  • Software development is a team game

I’m not saying the activities don’t happen remotely but they are not as effective or as enjoyable remotely. Many good ideas and initiatives have started life down the pub or cafe.

It’s harder to build relationships with people remotely but many of the companies are still working based on the relationships build before remote working.

The lack of relationships means it’s easier for developers to move companies because they have less reason to stay. If you don’t have strong relationships with your colleagues then you might as well move to another company and work for more money.

Opportunity

The growth of low-code development tools is making more developers not reducing the number of existing developers.

Low-code development tools allow you to create software without writing code, the sales pitch is you can train nontechnical people. Low-code is a tool and junior/inexperienced developers will need to be lead by experienced developers.

Low-code development teams are springing up and need experienced developers to set them up and lead them. This is offering a great opportunity for developers to push their careers forward and take leadership roles.

There are better roles and more money, which is tempting many developers to move.

Developers are in demand

“Tech workers are in demand and our data shows it is a buyer’s market now, so employees seem to be in the driver’s seat.” Chaffey — Remote working jobs are here to stay, and some employers are worried

Companies accelerated their digital transformations and this requires lots more developers to build and support the additional software.

When demand for developers is greater than the supply of developers then people win the hiring competition by offering more money. Developers are in demand and recruitment consultants are alerting developers to the wages they can get.

Training + career development

Developer Careers can get Stuck in a Loop — Eat → Sleep → Code → Repeat, they focus all their time and effort on project work, they forget to put time towards progressing their career.

In many companies, there isn’t much guidance to help developers progress their careers and poor training is provided. Developers can work hard but yet go little reward, You Need More Than Great Code To Be A Successful Developer.

At many companies, developers can hit a wall, where the is no room to progress at the company because the role they want is already taken. In this situation sometimes developers need to move to progress their career because they are ready for a bigger role and it’s not available.

This isn’t different with remote working but I feel developers' patience has been worn down due to the various reason covered in this article. Opportunities for better roles and better are available and tired developers are keen to embrace new opportunities.

Conclusion

The growing demand for developers is offering better roles and more money and many developers are taking advantage of this.

Paying incremental pay rises means developers experience is after 2 years worth more than the wage they are paid. Usually, this isn’t enough to cause most developers to move because it’s easier to stick with what you know.

Lots of developers are suffering burnout or minor burnout, combined with lack of recognition and difficult career progression is causing developers to consider moving. LinkedIn provides a constant update on the wages they could be earning.

Remote working makes it easier for people to move because it feels less like they are working with people.

I think developers moving in greater numbers will continue for at least the next six months.

I will leave you with a Buffett quote on how to act in the face of opportunity

“Opportunities come infrequently. When it rains gold, put out the bucket, not the thimble” ― Warren Buffett

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