What high turnover means for software development

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Workers got it – and software developers are no different.

High employee attrition is palpable across all industries, with the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics recording 4.4 million quits in September, the highest number measured since the start of the Openings Summary survey employment and labor turnover in 2000.

Among technical teams, staff turnover is now the norm, in part due to pent-up attrition in the days of the previous pandemic and the scarcity of talent supply in high-demand fields. Nearly four in ten executives say they face staff turnover in their technical teams, according to a survey of 700 senior IT and development decision makers published by PagerDuty.

IT people are “very excited to relocate because they see an opportunity,” said Bill Swanton, senior VP analyst at Gartner. “They see people making more money, they see a lot of job offers and not many people looking for them, so they feel very comfortable. [that] they could change jobs quite easily. “

Employers’ needs for workers are so high that companies have started to recruit younger talent. It is a candidate market, and those with skills in high demand are aware of it.

For software development teams accustomed to working together, frequent attrition can impact team dynamics, according to Chris Gardner, vice president and research director at Forrester.

“You change the chemistry of the team,” Gardner said. “If you have an Agile team that meets frequently, bringing new people to the team or losing people on the team can definitely affect that dynamic.”

With unemployment in computer jobs reaching record levels, the attrition phenomenon is showing no signs of slowing down. For executives trying to maintain consistency in software development, this means finding ways to increase retention while implementing solutions like consolidated DevOps practices that encourage consistency in software production.

Some companies plan to respond to technical team attrition by upgrading skills, taking existing workers and training them to fill talent gaps in areas that require special attention. But this approach is not a quick endeavor.

“As a general rule, if you are forming a new team, you will need [the team] up to a year to really shoot all the cylinders, “Swanton said.” You’re just not going to do what you set out to do. “

Revenue can impact organizations differently depending on their technology stack. Companies with hard-to-maintain legacy platforms are hit harder by the loss of institutional knowledge than those that upgraded on time.

“The fact that people are leaving organizations that have this inherited knowledge certainly still affects things, but in some situations these platforms have already been modernized, so they are less affected at this point,” Gardner said.

Tools and experiences

Executives looking to increase retention so that turnover is not an issue should assess their company’s position in terms of full work experience, said Fiona Mark, senior analyst at Forrester.

The first order of business is “an awareness of the importance of the overall employee experience and its impact on your ability to attract and retain tech talent,” said Mark.

For software developers, this could mean making AI-assisted development tools available, although questions remain about the maturity of the tools available, such as GitHub’s co-pilot.

Workers must feel like they are putting the best of their talents to work, “to make them feel that they are not just part of the machine, but that they are actually providing and using all of their unique abilities,” according to Mark.

But assuming attrition is here to stay, a review of work processes and tools is important, according to Gardner.

“If they’re leveraging holistic platforms to develop software, then losing people and replacing them has less of an impact,” Gardner said.

Half of enterprise development teams will move to a consolidated DevOps toolchain by next year, according to Forrester’s forecast. It’s a move that can reduce the impact of staff turnover on development teams, according to Gardner.

“There are people today who mine pieces of DevOps toolchains and put them together themselves. .


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