How to Keep Your Developers Engaged

Generic code picture to show engaged developers.

Retaining good developers is a critical task that companies have to actively pursue. Developers need to be supported, engaged, and interested in the work; otherwise, boredom in their role could lead to them seeking opportunities elsewhere. Whether you are a company leader, team lead, or a developer yourself, understanding what attracts and interests developers to staying at a job is important. 

Providing developers with great tools to assist their work is a useful measure, but we need to do more to keep them interested. So, how do you keep your development team engaged and enthusiastic? What tactics can you employ that will sustain and encourage focus and innovative thinking? 

Keeping Developers Engaged

Salaries 

Salaries are one of the most powerful factors in an employee’s consideration of a job, whether in keeping a position, or looking for a new one. Providing strong salary options is a surefire way to generate interest. 

For employers, it is important that you keep an eye on what the market is paying developers, and ensure you remain in step with it. Offer competitive benefits, and utilize salary expectations to gauge what possible employees are looking for.  

For many people, not just developers, a good wage structure is important. A strong foundation is the best start to keeping them engaged. Both company leaders and developers should ensure their salary system is fair and consistent with the market trends. 

Career Paths

Nobody wishes to be stuck at the same position for their entire professional life. Make it clear to your developers that there are real opportunities for career advancement in your company. Whether in a small organization or working within a large multinational company, all developers wish for strong career-growth opportunities. 

Look at how you can expand their responsibilities in such a way that they have new challenges to look forward to. Can they take additional learning opportunities to improve existing skills, and giving them new ones? Can you make their job package better by adding things such as bonuses, PTO options, and promotions?

With remote working increasing, this could be something that appeals to your developers, but it can also throw up some unique challenges, so you must learn how to manage your remote development team

Keep Developers Equipped

As the advancement of technological tools continues at breakneck pace, your dev teams will need to be outfitted with current-day software to ensure they can produce the best results in the most efficient manner. The explosion of Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) companies in recent years is something that can keep developers up to date without breaking your budget. 

If your developer is still working with last year’s models, they’re going to feel stifled and restrained in the work they do. And if you’re not willing to move with the tech, they may find a company that does. Ensure they have the APIs (application programming interface) they need i.e. ones that can help automate content workflow when required 

This is an area where you can make your developer feel more valued. You may have little idea about what’s what with tech. Your developer does – that’s their job. They’ll tell you what they need and explain why they need it, especially if you have many questions (what is a private cloud?, what is regression testing?, etc).  

Listen to them and be receptive. Keeping them updated means they can complete their great work quicker and with better results.

Nurture Creativity 

Developer work is highly creative, and giving them the platform to be innovative is extremely important. They find solutions to problems, create new and better ways of doing things, and help develop better software and platforms, such as intelligent file ingestion tools

With that in mind, help nurture and unleash their creative mind. Don’t just have your development team working on routine, everyday tasks; let them use their skills and knowledge to their full capacity and give them flexibility in their schedules to come up with new ideas and ways of doing things. That creative spark could contribute to your profitability. 

Listen 

Not every idea your developers put forward will end up making it all the way through, but giving them the support to put all their thoughts out is extremely important. The best way to show your developer teams how valued they are is to listen to what they have to say. 

Make a committed effort to improve your development team’s communications, both with you and with each other. Gauge your developers’ happiness with their work life, and see what can be improved upon, through regular one-on-one meetings. Whether you meet face-to-face or via an online meeting, communication with your employees is crucial.

Performance management tools can efficiently monitor feedback and ensure personal and organizational goals are aligned to maintain open communication with your developers.  

Clarity 

While we do want a certain degree of ‘free creativity’ in our development team, we also need certain set tasks carried out. To help keep your team engaged and interested, clarity is essential. 

Designate roles and responsibilities. Whether they work on ongoing projects like application maintenance, or task-focused responsibilities such as program development, developers will appreciate having clearly defined roles for them to work within. Your dev team will be more focused and goal-oriented if they know what they are working on, and what the timeline for completion is. 

Environment 

While some in your workforce might flourish in busy and noisy environments, others might prefer an entirely different working arrangement to produce their best results. Where an open-plan office space may work well for your sales team, it may not suit developers, or vice versa. 

This can be another case of listening to what your development team wants. If they require separate workspaces free of distraction, see if you can accommodate them. If your model is already open-plan, see if you can incorporate quiet spaces/meeting rooms that give them refuge when they want to concentrate on a project. And have the team agree on a code of etiquette for shared space. 

Developer to Leader

These points are not solely for company leaders or upper administration. Many developers themselves grow into project managers and other leadership roles, and they will have to tackle these same concerns. Facilitating communication, providing and maintaining up-to-date technological tools, and supporting creativity and innovation will be crucial tasks for any developer team head to handle, regardless of background experience. 

Furthermore, developers should keep an eye on how their company is treating them. Knowing what factors influence leadership to make decisions in treating developers will be useful for any programmer or architect to know, regardless of whether or not team leadership is in their career goals. 

The Takeaway

Developers are constantly pushing the bounds of the possible, innovating new ways to solve old problems, and discovering new questions in the process. As such, company leaders should make every effort to retain their developers, and provide them with the tools and the support to foster their creative collaboration.

Companies need to have important discussions with their developers about salaries, career growth and advancement, and the necessary equipment for the job. Above all else, however, companies need to listen to their developers, and understand what they need.

Whether you read this from the perspective of a company head, an aspiring team leader, or a developer yourself, you should understand what keeps developers engaged, interested, and productive, and able to do their great work.


Marjorie Hajim is the SEO Manager for EMEA at RingCentral, a leading cloud communications company that provides VoIP and video conferencing services. She develops and executes strategies for short-term and long-term SEO growth. In her spare time, she loves reading books at coffee shops and playing with her dogs.

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