How to Hire, Retain and Empower the Best Software Developers

Worldwide spending on IT is set to eclipse $4.4 trillion in 2022, and the demand for software developers continues to soar at an unprecedented rate. But great developers are increasingly difficult to find and even harder to retain. In fact, the U.S. tech industry has reached a 13.2% attrition rate — now the highest of any segment. 

Developers understand their importance, and they can dictate their terms. If you’re not giving these teams the remote workplace they demand, then get ready for them to close your company laptop and open someone else’s. 

A great workplace for developers needs to replace the feelings of purpose and belonging that can come from an in-person office while embracing the many potential productivity benefits of remote work. 

Think about how setting the right culture opens up opportunities for impact, growth and connection and how providing innovative and agile toolsets can spark communication and productivity. Both help attract and retain developers by giving them a fantastic place to work, free from friction and unnecessary distraction. 

Struggling to hire developers or losing the ones you have? Let’s explore what’s important and how you can build a workplace that will keep, engage and attract top-tier talent. 

Developing a digital workplace to support developers

What do software developers want out of their careers in 2022? According to a recent survey by Stack Overflow, 39% want to work with the latest technologies. This is where open source can come into play and serve a critical role.

The open source community provides many of the new technologies developers enjoy. The community is responsible for introducing popular programming languages like Go, JavaScript and Rust, which make it easier for developers to create code and produce high-quality work at high speed. Without open source we would not have cloud services like AWS, GCP or Digital Ocean. 

Open source acts as an accelerant for projects. Applications can be built and delivered faster with the aid of community contributions. Developers can also customize their technology stacks, optimize productivity and experiment with and learn new techniques from other open source projects. With all of these capabilities, it’s no wonder that one of the main reasons companies adopt and embrace open source is to increase developer satisfaction.

The risks of ignoring developer needs

What can you do to attract and retain the best software developers in today’s ultra-competitive environment? Remove friction and fragmentation and activate “flow”.

For many developers, the shift to remote work introduced new distractions, whether technology-related (“Oh great, another chat message.”) or otherwise (“Honey, the dog needs a walk. Again.”). Distractions impede developers from being able to produce and ship code and applications in an agile and productive manner. 

Therefore, one of your primary objectives should be to provide both new and current developers with tools that remove these distractions and allow them to focus with enjoying frictionless collaboration. That’s achievable by integrating toolsets and providing developers with complete visibility and control over the entire stack. 

This approach also minimizes frustrations derived from tool fragmentation. For many developers, fragmented tools are a top productivity challenge. That’s not surprising; it’s tough to get into a good development flow when everyone’s using different tools that don’t work well together. Fragmentation breeds frustration, causing workplace discontent that could lead to a developer exodus. 

Without tools that integrate into workflows, incidents pile up and distract engineers from doing what they do best: developing software. When developers are constantly interrupted and required to respond to every incident, they lose satisfaction in their work. 

And if engineers are frustrated, they will leave and take their talents and organizational knowledge with them. With the ongoing talent shortage, replacing skilled developers will only get more challenging. Avoid employee churn by prioritizing purpose-built collaboration platforms that help developers stay in the flow, reduce toil and increase efficiency. 

Why collaboration is vital to developers

In a remote-focused world, office perks like luxury workspaces are a thing of the past. Without these perks, it’s all about the digital experience you’re providing. This falls on CIOs and technology leaders to make the most important decision affecting workplace satisfaction: selecting tools for communication and productivity.

With developers facing unprecedented demand for their services, existing general-purpose collaboration solutions won’t cut it. These tools are poorly suited for engineering team workflows and modern digital operations. Additionally, they don’t offer the necessary levels of customization achievable with open source software or the option to deploy on-premise or in a private cloud. 

Integrating tools mitigates fragmentation and productivity-killing context switching while making it easier for teams to collaborate — highly coveted benefits for today’s developers. 

If your company can deliver on all these fronts, it stands a better chance of attracting and retaining valuable software development talent. You can begin building what Gartner calls an Employee Value Proposition (EVP) and avoid becoming one of the 90% of companies without an EVP, struggling to retain and hire talent. 

Developers will not settle for archaic processes and tools. They want to work somewhere they can make an impact, innovate, forge connections and experience growth. And they demand tools that help them achieve these goals.

About Corey Hulen

Corey Hulen is CTO and co-founder of Mattermost, Inc. Founded in 2016, Mattermost’s open source platform powers over 800,000 workspaces worldwide with the support of over 4,000 contributors from across the developer community. The company serves over 800 customers, including European Parliament, Nasdaq, Samsung, SAP, United States Air Force, Wealthfront and is backed by world-class investors including Battery Ventures, Redpoint, S28 Capital, YC Continuity. To learn more, visit