Deficit of Developers

Deficit of Developers

A state of the industry report

The COVID-19 pandemic brought many challenges for businesses and industries around the world – among them, attracting and retaining engineering talent. As the needs and wants of employees change and businesses undergo major transformations, there is a growing shortage of software developers. Hiring and retaining quality talent is increasingly becoming an issue for major firms, small businesses, and consulting firms alike. 63% of senior executives are concerned about the software engineer shortage and its future impact.

While the software engineer shortage is a challenge, it can certainly be resolved with open discussion, innovation, and creative problem solving. As a technology consulting company, Rivers Agile is facing many of the same problems as other industry leaders when it comes to recruiting talent. We’d like to share what we know about the current software engineer shortage and start a collaborative discussion to work together to find resolutions.

Action is cheaper than inaction.

What is the true cost of turnover? We know what we’re up against – roughly 50% of employed Americans intend to make a career change because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Whether they’re seeking flexible or remote work, a raise or promotion, or are interested in changing industries, that turnover is both costly and disruptive. High turnover rates impact company morale, productivity, and the bottom line. With current employee data, we know the attrition rate is over $10,000 (or the impact to profit per lost employee). Before COVID, implementing a strong retention strategy was beneficial – today it’s crucial.

Employees are suffering from pandemic burnout.

Burnout is always a concern for high-achieving, quality talent. This is true for software engineers, especially as they take on additional responsibilities during the pandemic. Unfilled tech vacancies are due in part to high turnover in the tech industry, and when one employee leaves another must shoulder their responsibilities.

While acknowledging burnout is important, it is not enough. Organizations must take extra steps to understand the needs of their employees and actively prevent burnout. From redistributing responsibilities to supporting mental health, there are countless ways employers can prevent or resolve burnout among their workforce, and especially with software engineers.

Understanding the causes of burnout and developing solutions requires a great deal of listening. Surveying employees on their current level of job satisfaction is a great first step, but we must then put those insights into action.

The hiring process for software engineers is outdated.

Many developers have already forgone the traditional path of an elite college education, and not enough software engineers are graduating each year to fill the growing shortage. However, the pandemic has opened even more doors for online learning and self-taught skills among software engineers. The industry pulse is transitioning from the standard hiring process for software engineers, and employers must think outside the box.

You could spend hours reviewing resumes and weeding out potential candidates based on outdated standards, or you could save time by implementing a skills assessment into your hiring process. Candidates that may have been overlooked based on their educational or work background could be missed opportunities. Judging candidates based on their skillset and teachability can help you hire faster and add valuable talent to your team.

Software developers will not settle.

Priorities are changing for employees because of the pandemic. The health and wellness of their family and loved ones as well as their own wellbeing are more important than any job. Most of the current workforce has enjoyed working from home, saving time and money on their commute, spending more time with loved ones, and enjoying a flexible, but productive work schedule.

Software engineers, especially, will no longer settle for just any job. They expect competitive compensation for their workload and skills, opportunities for growth, and robust benefits. Instead of altering their life to fit a job, professionals in all industries are forcing the job to fit their lifestyle. In some cases, tech employees are willing to trade pay for job attributes they value, such as learning new IT systems and developing their skills, even if that position is outside a traditional tech company.

Regardless of industry companies are wising up – offering increased benefits and pay when recruiting tech talent. For the companies who fall behind in this area, an increase in churn and a decrease in employee satisfaction and performance can be expected. Open discussion is needed to better understand what software engineers want out of a job and how adept companies can fulfill those needs.

Digital transformations require more software engineers.

The COVID-19 pandemic did not cause the shortage of software engineers. The US was already experiencing a shortage of almost 1 million software engineers in 2019 before the pandemic, but the pandemic certainly accelerated the problem. As technology advances rapidly, the demand for software developers will continue to increase. Advances in machine learning, increased cloud workloads, and rapid innovation creates more tech vacancies each year. If organizations want to hire quality talent, they may have to create their own training and educational programs to support a growing need.

Now is the time for employers to adapt.

Overall, there are many factors contributing to the software engineer shortage, and it will become an ever-increasing problem if left unchecked. Any company that refuses to adapt will find themselves without the resources they need for success. Has your company encountered the same challenges with attracting and retaining engineering talent? Good or bad, we need to take a hard look at hiring trends during the pandemic and what that means for the future. Together, we can overcome the obstacles of finding quality talent, rethink our recruitment and retention strategies, and establish best practices for moving forward. At Rivers Agile, we believe that working together and developing collaborative solutions is the only way to reduce the shortage and provide a quality work environment for software developers in the future. We’d love to hear from others in tech leadership about strategies to combat this industry challenge.