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Reacting The Right Way

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I’m an HR manager preparing to pitch some new ideas to our executive leadership. I work for a mid-sized digital production studio. We forge long-term partnerships with major brands and government agencies, then together, leverage technology to advance their goals.

The company has grown extensively since it was founded back in 2010. I’ve only been with the group for a couple of years, but I’ve already observed a lot of growth. One of the biggest challenges we’ve constantly faced has been attracting and retaining top developers.

That’s what I’m supposed to present about in a few weeks. I was planning to discuss the possibility of incentivizing new talent and cultivating what we already have at the same time. Is that often a viable approach for tech companies? Some additional insight would be much appreciated.

The staffing dilemma that you’re describing is relatively commonplace, especially in the technology sector. Talented developers have never had more options at their fingertips. Competitive salaries and fringe benefits are rarely enough to convince top performers to remain loyal. In fact, the issue is ubiquitous enough at this point to merit a plethora of literature on the subject.

Taking outside perspectives into consideration is a critical first step. Leaders could begin by investigating the motives that drive employee departures. For instance, Suzan Bond at Fast Company wrote about the reasons why the best developers often quit. Ms. Bond reinforced the sentiment above when she asserted, “Too often, the tech industry’s usual slate of perks doesn’t have as much impact when it comes to retaining the most top-shelf, experienced talent.” Her article then goes on to introduce a series of more thoughtful incentives (e.g., mentorship, creative outlets, etc.). Very few of her prescriptions are especially complicated, but they do require active involvement and appropriate investment.  

Suzan isn’t the only one highlighting detrimental trends. Forbes contributor, Mike K., shared advice on how to keep your software developers engaged and happy. He boils things down to three main takeaways: creative freedom, mastery, and significant meaning. Creative freedom has to do with autonomy, mastery with skill progression, and significant meaning pertains to purposeful work. Creating a setting that’s conducive to all three is the ideal scenario whereas neglecting them is a recipe for disaster.

Finding ways to implement said guidance isn’t as difficult as it might seem. There are ample opportunities for those willing to openly experiment. One possible option for a production studio is offering React training courses to interested developers. Such a measure would stress the importance of technical competency and professional growth. The company could eventually benefit further from individual and collective progress.

As always, there’s likely to be at least a few skeptics regardless of the pitched solution. Convincing them that the risk is worthwhile is much easier said than done. In this particular case, instituting React and similar training would have a serious downstream impact. Writers at Thinkwik advocated heavily for it while explaining its rapidly expanding popularity. “Today, ReactJS has become highly popular because of its extra simplicity and flexibility,” declared the authors. “Many people are even referring to it as the future of web development.” Production studios definitely don’t want to arrive late when it comes to technology adoption.

There are other outspoken proponents, too. Natalia Chrzanowska at Netguru, another digital agency, shared her own thoughts about the React framework. She took an equally meticulous approach with her evaluation and, ultimately, found that ReactJS gives developers the balance they’ve long awaited. At the end of the day, these arguments are the tip of the proverbial iceberg. Only leadership can decide if such a move would influence favorable outcomes, but the onus is on middle-management and individual contributors to make those things a priority.


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Reacting The Right Way