Engineer Retention (part 1): A top priority

Engineer Retention (part 1): A top priority

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Why Engineer Retention is important

Engineers - of all of your employees - are the ones most likely to quit. Engineers have a turnover rate of nearly 11-15%. This rate will be higher since big corporates start to hire developers in Viet Nam after Covid-19. Hence, they’re constantly being tempted by other offers. According to LinkedIn, engineers receive more InMails per person than any other occupation. Any company hoping to succeed in the long term will need to give retention precise and careful thought.

Keep your employee retention a top priority

The current engineering skills gap has made hiring difficult for employers. But it created a new opportunity. With a shortage of candidates available on the job market, shifting the focus inward and improving relations with existing talent can help companies hold on to the top performers long enough to weather the storm. The fact that hiring new members always hurts companies.

How poor retention hurts

Recruiting a replacement is expensive. Replacing employees costs a lot of money. A company must spend significant time and financial resources to search for the best talent through advertising, recruitment agencies, screening, interviewing, and hiring. It costs as much as 33% of an employee's annual salary to replace them.

  • Low retention leads to decreased productivity. The moment employees start to consider their options for alternative employment seriously. They are likely to become actively disengaged from their work.
  • Poor employee retention hurts morale. A hole in your team is disruptive and hurts employees' ability to focus on their work, especially when they're left picking up the slack for their newly departed co-worker. And even when you've found a replacement, team dynamics and morale may not recover if your team had a tight bond with the colleague they lost.
  • New employees can't add value right away. Most employees won't join your organization and immediately jump into productive work. New employees get fewer things done because they're still figuring out the best approach. It takes time to navigate company workflows and processes and establish relationships with co-workers. Even with a great onboarding process in place, it can take anywhere from 6 months to one year for new hires to reach peak performance.
  • High turnover affects your company's reputation. A recent study estimates that about 53% of job seekers check employer review scores on websites like Glassdoor before accepting a role at a company. If turnover is a problem at your organization, potential candidates likely already know about it and might see joining your team as too big of a risk.

Retention starts on day one

Retention starts on your employee’s first day. Putting suitable support systems into place can set a tone for your employees. First impressions matter: 20% of employee turnover happens in the first 60 days (first two months probation), and organizations with solid onboarding processes improve new hire retention by 82%. Put some time into creating systems that will help remote engineers feel supported from day one.

Curate their first days with care

Organizations with a robust onboarding process improve productivity by over 70%. That’s why your new employee’s first weeks on the job are arguably their most important. It’s when they get their first impression of your company, their role within it, and the support they’ll get to perform their responsibilities. In their first few days, be sure to set your employees up for success:

  • Promptly send materials - Onboarding starts in the weeks leading up to your new hire’s start date. Contracts, physical equipment like laptops and monitors, and software access should be squared away before their first day. And a little bit of company swag can build team pride before day one, too.
  • Schedule a 1:1 meeting - Make sure that hiring managers block off time on a new employee’s first day to welcome them. Schedules can fill up fast, and it can seem all too easy for busy managers to push back an initial 1:1 a day or two, but it’s important to discourage this as much as possible. You don’t want your new employees to feel like an afterthought to their new boss.
  • Onboarding milestones - Give your new hires a list of milestones you expect them to hit to help them advance through their onboarding. Milestones might include reviewing internal materials, meeting with their onboarding buddy, and logging into company portals.
  • Working hours - Be sure to outline how you expect them to approach work in Vietnam timezone. Do you expect them to maintain a set schedule and be online during certain hours of the day? Or is the quality of work more important than time logged? Whatever it is, be sure to relay that information to help new hires succeed.
  • Maintain a company handbook - A company handbook is a great way to document everything about your company and its work processes. And we mean everything -- organizational structure, stand-up schedules, code review processes, even company holidays. A handbook should be a living, breathing organism, so we recommend editing access to the entire company.

Set expectations

An essential part of any employee's success is their job expectations. Through surveys, over 50 percent of employees in Viet Nam said they weren't clear on what was waiting for them. If employees don't feel like they know how to succeed in their roles, they'll have a harder time navigating the company, and they'll be more likely to leave. Make sure that your managers are being transparent about the following:

  • Business goals - Show engineers how their tasks will apply to overarching OKRs. Employees want to see that what they do matters. Communicate goals company-wide regularly to establish a shared team vision. Knowing how daily tasks tie into larger goals will help engineers understand why their work matters and help them navigate their careers at your company.
  • Communication channels - Be clear about the tool and purpose of communication channels. When should engineers use email? When should they use a messaging program like Slack? How should they utilize functionality within your async tools? If there's a critical coding issue or a bug they can't fix, how should they reach out for help? Put together a written guide so employees will have something they can use as a reference.
  • Daily focus - Make sure engineers know things like working hours and weekly project deliverables. Engineers are far more likely to be engaged when they have a clear understanding of what's expected of them. It will also help engineers be more autonomous and creative in their roles, which leads to higher job satisfaction.

A stellar learning & development program

Fifty-eight percent of engineers cite learning and development as their top criteria when considering a new role. Without a robust learning and development program, you risk losing your talented engineers to companies that can give them what your own company might be lacking. The key is to adapt your L&D benefits to remote work.

  • Help employees learn from each other. Just because L&D is happening online doesn't mean you can't create cohorts of employees to keep each other accountable. Incorporate social learning, give employees deadlines and encourage collaboration.
  • Use remote to your advantage. If you were restricted to in-person L&D, you'd need to rely on in-person facilitators. But in a remote environment, you can use facilitators located in any place in the world and offer a wider variety of formats and programs.
  • Offer guidance. Some employees are likely to find it challenging to engage in self-learning and stay motivated through lengthy programs in the remote context. Follow up with employees on their learning and make it sticky by creating assignments that will make them practice what they have learned.
  • Tailor your offering. Avoid the one-size-fits-all approach. Assess and understand your employee's learning styles and preferences to make sure they are offered appropriate opportunities. With so many choices available, you should find a solution that will fit your needs. And options will only continue to grow: The overall market for online education is projected to reach $350 billion by 2025.

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