Software developers tend to change jobs frequently in tech (the average tenure is <2 years). We have lots of reasons to leave one company for another, and most boil down to our feeling unhappy, unstimulated, or undervalued in our current roles. However, there are companies that retain their talent extremely well...
Below are the engineering teams who listed High Employee Retention as one of their key values. There are many factors that go into retention, but these teams seem to share two things in common: they thoughtfully hire value-aligned individuals, and they do a particularly good job giving their employees the room and support to grow both personally and professionally.
Feature flagging and toggle management for continuous delivery
Oakland, CA / London, UK
Alexis Georges, Engineer and Andrea Echstenkamper, Director of Marketing have been here since 2015. We hired over 50 people in 2018 with less than 2% attrition rate. LaunchDarkly is doing bold new things to ensure our employees remain happy but above all it's our high quality of life and work/life balance that makes working at LaunchDarkly so enjoyable.
13 Open Positions
Agile Product Development Consultancy
San Francisco, Santa Monica, Chattanooga, New York
All of the partners have been here for 11 or more years. People tend to stick around for a long time and those that don’t are the ones that come in and leave pretty quickly because they discover that this isn’t the right environment for them. There is big difference between having a product-type versus a consulting-type of involvement at a company. Some people want to have ownership in a product over many years, and potentially move up in title and in a hierarchy. Whereas for us on the consulting side, we are people who constantly like learning, leveling up our skills, and enjoy doing it quickly. You might go from doing data-warehousing work with Java to building a platform with Node to developing in React Native for a mobile application. People who like diving into different domains and code flourish here. If working on new things every 4-6 months with a senior team appeals to you, we’d love to hear from you. (Note: we do hire about one junior dev per year per office.)
Given that bitExpert has been around for 14 years, this looks like a good sign. The challenging work as well as the team spirit seem to be the main drivers why employees stay with us. Usually we recruit students for part time work while they are studying, they will write their diploma theses with us and stay with us afterwards.
Instead of presuming why our engineers have stayed with Grammarly for so long, we decided to ask them. Here’s what they said:
Acquisition team eng for six years on why he’s chosen to stay at Grammarly:
Backend engineer, four years:
Mainly because of the team, exceptional engineers, also the great level of trust between engineering and executive teams; Interesting domain—in nlp, there are still a lot of issues waiting to be solved solved. Also, Grammarly is a mature business, profitable since 2009, whereas a lot of other companies are driven by the optimism of their investors.
Frontend engineer, 5 years:
I think I stayed mostly because I had a lot of possibilities to work on things that interest me. It is also super fun to own or work on user-facing projects, meaning that the code you write will be running on users' computers and making an impact. Some of the problems I got to work on were also non-trivial, which adds to the fun.
Frontend engineer, 6 years:
11 Open Positions
Why have they (and others) stayed so long? One of the reasons we believe our retention is so high is that our organization mission and vision have never changed, even since we first started out in 2009. We haven’t pivoted or changed business models; we’ve just tailored and refined the original mission and vision. As one of our engineers said, “It feels like you’re on a ship that’s sailing to a certain port, not just adrift in the middle of the ocean!”
As a company, and within the engineering department, we’re a listening organization – a grassroots organization where ideas are welcome – and where we get teammates involved to solve interesting and challenging problems. Feedback is very welcome and we believe this empowerment translates to retention, especially since we’re in an environment where management is willing to listen to all ideas and problems are never solved in isolation.
We believe engineering is a science but also an art, as you need room to play around with ideas. Being able to listen to ideas with freedom to operate is important to us, so we like to provide our engineers with a wide sandbox.
This keeps the work interesting and exciting and makes our teammates want to stay here. We pride ourselves in being able to suggest and bring newer technologies into the mix. We’re nimble enough of an organization to have room for flexibility to use different tools and aren’t restricted to legacy tools that may not be the right ones for a given task. This is empowering to our teammates and gives them chances to learn and grow.
We also value having diverse and talented engineering and data teams. About 40% of both teams are women, and consists of people based in both New York and Los Angeles.
We have a highly skilled team of developers that are all friendly, and many of us play computer games together over lunch and outside of work. The majority of our team has worked here for over 3 years. We have an intensive hiring process to make sure we don't hire any anyone that would make our working environment suffer as a result. The interview process is 3 phases starting with a 20 minute C# theory test, followed by a 1-hour practical test where the candidate can show off their skills, finishing with a sit down interview where we find out more about the candidate and the candidate finds out more about Atlas. We are a young company that has only been around for 10 years, but we have recently congratulated one of our first employees on his 10th year anniversary of working at Atlas.
The most junior person has been with us for a year, but was also an intern for us for a year while she was in college. Everyone with the exception of our recent sales director hire has been with us for 3+ years. The reason our employees stay a long time is because we as a company is small and agile enough to take on work that is in alignment with our core values, and that makes everyday exciting and meaningful. As such, being part of a growing team that offers opportunity to work on the projects you want to work on feels like a new challenge every year!
1 Open Positions
Pierre and Leo were two of the first engineers to join Hipcamp. When we asked them why they’ve stayed at Hipcamp for as long as they have, and this is what they said:
Pierre, Senior Software Engineer (joined 3.5 years ago): "Working at Hipcamp was a dream before I started and the level of excitement has never declined over the years. Our mission is very special. It affects people in various ways, and ultimately raises awareness around protecting nature. I define Hipcamp as more of an outdoors company than a tech startup, although it's the combination of the two that is meaningful to me. I don't see myself having the same impact on the causes I care for, in such a open-minded and forward-thinking environment, anywhere else today."
Leo, Senior Software Engineer (joined 2 years ago): “It’s great to be working with technologies I’m interested in, for a product I believe in, with a group of people I share common interests with. The supportive environment here is real; it’s nice to know people have your back. It’s also great to work somewhere where your ideas can so directly influence the product; most often in a better form than when conceived.”
We haven’t taken another dime of venture capital since raising a modest seed round in 2013. We’ve been profitable since then, and have been able to grow to 1M+ users due to positive word-of-mouth. We deliberately chose to take a slow-and-steady approach to growth and as a result, we’ve been able to prioritize the things that matter most: building a fantastic product for our customers to use and an incredible place for our employees to work.
Given our product, mission, and culture, there are plenty of reasons that make Webflow a great place to work as an engineer. Olena (based in London), shared the 10 reasons why she’s loved working here, and Amina (based in Atlanta) has also been known to do random tweets of appreciation. If you’re ever curious about what it’s really like to work somewhere, ask current team members.
In the last 3 years, we’ve only had one engineer leave the company. There are many reasons why people stay at Plastiq. In addition to the team and product, we also offer tremendous learning and growth opportunities. Team members are encouraged to attend conferences and network at local meetups and events. We have a 20% rule (where 20% of our team’s monthly capacity is devoted to internal engineering work) to give us the opportunity to work on new technologies and reduce technical debt.
Engineers also set out their own learning goals and tell their managers what role they want. Managers then support their transitions. For example, our current Chief Architect started at Plastiq as a Software Engineer in Test. Many of our full-stack engineers joined us as specialized UX engineers. As a company, we are willing to sacrifice optimal resource allocation in order to support each person’s interests and career goals. We’re willing to “lose” someone (i.e. our Software Engineer in Test) as they transition into a new role, and will gladly backfill for them to support their personal trajectory.
Our regular 1-on-1 meetings are important in keeping managers understand what people’s motivations are and what opportunities there may be. There is a lot of autonomy and free to reign to work on whatever you want. If you have an idea, prove it, and then present it to the founders or make a case for why the company should invest further (via hires or more resources). In fact, we are currently working on developing an Entrepreneur in Residence role too. Perhaps someone on the team has an interest and expertise in something, but there isn’t really room for a promotion it. We’d assign them a high visibility project with the idea that if it goes well and they want to turn this into their own company in a couple of years, we can give them the connections, support, and network they need to seek investment and get it off the ground.
This fact stands by itself and speaks volumes. It is likely a result of how much we enjoy working with one another, and our incredibly difficult hiring process. We hire very carefully and deliberately, have very high standards, and feel like a closely guarded family. But once you're in, you're in. If you’re interested to learn more about our product, our team, or how you might become a part of our team, reach out.
We pride ourselves on working closely within the engineering and product teams to make sure everyone is working on products which are fulfilling and challenging for them. You can learn more about the members of our team here. If you are interested in opportunities within engineering or product please feel free to email our Recruiting Manager to start the process and learn more: [email protected]
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