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How can engineering leaders increase retention, or attract new talent?

With the Great Resignation we have seen a lot of people moving on and looking for a change. This has increased the competition, as every company is now looking for people either to increase the headcount or backfill existing positions. Of course it is an issue when you want to scale fast, but less of an issue if you are proactive and know the market really well. What’s most important is to understand the needs of the people you are trying to retain or attract. At this point in time people are very self-aware, they care about flexibility, work/life balance, recognition, culture, company mission and vision, good tech, etc. When it comes to good tech in particular, engineers are very picky about that, including myself. But each one of those aspects requires hard work and ongoing effort from leadership. And a company needs to offer good remuneration packages of course — whether salary and stock options or RSU — as this is how basic human needs are met.

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With the Great Resignation we have seen a lot of people moving on and looking for a change. This has increased the competition, as every company is now looking for people either to increase the headcount or backfill existing positions. Of course it is an issue when you want to scale fast, but less of an issue if you are proactive and know the market really well. What’s most important is to understand the needs of the people you are trying to retain or attract. At this point in time people are very self-aware, they care about flexibility, work/life balance, recognition, culture, company mission and vision, good tech, etc. When it comes to good tech in particular, engineers are very picky about that, including myself. But each one of those aspects requires hard work and ongoing effort from leadership. And a company needs to offer good remuneration packages of course — whether salary and stock options or RSU — as this is how basic human needs are met.
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Anonymous Author
To keep the talent, you need to be more flexible, adapt to your employee's needs and try to meet their needs as much as you can without straying away too much from the organization's policy. Ideally, you want to measure the amount of work done (or even better, results achieved), not the hours worked or how they were worked, i.e. whether remote/hybrid or in the office, 4day week or 5-day week. If you need to have the employees clock 40 hours a week,  at least allow them to decide their work shifts. Not everyone prefers 9-5. Engineering positions are mostly not customer-facing or on the phone, so most of the work can be done at any time or when the employees feel they are most productive, so allow them that. You will end up with happy and satisfied employees. As for attracting new talent, try to be more creative with the job ads. Don't just list requirements or what the employee will work on. Explain why they should work for your organization and why they should choose it vs some other company. When you see a candidate you like during the interview process, put your sales hat on and sell the position to the candidate. Remember that if that candidate is interviewing with you, they are interviewing with others as well, and if you see talent, someone else will see it too. Be prepared to explain why they should report to your or work for you or your organization. What makes you attractive as a leader and your organization as an employer. It goes without saying that in Engineering roles, the employee needs to be challenged and have the opportunity to learn and grow. I've seen when employees get bored, they start looking around or when they feel that they've learned everything they can at their position and need to move.
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