How to stop senior devs from leaving the job

Experts working in talent management and employee retention often come across a catch-22: you invest in your mid-level talent, improve their skills and knowledge, and reach a senior level. When they get another job offer, they leave. So, how can you prevent this from happening?

It is only natural that people leave after years of working at the same place, and sometimes, it probably isn’t you or your company’s fault. But it is of utmost importance that your retention strategy focuses a little on retaining senior talent. They are high performers that are quite in demand, and in the long term, you’ll need to give more incentive to keep your senior leaders.

But before we offer the solutions, here are some reasons why they might want to do so.

Their job lacks a purpose

I am not getting philosophical and looking for the meaning of life, but it is a fact that employees feel more inspired to work towards something if they have some goal or purpose in their job.

What do I mean by this? Well, at the beginning of my career, I wanted to become a better writer, learn SEO, get a promotion, a better salary, and I kept working hard towards achieving that goal. And I still do! I am by no means an expert, especially considering how quickly technology and all related fields change.

But for a senior expert in a given field, that learning curve is much less steep, and you don’t have incentives to push yourself to learn more and quicker. Once you reach the top, everything is below you, right?

The way to prevent your senior developer from leaving because they don’t have a grand purpose at their work is to reshuffle the cards and give them another position or expand on their responsibilities and tasks. Or simply ask them what would make them feel excited to show up to work. Maybe they want to focus more on managerial tasks or feel like their voice isn’t heard when they can help out in optimizing day-to-day work. Or who knows, maybe they just want to do what they do best and be left at that. In any case, information is best when it comes straight from the horse’s mouth.

Their big ideas aren’t heard

The happiest workplaces are ones with a high engagement rate from their employees. Harvard Business Review pinpoints that talented people invest a lot of energy and emotion in developing their skills to a high level, and in return, they expect that their input and opinions on how to apply those skills and further strengthen them will be respected.

It’s a common error in recruitment and retention that we don’t hear the employees out and listen to their feedback on topics, ranging from trivial day-to-day experiences, all the way to important strategical questions.

They reached their peak in their current position

If your employee gave their best in their current position, perhaps they need more development opportunities where they can pick up a new skill or find themselves more inspired in another role.

A great developer can make an amazing CTO, for example, or be the project manager of a new project your company is working on. Try to see if there’s room for expanding on their talents and wishes for their future career progress.

They lack flexibility

It is also possible for senior talent to actually need something else but a better paycheck. If we can assume that senior developers are also slightly older than your average programmer, we can also assume that they might have families and need a better work/life balance.

So, they might require an opportunity for remote work, flexible hours, a better medical care package, or something else that provides more freedom and customization around the work environment.

They need more employee engagement in the workplace

This tip isn’t just going to help you retain senior talent, but all talent in general.

Employees that feel a sense of belonging to their company work more, stay longer and inspire others to do the same.

Employee engagement has an impact on almost every area of your business, including profitability, sales, customer experience, employee turnover, and so on.

According to research, 92 percent of corporate executives believe that engaged employees work better, enhancing their teams' and companies' success.

There's a lot of information about how to enhance employee engagement out there—some of it reliable, some of it not. Employee engagement has been defined in a variety of ways, according to HR leaders. But what is employee engagement, exactly? To truly encourage employee engagement in your company, you must first define it and know what it entails.

They need a challenge

Employee engagement is critical to assisting people in stepping outside of their comfort zones, practicing, and gaining confidence. Identify a potential challenge for your senior developer, and use it as a learning opportunity.

You'll be able to assist them in learning a new skill and overcoming a challenge in a safe environment this way. They'll have tools to help them overcome a similar problem the next time they run into it.

Treating every challenge your employees face as an opportunity for practice and growth, whether personal, such as improving communication skills or practical, such as learning new technology, is critical to creating an environment in which people believe they are valued enough as individuals to be given the time and space to flourish.

They are in a position to pick the right culture for them

Finally—and this is a big one—today, people leave companies because they don’t fit their culture and spirit. We are in the middle of a work revolution, and people that have a stellar portfolio in their field of work can afford to choose.

If your company lacks a distinctive culture and values or needs some improvement in that field, it might be wise to start creating a culture that employees want to be part of. And I don’t mean a poll table and Pizza Fridays. I mean a work environment where diversity, innovation, and creativity are appreciated, and people feel like they belong there because their ideas are valued and their work is rewarded in a considerable way.


Even in the best of workplaces, your employees will sometimes leave for one reason or another. Senior developers are more likely to do so because they don’t have that much on the line and are at a career level where they control the steering wheel.

However, as a company, the least you can do is talk to them, learn what would make them interested to stay, and how you could help them take their career to the next level. Perhaps you can help each other thrive even more.

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