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Post by Rich Moy on Apr 21, 2016, 12:00:00 PM

Every developer you meet will have a slightly different list of things that he or she considers important at work. It’s easy to jump to the conclusion that understanding what’s essential to developers means getting to the bottom of the types of perks they want. You might think “We can’t compete with the Olympic-sized pool our competitor offers, but we’ll win them over with free dog grooming services!”

Based on what we learned in the 2016 developer survey, these amenities alone aren't deal makers or breakers. Here are a few things that we learned about the things that contribute to developer job satisfaction.

Having Control Over Product Decisions

The most talented developers often have strong opinions about a lot of things, but they’re particularly passionate about the direction that their products follow. Over 44% of respondents told us they consider having control over product decisions to be a major contributing factor to their developer job satisfaction. While it would be borderline foolish to take this bit of information and tell your developers to do whatever they’d like on a product, it’s just as unwise to ask your technical team to stay silent about the projects they’re working on every day.

Believing in the Company Mission

Developers don’t just want to ship code for the sake of shipping code. While many developers wouldn’t be able to tolerate an extended period without writing or shipping code, 40% of the respondents to our survey told us they want to work for a company whose mission they believe in. When I was a recruiter, I quickly learned that you need to sell candidates on your organizational values, even if you work for a well-known company. If you’re passionate about your company’s mission, that’s a good start, but make sure you’re conveying that passion whenever you engage with a developer about the possibility of joining your tech team.

Flexibility to Explore New Technologies

Not surprisingly, developers crave opportunities to learn and tinker with new technologies on the job. In fact, 66% of the developers we surveyed told us that learning new technologies was very important to them at work. Considering how frequently new programming languages are created, some employers are adopting policies that allow developers to experiment with new technologies to increase the team’s job satisfaction and retain developers. This arrangement is a win-win for both parties, and if you’re still adhering to strict requirements about which languages your developers can use, it’s time to reconsider.

Building New Things That People Actually Use

Over 58% of developers who responded to our survey reconfirmed the notion that one of the most satisfying aspects the job is building something new and getting to see real customers use it. Max Horstmann, a developer here at Stack Overflow, recently told us that if your technical team prioritizes shipping significant amounts of code, you should use that as a selling point to candidates during the interview process. If your current developers often complain about the barriers that keep them from building new features or products, consider how you can create more opportunities for your technical team to ship more code.

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