Tech companies experience an average employee turnover rate of 13.2 percent, which rises to 21.7 percent among embedded software engineers. That’s quite an alarming statistic when you think about the extensive time and resources that go into hiring and onboarding the individuals for these highly technical roles.

Meanwhile, with conversations around artificial intelligence and machine learning on the rise, the role of the software engineer is changing—but certainly not going away. In fact, with software engineers needing to expand their specialized knowledge and skillsets in relation to AI, it’s becoming even more important for employers to find out what works in keeping these employees engaged and on the team.

To help crack the retention code during these uncertain times, TalentRise conducted a survey of engineering and IT leaders, as well as the HR executives who hire them, to find out why they stay with their employers and what companies can do to improve retention.

1 – Money matters.

Not surprisingly, survey respondents ranked compensation as the most important factor when it comes to retention. And while it’s not the only thing that employees weigh, employers must ensure the compensation they’re offering software engineers aligns with the rest of the market. Even though the job market for tech talent has softened, businesses still need to take a data-driven approach to employee pay.

Related: Salary Guide – Engineering & Technology

2 – Retention factors change depending on experience level.

Entry-level engineers were most interested in on-the-job training, learning, and development, while mid-level employees focused more on whether an organization offers opportunities for advancement and higher compensation. Management and senior-level leaders cared more about a company’s mission and values. Interestingly, work-life balance and benefits like paid time off were more important to seasoned employees compared to those newer to the workforce.

3 – Communication is key.

When asked about the skills most important for leaders of engineering talent to possess, respondents ranked communication in the top spot, followed by collaboration and team building, coaching and mentoring, listening, and emotional intelligence. Vision and strategic planning, technical expertise, problem-solving, creativity, and curiosity rounded out the bottom five.

Related: Emotionally Intelligent Leadership and Employee Retention

4 – Software engineers want to stay on the technical side of things, even as their careers progress.

Employees are more likely to stay with an employer if they have a clear path for growth—but even as they advance, some software engineers say they still want to maintain technical responsibilities. And junior level employees are more likely to respect engineering leaders who are still “one of them” and put their hard skills to use.

Survey respondents also ranked career development as the second most important factor influencing retention. All this underscores the importance of investing in professional development and training opportunities, even for members of your team in higher-level positions.

5 – Employers have an opportunity to set themselves apart from their competitors when it comes to attracting and retaining top software engineering talent.

Just one-third of survey respondents agreed or strongly agreed that their company does a good job of training engineering leaders on how to manage and lead their software teams. We know that effective leadership is critical across all industries and job types and is linked to a stronger organizational culture that can better retain its employees.

One way employers can set themselves apart is by bridging this gap and ensuring that the people responsible for building and managing software engineering teams are well equipped to do so. This can be accomplished through coaching and professional development opportunities.


Above-average turnover rates for software engineers have seemingly become the norm, but this doesn’t need to be the case. By learning more about the retention factors that software engineers consider most important, employers can take a critical first step in keeping these employees satisfied and excited about their future with the company.