Key factors to attracting and retaining software development talent in an I.T. company in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal : talent innovation as competitive edge in KwaZulu-Natal I.T. sector.
Once a laidback coastal town, the city of Durban on the east coast of KwaZulu-Natal has in recent decades grown exponentially in population, commercial activity, residential development and social pursuits. The boost of the FIFA 2010 World Cup™ led to massive infrastructure and freeway upgrades, an international airport and trade hub, an award-winning stadium venue that has become the pride of the city, international exposure as the destination of choice for world travellers, global conferences and businesses looking to move into a city ripe for growth, and an explosion of world-class hotels that have welcomed a rush of travellers to the sparkling town. A few years on and the gains from Durban’s exposure as a World Cup Host City, has seen the city become a major business hub on the African continent. Transnet has established key lines into and out of the city, Portnet is building a new cargo bay set to be the largest in Southern Africa and suddenly the coastal town has become a new centre of commerce. The impact of this to local businesses is that they now face fierce competition for Durban’s resources. The company under study in this report held a prime local position for many years as an innovative Oracle software development house and retention of staff was legendary. Today however, the movement of developers is fast in, fast out and the impact on product quality and employee morale significantly affected. Multinational companies are moving into the company’s space and luring away prime talent with higher salaries and potential to move to bigger cities and bigger projects. This study was initiated to assess how other companies across the globe manage similar competitive challenges for scarce resources and evaluate how the company under study is faring in relation to those. Motivation for software developer mobility, and factors which attract, retain and discourage high-performers from software companies were studied. A quantitative study was undertaken amongst software developers in the Durban area to evaluate the effectiveness of their own companies’ retention policies and compare these to the company under study. Feedback from participants provided insight into what really attracts and discourages them from selecting an employer of choice. Recommendations were made as to how the Durban company could turn their attrition rates around without resorting to a salary war. These were aligned to the company’s corporate vision and goals, to demonstrate the value to be gained from adjusting its current practices to improve retention of high-performing developers and grab a competitive edge in the Durban software market.
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