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Q: What does healthy and unhealthy attrition look like for software engineers and tech workers?

Attrition – the rate of employees leaving a company – is an important topic for any manager. When it comes to software engineers and tech workers, opportunities to work elsewhere are plentiful, so it’s only normal for attrition to be comparatively high.

Or is it?

I’ve talked with and gathered information from more than two dozen engineering managers working at various tech companies to get a sense of what they consider to be “good” and “bad” attrition numbers. I’ve also sat down with Dominic Jacquesson, who is VP of Talent at Index Ventures, and has advised dozens of portfolio companies on this topic. Dominic is the author of three (free-to-read online) books on startups, including Rewarding Talent: a guide to stock options for European entrepreneurs.

In this issue, we cover:

  1. Attrition categories. Defining what we mean by attrition, and how to think about it.

  2. Attrition numbers. What does “good” and “bad” attrition look like, based on the stage of the company? How is it different for engineering managers?

  3. Adjustment factors. There are many things that can increase or reduce attrition. Some examples of these.

  4. Events that increase and decrease attrition. From a forced return to the office to promoting before people are ready: how do events increase, decrease or delay attrition?

  5. High and low attrition cases. And what were the causes?

  6. Remote work and attrition. What’s the connection, and will remote work always be a differentiator?

  7. Practices for getting ahead of attrition. What are approaches which can reduce attrition?


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