How do we ensure software developer happiness at RST?
In a recent article where I discussed the strategy used at RST to keep developers on board for a decade, I mentioned the role of an HR Guide as being a crucial element of that approach. In fact, the role is instrumental to maintaining software developer happiness at our company. To better understand the nitty-gritty, I spoke with Joanna Snopek, one of our fearless HR Guides.
I asked Joanna to explain what’s within the scope of her responsibilities that goes beyond the standard HR Specialist role and how it affects the overall team spirit. It helped me to identify five unique ways in which the HR Guides help build strong teams for years and ensure solid software developer job satisfaction.
By ensuring new employees are the perfect fit
“The structure in our organization is rather atypical, in that HR and Recruitment are separated; they are two individual departments” said Joanna. “As an HR Guide I don’t deal with recruitment directly, but join in at the final stage of the process, when a candidate has already been verified from the technical skills perspective.
“The aim of this is to verify, in cooperation with an architect or team lead, whether the applicant is a good fit for the project or team in terms of their soft skills. Will this person fill a specific skill gap we’re observing within that team? It’s extremely valuable because the recruitment team works to fill the needs of the entire organization, while HR Guides are specifically assigned to get to know the employees better to effectively address their needs,” Joanna explained.
With that, HR guides at RST are able to identify the exact interpersonal skills that would complement the teams in the best way – e.g. whether the team needs a more energetic individual to strike the right balance, or whether a team consisting of several junior specialists who want to try out new technologies frequently could benefit from a senior expert who may know which technologies would work and which ones wouldn’t. Having well-matched team members greatly contributes to the overall software developer job satisfaction at our company.
Through more effective onboarding
A major task carried out by HR guides at RST is onboarding of new employees. In this case, again, it’s organized in a rather atypical way. While it starts with what is typically communicated during onboarding: company benefits, development opportunities, etc, the HR Guides then talk a lot about the organizational culture, the values and how these are being woven into the daily operations at RST Software. It’s an important component of ensuring software development happiness.
“I think people stay with us for a long time because they believe in our values. It’s something that we communicate often, starting from the very beginning of the recruitment process, all the way through their development path” explained Joanna. “If we hire someone who doesn’t believe in our values, it simply won’t work.”
By building trust and strengthening feedback culture
Speaking about values – transparency is one we stand for, and the HR Guides ensure it is being respected for the benefit of the entire organization. To this end, the HR Guides always carry out a feedback conversation with a new employee after their first month of employment. Such review always works both ways: the new employee receives feedback, but they are also expected to review both the team and the organization.
According to Joanna, it positively impacts the overall developer happiness as it makes our staff “feel they are being listened to, which is important for them. A similar review is carried out after a year, once an employee is already well-onboarded (in case of large clients like Trans.eu), or after 3 months, in case of startups and international projects.”
By ensuring an individual approach
Joanna likes to think of her role “in terms of a hub. I repeatedly tell employees that if they have any doubts or issues, they should communicate them to me directly. If they encounter an issue or need they don’t know whether the company can take care of, they come and talk to me about it. It’s the best way for finding relevant solutions – and they know it.”
The assumption is always that if we don’t have a specific solution, system, or mechanism, it’s worth thinking about the appropriate solution and considering whether it shouldn’t be introduced throughout the company. In this way, some of our solutions or practices become organizational standards that help boost developer happiness.
Quoting Joanna: “It’s all about ensuring that the employee, no matter what the issue is, should openly communicate it, and then we can jointly think of a solution – even if it isn’t a standard practice yet. In this way, the employee is happy, and we become better as an organization.”
By personalizing an employee’s career path
As part of their efforts to maintain software developer happiness at RST, the HR Guide also actively helps employees in planning their career path. “At RST, we have a training budget, and we actively encourage employees to make use of it. Moreover, we talk about the training offer available within the company because the employees aren’t aware of the entire offer” – mentioned Joanna.
“For instance, in the case of our highly skilled developers, we encourage them to broaden their soft skills training – in our industry investing in such competences is rarely prioritized, so most employees won’t be aware of what training programs are available. From what I notice, employees value this kind of support immensely.”
By better streamlining workloads
At RST, the HR Guides also manage remuneration and talk with the employees about their financial progress within the company. In Joanna’s view, “this policy is strategically planned; we want to take this duty away from scrum masters, project leads or technical team leaders, who typically take care of this task.
“It’s dictated by the fact that we focus on ensuring that the role of the project lead or scrum master is primarily about the technical leadership and that they don’t have to deal with other major aspects of employment. It can be difficult to lead teams when one tries to lead in the best way they can on one day, and the next they deny an employee a pay rise.”
HR Guides and software developer happiness at RST
As you can see, the HR Guides have their hands full. This role was introduced as part of our efforts to increase software development happiness and retention, and to ensure they receive the best development support possible. Looking at our seniority graph may confirm this approach works.
If you’re interested in working with any of our specialists, consider hiring them temporarily as a team extension. Aside from working with experts in React, Java, Flutter and other technologies, we can contribute years of experience and know-how in location-based service development, mapping services, chat applications, media streaming services, data visualization and more.
If you have any questions about our internal processes, feel free to contact me at email@example.com – I'm ready to help.