Why Investing in Developer Training is Always Worth It
Training developers in new technologies is a major investment. Courses, certifications, and learning materials can be expensive. More importantly, any time a developer spends in training takes away from the time they could be writing code for billable projects. Additionally, coordinating training schedules and trying to fit training into an overall workplan can be a logistical challenge.
Due to the cost and challenges of sending developers to training, many companies simply don’t do it. These companies reason that developers are smart and often very good at learning things on their own. If they want to learn something new, they’ll learn it in their spare time.
With the hot job market for development talent, many companies also worry that training their developers and giving them certifications just makes it more likely that developers will leave for positions elsewhere. But the question shouldn’t be, “What happens if I train my developers and they leave?” Instead think of, “What if I don’t train my developers and they stay?”
More Effective Developers
The most obvious benefit of investing in training is more effective developers. As they learn new technologies and approaches, they become more experienced and valuable to your company. When they return to work, they’ll likely come back with ideas about how what they’ve learned applies to multiple projects at your company. In addition, they’ll be able to share new concepts with other developers on the team. When you train one person, you’re actually adding expertise to the overall team.
Having developers that are certified in industry standard technologies or trained in new emerging trends is also great for sales and marketing. Now, client calls and sales pitches get a lot easier because you can point to an expert on your team who is trained to get the job done. Landing one new major client alone should more than pay for the cost of developer training. Now, training is a revenue-positive activity, not an administrative or overhead cost.
Encouraging Creativity, Experimentation, & Curiosity
A broader benefit of investing in training is it encourages developers to try new things. Companies die when they become stagnant and no longer fit with the world around them. Nowhere is this more true than in the tech industry. If your team includes software developers, then the platforms, languages, and integrations those developers use are constantly changing. You want a team that innovates, experiments, and stays on the cutting edge, using the most effective technologies for the task at hand.
A word to the wise: allowing your developers to try new things means that they will fail sometimes. This is part of the cost of training, but it’s incredibly valuable. Use failed projects as learning experiences, and never make a developer feel bad for having tried something new.
As you encourage experimentation and education, you’ll find that your company culture benefits. Developers will be happier because they feel like they have flexibility and autonomy over their projects. They’ll also find work more fulfilling because they’re constantly learning and growing personally. When implemented correctly, a training culture makes your company a better place to work. Aside from the benefits in productivity and team morale, this means that developers are also less likely to leave your company, even if another organization offers more money.
Playing the Long Game
Of course, a training culture alone won’t stop good developers from leaving your team, and even the greatest companies lose good talent. It can be tempting to think of how much you’ve invested in that person and blame them for leaving your team. Or, you can play the long game and wish them well.
That person will go on to work other places in the industry. As they do, they may end up bringing clients to your company. Or, they might tell other developers they meet how great it was to work at your company. Even after someone has left your team, they can still be valuable for marketing, recruitment, and building your company’s image in the industry.
Developer training usually pays for itself in terms of new contracts landed or increased efficiency for the development team. However, it also has ancillary benefits to company culture, team morale, and developer creativity. Even when someone leaves your team with training and certifications you paid for, that person will be an ambassador for your company to the industry. Taken together, this long view of developer training means its almost always worth it to invest in your developers and help them learn and grow.
Also published on Medium.