The Relationships Between Job Characteristics, Job Satisfaction, and Turnover Intention Among Software Developers
Software developer turnover can have disastrous effects on an organization due to the loss of business process knowledge, as well as acquired technical skills. Annual rates of turnover in information technology (IT) departments have been estimated at 20% or more with the cost of replacing technology workers ranging from 1.5 to 2.5 times annual salaries. This study purposely focused only on software developers as opposed to IT employees in general due to the critical nature of their work.
The factors leading to turnover intention in this field are poorly understood; therefore, this study was designed to further understand the relationships between job characteristics, job satisfaction, and turnover intention among software developers. 326 web surveys were completed that contained questions relating to job characteristics, job satisfaction, turnover intention, and demographic information. The first four job characteristics are specific to software developers while the last five job characteristics and the job satisfaction scales are from the Hackman and Oldham Job Diagnostic Survey (JDS).
Two research questions, sixteen hypotheses, and a theoretical path model were developed to understand which job characteristic variables contribute to the various dimensions of job satisfaction and which job satisfaction dimensions contribute to turnover intention. Additionally, the indirect effects of job characteristics through job satisfaction on turnover intention were also determined. The statistical testing consisted of descriptive and inferential statistical analysis. Bivariate correlations are presented, as well as path analysis, an extension of multiple regression analysis.
The results of the study uncovered several factors that can influence turnover intention among software developers. Identified in the study as statistically significant job characteristics that can be influenced by management are training, autonomy, feedback, number of developers, task significance, and skill variety. With the results of this study, management can better understand the unique needs of software developers and design development jobs to ensure that these needs are met. The study concludes with implications for practitioners and recommendations for future research.
About the Author
Tim Doré is a native of California but has been residing near Portland, Oregon since 1980. He has been designing, coding, and implementing software systems since moving to Oregon and is one of the founders of Dolphin Software Inc. Tim is a member of APICS and has written numerous software systems for MRP, MPS, Payroll, Customer Order Entry and Invoicing, Maintenance Management, and MSDS Management. He has a BS degree in Business (Production & Operations Management), a Masters in Computer Information Systems, and a Doctorate in Business Administration/Information Systems. Currently Tim is the Chief Technology Officer at Dolphin Software Inc. and can be found on the web at www.dolphinmsds.com.