Facing uncertainty. Four ways to deal with IT developers in hard times

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Before 2020, everyone was predicting stable growth for the IT field. Slashdata forecasts, for example, show that developers’ teams’ amount would have almost doubled by 2030 in comparison with 2018.

Then, 2020 came, a year of isolation and self-distancing, that changed the insane growth to the careful expectation. Of course, the developing field suffered not as much as the travel or hotel business, but there were fewer clients and orders too. EBA poll shows that 70% of respondents have incomes fallen by almost half, another 18% – even more than half. Meanwhile, small and middle business, considered as a panacea after quarantine quitting, is thinking whether it would be better to close and never open again.

Experts predict the second wave of disease by autumn, which means the question will become as actual as never before. What to do with the team if the obstacles are against your company?

Don't fire IT developers, use them to raise company funds
Photo by Lala Azizli. Source: unsplash.com

The easiest way is to fire the developer

Polls say, 64% of Ukrainian IT-companies have already cut their staff. And all the others don’t know whether it will not affect them. What’s worse, it is not a local trend or some Ukrainian mentality feature. Teams are being cut all over the world in the current situation.

Even if you have never been interested in news about US companies, you may have heard about cuts in Uber (3700 jobs, 14% of the employees’ amount) and Airbnb (1900 jobs, quarter of all the employees). Some say these were technical personnel, HR, and Sales departments, while development was not affected. But let’s look at the statistics. The USA government says that there have been 177,000 IT developers cut from March till May. And their quantity increases day by day.

Employee dismissal is the fastest way to distribute resources in a crisis efficiently. But such a decision has enough negative sides. First, you spend enough funds to train the employees and make them grow. Then, you force them to leave. And then, you have to search for new funds again to train new specialists when the need appears. It’s a classic trap that often results in a poor quality of the future production.

Small companies suffer from sudden employee cuts more than large ones because of the “one family” concept. They fire one or two persons — and deal with half of the team quitting because their friends have left. Besides, that doesn’t mean that big companies carry over cuts easier. They may search for a new employee for years while having fired the previous one because the company had to do something.

“Well, employee cut is not the only decision,” the experienced SEOs think and come to the next obvious solution.

Don't send IT developers on an unpaid leave when you can earn more with them
Photo by Austin Paquette. Source: unsplash.com

Send on a paid/unpaid leave or cut the salary

As the survey of Robota.ua shows, IT companies were actively using this solution during the lockdown. While 5% of respondents cut their staff, 12% let employees go on unpaid leave, 24% paid for such leaves, and 13% cut salaries due to the crisis.

This solution seems to be more positive than the one above. Employees don’t leave their places for long. They don’t bring any profit but take minimal losses. But there are some risks also:

  • The employee on an unpaid leave won’t sit doing anything because he or she needs money to exist. In the real world, people think the company doesn’t care for them anymore and start to search for ways to quit.
  • Those who have paid leaves happen to be in a similar situation. It seems all right at first glance: what else will you need to be happy if you are paid for staying at home? It is true, employees who enjoy their jobs making every day a holiday don’t look for a way to retreat. But in case there are any doubts about the current job place, be sure: the employee will start to implement them.
  • Salary cuts are not efficient too. First of all, your specialist has to believe this is for good and to agree with that. Second, other companies around should cut salaries, too. When everyone else says everything’s fine, but the particular company asks everyone to tighten their belts, the results may be inconsolable.

You may say: “Okay, why do I need such employees who’ll run away at the first difficulties?”

And you may be right: you don’t need them. But keep in mind mind that you’ll lose efforts spent on finding, training, and adopting a new colleague.

Why do you need to put IT developers on the bench when you can earn more
Photo by Luke Peters. Source: unsplash.com

Put IT developers on the bench

The bench is not the leave and still not a workplace. The developer goes to the office and waits for a new project to come. You pay the salary and don’t expect any profits. The small companies let IT developers do anything they want. Bigger ones find other tasks to do:

  • Give smaller projects with shorter terms
  • Find interesting projects with a lower rate
  • Switch to the inner tasks that were non-priority before
  • Ask to provide tech support for regular customers
  • Offer participation in opensource projects
  • Set tasks to develop new skills

It seems to be the perfect way to leave the employee in the company just paying the salary while he or she is waiting for the new project. However, this method is rather source-consuming: no matter how the owner minimizes costs, developers on the bench will still make no profit. Moreover, employees are being bored on the bench, and they may start to think about leaving like their colleagues on paid/unpaid leave. And the longer they sit doing nothing, the more they doubt.

So, there is no way to get rid of your colleagues for a while without a risk. But if they will stay, what should they do?

Make a profit from your IT developers
Photo by Austin Distel. Source: unsplash.com

Make a profit from your IT developers

Chats and social network communities for developers hire

They are usually the first thing a company comes to when looking for a way to make a profit for employees. Here, you have slight possibilities to find attractive projects. Also, regular job offers happen here more often than outsourcing tasks.

The main problem is that people often use these channels for flood; offers are quite rare here. As usual, sales managers try to move this task far away for more necessary things to do. The author knows the case when the sales team didn’t hire any particular team member for communities and simply signed one of the IT developers for this job. But he didn’t want to waste his time too and started to search for another place to work. As a result, a good idea turned out an inner company conflict.

Freelance platforms (sell your specialists for a short time)

These are the other channel for urgent project search, which some people consider to be successful. You can find here some orders, most of which are small and low-costal. After you’ve spent much time on your searches, you should learn some information about the customer company and compose a reasonable offer.

The responsibility for freelance platforms search should lie on the shoulders of the particular sales-manager. However, companies start searching there at the times when they cannot afford to hire one more specialist for this role. As in chats case, the task usually gets lost in “not so important” task lists.

Professional developer sellers

Development companies are having difficulties with their employees for quite a long time. A lot of websites have decided to use this situation and offer their services in hiring developers on the bench. They promise to find the client immediately and talk to you for hours on the phone getting information about your company. Then they check the base to come up with the projects IT developers may suit.

This approach has two problems. First, every company uses its own client base. If it doesn’t have any clients you need, you’ll have to wait long before something comes up. By this time, your developers may already be working on a new project, and thus their data would become irrelevant.

The second problem is a significant sum for a transaction with a customer company. You may even not gain any profit when you find new tasks for the specialists.

Platforms for development teams on the bench

One of the most convenient platforms of such type is OnBench. Why is it so special:

  • Customers can search for the whole development teams, not IT developers one by one. There’s a chance your team on the bench will start working on a new project as one whole
  • You spend time on the platform when adding employees to the base. From then on, customers search for them by themselves. You can send to the leads just one link to the page with your list of workers
  • There are no transaction fees. The company may only pay to place the employees on the platform. The first five are placed here for free.
  • Any developer can have a particular profile with an avatar and name or act as an anonymous specialist not to disturb other companies’ recruiters
  • You can do everything in several clicks without regular calls and inquiries about the company.

OnBench focuses primarily on German-speaking customers, which highly value specialists from Eastern Europe. Knowledge of English or German is required. Spend some time for registration and have more chances to survive in these uncertain times.

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