Feedback on Nine Things Developers Want More Than Money

Nine Things Developers Want More Than Money has continued to generate feedback, both through email and comments left here, on Reddit and Digg. Though most people agree with the overall point, I’ve seen the following sentiment from a few:

“I’ll take the money over happiness any day.”

or

“This whole ‘developers don’t want money’ meme is a lie.”

If you really believe this, go read Mike Taber’s article For Love or Money. I’ll wait here for you…

All right, now that you’re back I have some bad news that’s probably not news for anyone who manages developers:

You’re not going to pay below market and have happy developers.

Shocking? Probably not if you’ve done any hiring in the past couple years.

But paying below market is not the point of this article.

The point is that paying at or above market does not mean you are going to have happy developers. And when you have unhappy developers, giving them more money is very unlikely to make them happy. So it’s not to say “developers don’t want money” or “developers will work for free if you give them these things,” but “once the basics are accounted for in a job (such as market pay) here are some things that will keep developers happy and working at your company.”

Again, I am absolutely not saying that developers don’t want money. Developers want money just like everyone else! But there comes a point where you have to go beyond that simplistic solution to keep your developers happy and loyal.

Throwing money at a problem shows a lack of creativity. It’s a lot like a price war — if you’re a vendor you never want to compete with another vendor strictly on price because there’s always someone who will go cheaper, and you will eventually become a commodity and lose the game. It’s the same with salaries – there is always a company that will be willing to pay more than you, so you have to offer something they can’t or won’t.

Long-term, offering more of the “nine things” is a far more sustainable strategy than offering more money.

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