Tuesday, 7 August 2007

The cost of hiring poor programmers

In Sydney, where I live, there is a real skill shortage at the moment. Even highly profitable companies (who one assumes can afford it) are having trouble getting good people and filling roles.

One thing I have seen several times is that when companies can't find the person they want, they lower their expectations. They keep doing this until they can hire 'someone'.

This has several negative effects on the company, and not many positive ones:
  • The person can't possibly fill the requirements the company had in the first place.
  • Existing Employees will resent the fact that inferior people are being bought in, pushing more work to them without them receiving the benefits (which in a buyers market the new, inferior guy gets).
  • 2 leads to more turnover, which can lead to more of these people being hired, which can cause things to snowball.

While I never appreciate being overworked, I really don't appreciate making up for people who aren't up to the job.

My view is if you can't find the right people you need to look at why you aren't appealing to those people. And if you are budget constrained don't throw your hands up in the air. Money is rarely the biggest factor in these things. You need to ask yourself what sort of people you need and what those people want. Things to think about include:
  • Leave/working hours - not everyone is a 9-5*5*48 weeks a year kind of guy. The best person working 3 days a week or 9 months a year, is a far better asset than an inferior person doing 9-5 all year.
  • work environment - If you insist your storage engineer wears a suit you will miss out on all the good storage engineers. If you insist your LAMP installation is deployed on a Windows, you will miss out on all the good Apache/Perl/etc. people.
  • Telecommuting. If you trust people enough to let them work where they are most comfortable, they will do more work. If you don't trust your employees to work from home they won't trust you to reward them for the work they do.

So don't settle. Become the employer people want to work for !

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