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According to a new study by Stepsize, 51% of engineers left or considered leaving their job because of technical debt. This explains why compensation and growth opportunities might not be enough to keep engineers happy; technical debt causes frustration and hinders innovation.

At a high level, technical debt is a delayed maintenance cost caused by initial tradeoffs between quality and speed. Businesses today spend a great portion of their profit on hiring engineers; therefore, it’s essential for them to keep their staff turnover as low as possible and look closely for reasons such as technical debt that cause engineers to leave their jobs.

An overwhelming 82% of engineers stated that lack of proper development practices affects their job satisfaction. “As a developer, I want to join an organization with a clean, logical codebase. If I get an opportunity, I can also take a messy, chaotic codebase and make it a good one. That’s a long battle, but a worthwhile one,” said cloud application architect Brian Richardson.

However, companies tend to underinvest in maintenance and codebase health. Engineers often feel pressure to sacrifice code quality to meet deadlines and ship new features fast, which increases the growth and impact of technical debt.

“The right way to fight technical debt is to talk about it across the whole company so that everyone can understand why it’s vital to manage it carefully,” said Alex Omeyer, CEO at Stepsize. “To fill in the communication gap between stakeholders and technical people, developers can try to use more business-oriented metrics such as time lost by engineering teams or an impact of technical debt on customers.”

Stepsize surveyed 200+ senior and junior engineers at enterprises, SMEs, and startups to find out how codebase health and technical debt impact hiring and employee retention.

Read the full report by Stepsize.

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