Why QA Testers Quit And How To Retain Top Performers | Straight Talk

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This article is by Featured Blogger Ruslan Desyatnikov, Founder and CEO, QA Mentor, Inc. originally published on his Blog Page. Republished with the author’s permission.

As the DevOps practice continues to expedite the pulse of innovation, its participants are compelled to pivot in accordance with this new shift sweeping over the IT industry.

One example of those participants is QA testing engineers. Much like other departments, a QA team used to be a sovereign part of the software development cycle, just like separate cubicles and enclosed areas comprised office layouts in days past.

Today, the emergence of the DevOps methodology is rewriting the rules of the development cycle where the whole process is seen less like an assembly of individual components; rather, it’s synonymous with the contemporary, open-office design whose boundaries are growing less distinguishable as the new business culture based on collaboration continues to gain momentum. With DevOps’ emphasis on communication and speed, QA testers are no longer hired to find defects behind the scenes post factum — they are active agents who rely on their creative prowess to contribute to the development process in real time.

But as QA testers’ roles are being reevaluated, it logically follows that these professionals are also reevaluating their own purpose within the new DevOps framework. “Am I learning enough in my current job?” and “Am I making a difference?” are common questions QA testers are asking themselves (and their managers).

This represents an interesting inflection point for managers and team leaders for several reasons. While automation, AI and machine learning continue to outpace legacy environments, QA tasks are becoming more complex with testers being asked to shoulder more responsibility than in previous years. Also, testers are operating in a tight job market, which gives them a range of options outside their existing contracts. Unsurprisingly, such a climate is inducing more and more employers to offer training opportunities and perks beyond good salaries in order to attract and retain top-tier talent.

High Turnover Costs

The turnover rate for QA testers is difficult to distill into an industry-wide statistic, but in my own experience, you can expect your testing engineer’s tenure to last about three years, on average. This is acceptable enough, but it doesn’t come without some investment from the management’s side; a range of companies experience shorter employment cycles, especially with QAs who view their role as a transient, in-between job. Add that to the average cost of hiring being more than $4,000, (the amount goes up if you take into account the full cost of onboarding and training) and it’s hardly surprising that galvanizing a good employee retention strategy is crucial to your organization's success.

If you have adopted the DevOps practice to boost collaboration, speed and efficiency, you can’t afford to lose good QA testing engineers. But if you are experiencing high tester turnover, the information below may provide some insight as to why — and how to stop it. Your testers may be experiencing low job satisfaction that, with a little bit of effort on your end, may be completely reversible.

Stuck In A Career Rut

If testers aren’t given proper training to improve their technical skills (a must in the DevOps practice), such as automation, performance and security testing, they’ll remain trapped as manual testers for far too long. The low learning curve doesn’t just make people feel bored, it also robs them of meaningful growth opportunities to become QA leads, test managers or project test coordinators. Without a corporate ladder to climb, they’ll either stay in the same spot without adding any growing value to your company or simply quit when the right opportunity knocks on the door.

The Money Factor

A number of companies keep testers in the same positions because they don’t want to raise salaries and compensate for management roles. Predictably, this practice encourages some testers to quit more often as a way of obtaining faster salary increases. If they can’t get a salary hike through the company’s typical channels for evaluating the employee’s performance, such as annual appraisals, customer and peer feedback and overall quality of work, don’t be surprised if they jump ship.

Same Old, Same Old

In many companies, testers are placed on multi-year projects where they test the same application day after day. While some employees are complacent about change, countless end up jaded about the impact they’re making in their role. Curious, assertive employees with a proclivity to problem-solving need to be challenged or they’ll seek opportunities where they can make a real contribution and feel truly valued as employees. In today’s knowledge economy based on intellectual capital, people aren’t content with being another cog in the wheel: They want to make a difference.

Friction With Developers

I’ve seen a range of communication problems surface between developers and testers. This is to be expected from time to time given the high degree of interconnectedness and overlap between various roles in DevOps teams. Plus, QA testers’ roles can vary; at some junctions they review code, while at others they provide a more thorough assessment that some developers can take personally. And, every now and then, these problems result from the developers’ preconceived notions about testing, which can affect camaraderie and hamper productivity. When this happens, managers should clarify individual roles with greater precision and remind all team members that they’re working toward a common goal.

If you’re experiencing high turnover in your QA team, the tips outlined above can help you drive costs down by ensuring you retain top-performing employees. While you may need to implement some changes, the result will unequivocally justify the means. Neglecting your employees by providing inadequate training and bypassing deserved promotions will only hurt you in the end. In DevOps practice, where thwarting defects from infiltrating public sites is critical to retaining clients, companies won’t endure by delivering subpar results. As for good QA testers? They’ll survive regardless. Especially in today’s robust economy.