Software developers are not computers. They are fragile human beings with complex emotions who must be cared for in a rapidly changing, technologies-overloaded world. Today we will discover if technologists are happy and healthy and, if not, what can be done about it.
According to the World Health Organization, burnout is an ‘occupational phenomenon’ recognized by the medical community worldwide and characterized by three dimensions:
Our colleagues carried out a small survey of 350 respondents. The results were interesting: 70% of developers were happy at work, while more than 14% were unhappy, and 15% remained indifferent.
The survey also demonstrated that salary (60%), work-life balance (58%), flexibility (52%), productivity (52%), and growth opportunities (49%) are the top five reasons for developers’ happiness. By the way, did you know that the happiest developers live in Spain (90%)?
On the other hand, developers’ unhappiness is driven by a low salary, the absence of a healthy work-life balance, feeling unproductive at work, and limited growth opportunities. (2)
Two additional surveys of British and American CIOs and IT decision-makers (nearly 600 respondents in each) revealed that 83% of software engineers feel burned out at work. The key symptoms are:
The problem appears to be universal and not restricted by a certain geographical region, income, or occupation. Scientists have been studying the phenomenon of burnout for decades if not centuries (this condition was first described in the Book of Exodus). Herbert Freudenberger, an American psychologist, described the process of ‘burning out’ in 12 stages that were later simplified into five stages:
If you or someone from your immediate circle experiences burnout, returning them to everyday life as quickly as possible is necessary. Remember: speaking to your local general practitioner or mental health service is the best start in any situation!
No one but you can stop the process of burning out, the ‘plague of the 21st century’. To be able to do so, you must know simple tips for avoiding burnout in any professional sphere. Remember: it’s easier to prevent burnout than to treat it with these tips:
Here are some more ways to prevent developer burnout (applicable to any other sphere of professional interests):
The fight against burnout is two-way traffic: individual engineers and companies alike should say ‘no’ to this destructive phenomenon. Here are 13 ways of how psychologically-versed managers can motivate software developers within a team or company:
Developers working on legacy projects may face a lack of motivation and burn out more often than the rest of their professional community. In this section, we want to shine the spotlight on the causes of the lack of motivation and some possible solutions (actually, it’s Sonerim’s know-how). Let’s start with a cooking metaphor.
Everyone loves good old-fashioned dishes, be it a stew, pudding, or omelet. They smell and taste of granny’s kitchen and make you salivate. They are simple and artless, but you do enjoy them, unreasonably and illogically. They are so tasty and remind you of sweet home…
You’ve surely seen the animated film ‘Ratatouille’: an old recipe kept intact immediately transports you to realms of happiness and joy. You can’t change ingredients; they’re simple and few; you can do the only thing to make your business succeed – add a pinch of your dedicated soul.
Legacy projects, especially big-scale, heavy-weight web developments, are similar to such dishes. Young and ambitious programmers are eager to create their own unique encoding. They do not want to waste 90% of their valuable time searching for the right place in a monster-size codebase to insert several lines of supplementary code, with only 10% left for the inception of new features. At the same time, a customer aspires to keep their ‘business-as-usual’ at minimum cost.
Keeping the whole system working is a challenge! Luckily, there is this ‘magic recipe’ consisting of 3 ingredients:
Let’s have a closer look at every ingredient of the magic recipe:
A smart balance between team stability and challenging tasks is the key point if you want to avoid project cost explosion and keep developers satisfied. Your management has to reconcile the needs of your long-term customers and your staff to remain a reliable partner for both sides.
This balance presupposes:
Arranged this way, such tasks instantly become a puzzle when the whole team is engaged in cracking it with fun and excitement!
The guideline you must abide by is the following: ‘If there is no purpose, invent it!’ Senseless, routine actions or a lack of global direction and vision are uninspiring to developers and not beneficial for projects.
Understanding corporate needs is not enough; we are created in the way we want to be an integral part of something bigger and better than we are — some grand scheme beyond civilization’s technological and social development. We want to feel we do our humble part to make the world a better place.
Every company should brief its developers on a regular basis, providing in-depth and motivating analysis of the client’s business case, as well as the importance of legacy project maintenance. It’s necessary to demonstrate the potential of a new platform, its large scale, and prospective business influence.
Empowerment to decide
Making decisions about your work is essential for any specialist, especially for a software engineer who is a member of a specific professional caste. Alongside the respect for general policies defined by business leaders, the technical staff should deal with implementation tactics, deciding on items such as coding standards, tools, and design decisions.
Every company should realize that self-managed teams of developers are great partners in company strategy. They suggest changes and improvements to clients, make presentations, and offer performance optimization for outdated platforms.
The best reward for any software development company should be seeing its engineers happy, healthy, and thriving. Suppose a company succeeds in balancing at the cutting edge between stability and innovation and between employees’ health and projects’ completion. In such a scenario, it will be an inexhaustible energy source for further growth, prosperity, and sustainability. Magic, isn’t it?
Every IT brand can tell a lot of incredible, inspirational stories. They can be (a) real histories of establishing businesses and climbing to their industries’ heights and (b) storytelling strategies successfully applied in the companies’ marketing. In this article, we will talk about both types of stories that an IT brand can introduce to the world.