According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average annual turnover rate for software engineers is higher than the average in many other sectors (57.3% in 2023). Resignations are the primary cause for this high rate, with a lesser fraction being due to termination or layoffs.
Employee burnout is a common factor that contributes to staff turnover. Even if an employee starts with great zeal for the company and its goals, they may later realize that the job is causing excessive stress, making it not worthwhile.
When team members start experiencing burnout, it can have a domino effect on management. This can result in work abandonment, reductions in productivity and increased resignations. Therefore, it’s imperative to take swift action if signs of burnout manifest within the team.
In Other Words, What Does Burnout Truly Mean?
The World Health Organisation (WHO) defines burnout as an “occupational phenomenon” that entails feelings of exhaustion, emotional disengagement from work, negativity or cynicism toward one’s job, and decreased work performance.
Burnout is a phenomenon that can arise due to stress, exhaustion, and overworking. It may manifest in varying forms for different individuals, but some of the most frequent indications are:
- Lack of motivation
- Physical complaints
- Experiencing isolation
- Anxiety, depression, and other mental health conditions
Resolving Employee Exhaustion
1. Implement Open-Door Management
It’s advantageous to proactively arm yourself with the requisite knowledge to prevent burnout. Additionally, it’s crucial to foster an atmosphere in which software engineers feel at ease discussing any difficulties they may be encountering with you. This will enable them to realise that they have a refuge to turn to.
It can be advantageous to conduct regular check-ins, affording the software engineers an opportunity to voice any concerns, regardless of the extent.
2. Encourage Team Collaboration
Isolation at work can exacerbate burnout. A considerable number of programmers spend prolonged periods by themselves, staring at their computers. This working style can be harmful to both physical and mental wellbeing.
As a manager, it’s crucial to emphasise the significance of teamwork and cooperation. This not only aids in reducing isolation but also has the potential to enhance job performance and the overall workplace atmosphere.
3. Mix Things Up
As a software engineer, staying engaged is vital to remaining energised and effective. To maintain the motivation and enthusiasm of your programming team, delve into new software concepts or explore potential new markets. Additionally, consider refreshing the company’s technology stack by introducing new technologies and programming languages.
By investing in training, staff can be encouraged to broaden their skillset while remaining current with the latest developments in the rapidly evolving software industry.
4. Make an Effort to Understand the Work your Developers are Engaging in
When a non-technical manager oversees a team of technical experts, there’s a significant chance of misunderstandings and tensions arising. If you’re a manager who lacks a background in software or technology, this doesn’t imply that you can’t collaborate effectively with your team; it simply means that it may take more time and effort to comprehend their roles and provide them with the requisite support.
Have an open discussion about the time and effort needed for different tasks and activities, as well as the other factors involved in managing workloads. Determine the support and resources your team requires from you. This will allow them to feel appreciated on a deeper level.
5. Monitor Project Turnaround and Team Engagement Closely
Track the progress of projects by examining critical performance metrics and other pertinent data. Stay involved and offer assistance and direction as required to ensure that any encountered difficulties are detected and addressed promptly. The objective is to act proactively to avert further complications.
When faced with delays or issues, it’s crucial to consider all possible causes, rather than solely blaming developer incompetence. Stress on the part of employees and external factors may be contributing factors and should be considered.
6. Expand Career Opportunities Beyond Mundane Tasks
As an employer, it’s critical to guarantee that employees are invested in their work and the company itself. Software engineers are especially susceptible to burnout, boredom, and stress due to spending extended periods in front of a computer.
Investing in your employees’ professional development can mitigate the risk of burnout caused by routine tasks. Offering them additional career growth prospects such as seminars, guest speakers, and workshops can boost their involvement in their work and decrease the likelihood of burnout.
7. Provide Structured Career Advancement
Employees who believe that their career has come to a halt are more vulnerable to burnout. To support the software engineers in your team, it’s crucial to offer career advancement prospects. This should include unambiguous instructions on the actions they need to take to advance their career, such as receiving a promotion to a senior developer or managerial position, and how long it may take to achieve this.
8. Consider Outsourcing Some Work
Burnout resulting from excessive workloads is becoming more widespread. In short, if your team is overburdened, outsourcing may be a potential option. An outsourced software development team could be an excellent solution to your staffing requirements.
Outsourcing could be a temporary or permanent solution, but hiring external help could be advantageous in enhancing productivity and avoiding burnout among your in-house software engineering team.
Software development is a field where burnout is highly prevalent and can significantly affect your organisation. As a manager, you can play a pivotal role in cultivating a supportive and rewarding work atmosphere for your employees by fostering engagement and contentment.