Software development is a competitive field that requires time, effort, and energy. It demands lots of thinking and concentration from developers. Hence, they need to have brains in good shape.
But, the dark side is that the tech industry can be a challenging place to focus on wellness. Since developers are very much immersed in their jobs, it mainly goes unnoticed.
- According to Haystack, 88% of developers report burnout
- As per the Stack Overflow Developer survey, 15% of 65000 developers have mental health issues. But, few of them are unaware of it.
In this article, we will be diving deep into developers’ well-being. And how Typo is helping to resolve this major issue. We will be covering the three aspects of developer well-being – Why, What, and How. So, stay tuned!
Table of content
- Why developer well-being is important?
- What are the aspects of developer well-being?
- How to calculate these focus areas?
Why developer well-being is important?
Google defines well-being as ‘The state of being comfortable, healthy, and happy.’
Developers have a lot on their plates. From coding and maintaining software systems to testing them at various stages, they are usually busy with day-to-day activities.
It can cause burnout that further impacts their productivity and performance level. As a result, it can hinder the stages of the software development life cycle. The lack of motivation and creativity obstructs the planning process which directly affects the quality of the coding process. As a result, more errors delay the product to the end-user.
Developers are affected by both technological and sociological aspects of their job. Hence, these need to be evaluated in concert to deeply understand developers’ well-being.
Burnout is also one of the major factors in high turnover rates in the workplace.
If neglected for a longer period, It can further deteriorate the physical and mental well-being of the developers.
Hence, it is crucial for engineering managers to always consider developers’ well-being. It may seem to be an invisible factor, but there is a way.
In the next section, we will be discussing in-depth what Typo offers to developers and engineering managers.
What are the aspects of developers’ well-being?
Through Typo, we aim to help engineering managers take note of their developers’ well-being. Our framework is an outcome of intensive primary and secondary scientific research into the key drivers and elements that impact experience and engagement at each tenure and the organization as a whole.
Below are the 7 EX drivers:
Further, these EX drivers have 29 unique elements that provide a comprehensive and in-depth measure of mood, engagement & experience at every stage.
The leadership’s ability to set and communicate clear direction to the engineering team
Developers need to feel connected with the leadership. Hence, focusing on leadership’s ability to establish connections with developers across the organization
The leadership’s ability to inspire confidence and commitment in the developers to come together to achieve organizational goals
Open and honest communication
Open and Honest communication goes a long way in building trust and confidence in the developers
Invested in the organization’s success
Developers trust their leader better if they have the confidence that they will do everything in their power to do what is right for them and the organization
Policies and benefits
Their presence may not be a significant boost for engagement, but their unavailability can lead to disengagement
This parameter focuses on developers’ need to have a comfortable workspace and the necessary tools, systems, processes, and access available to carry out their job
Developers view this factor from a lens of how the organization is contributing back to society and they derive a sense of satisfaction from being a part of this journey. It also looks at how organization encourages them to lead their own efforts to contribute to society
Strategy and vision
The sole purpose of the existence of an organization. Developers who relate well to the organizational purpose and are inspired by it, display better engagement levels, and show a significantly high voluntary effort to achieve results
Goals and targets
Clarity about goals and targets, timeliness in setting goals, discussions about them, and fairness of the process are important to ensure that developers are well aware and focused on what they need to achieve.
Flexibility about developers’ way of doing work can be key in engaging and motivating them
Sense of purpose
If developers feel accomplished and their job can make them feel that way, it will ensure that they are very well-engaged and highly productive
Job – person fit
How developers feel if they are in the right job or they have the right skill set. It has a direct impact on engagement, contribution, and productivity
An organization’s willingness to adopt flexible work options can go a long way in engaging a diverse workforce in today’s gig economy
A key role of an Engineering manager is to be “aware” of their developers’ team and be empathetic to their situations. They should be able to demonstrate “care” for them to help build trust
Coach and guide
The engineering manager is expected to act as a role model and coach and guide their team to great performance and a great career at the company
Developers expect engineering managers to provide their teams with quality and timely feedback. The feedback that they can work with them to improve upon their performance/contributions
Freedom of opinion
Engineering managers who promote new ideas, and different perspectives, even though these may be conflicting or challenging, help promote innovation, openness, trust, and confidence in the team.
This aspect tries to understand if the developers feel appreciated and recognized for the good work they do.
Culture and values
Fair and transparent
Ways of working that create Openness and trust between engineering managers and developers. It establishes an environment where the organization operates fairly toward all its stakeholders.
This focuses on building a performance culture in the organization without any favoritism and biases. Rewards and recognition is based on this culture of performance is the key driver.
Safety and wellbeing
Workplace Safety and well-being relate to all aspects of working life, from the quality and safety of the physical environment, to how developers feel about the organization’s interest in their well-being
This parameter covers other Organization values that the organization holds dear and evaluates how developers relate to it
It talks about the developers’ ability to work with each other and support each other for the overall success of the team and the organization
Commitment to quality work
Developers who deliver high-quality output respect each other. Moreover, as they are committed to high-quality output they deliver better results and thereby raise the quality of output for the developers as a whole
This aspect focuses on the personal connection that developers have toward one another
Career and learning
This parameter explores an organization’s ability and willingness to provide learning opportunities to its developers so that they upskill and develop themselves
This aspect provides an understanding of the organization’s ability to provide a fulfilling career to developers’
This aspect explores that developers have a good understanding of the organization’s compensation philosophy
How to assess & act on developer well-being?
There are various ways to calculate the above-mentioned focus and sub-focus areas.
As mentioned above, Burnout is the main reason for mental and physical health issues among developers. Hence, it is necessary to not ignore the signs and take the necessary actions.
The burnout signs may vary, but common ones include:
- Disengaged in work
- Feelings of fatigue
- Disruptions in sleep patterns
- A decline in the quality of work
- Constant headache
- Taking a longer time to finish the task
- Increased irritability,
And so on.
Although, these signs could be due to other reasons as well or may go unnoticed. It is important to monitor them through the engineering platform.
Typo tracks the work habits of developers across multiple activities, such as Commits, PRs, Reviews, Comments, Tasks, After-work hour commits, and Merges, over a certain period.
If these patterns consistently exceed the average of other developers or violate predefined benchmarks, the system identifies them as being in the burnout zone or at risk of burnout. These benchmarks can be customized to meet your specific needs.
When the system flags a developer, it is advisable to review their work logs to gain insights into their workload distribution and take appropriate action. These pointers are important to help you drive effective conversations & remove blockers proactively.
Pulse Check-ins and Dev NPS (or Developer net promoter score):
- Step 1: Pulse Check-ins and Dev NPS
Pulse Check-ins is a brief and concise survey that helps in understanding how your developers feel at the organization. It contains a short set of questions related to employee satisfaction, work environment, job role, coworkers, and communication.
These short surveys are anonymous so that developers can be open and honest about their opinions. Pulse check-ins are usually done continuously to gather real-time insights and feedback from them.
Dev-NPS is a way of measuring how your developers feel about the organization. It is a survey-based method that gives a holistic view of developer experience (along with other key metrics). To calculate Dev-NPS, here is a quick formula for it:
Promoters % – Detractors % * 100
- Promoters: They represent those developers who have a high level of satisfaction and loyalty towards their organization. They scored 9-10 or agree/strongly agree in their satisfaction survey.
- Passive: These are the set of developers who are moderately satisfied at the workplace. However, they are not actively engaged and lack of loyalty. They scored 7-8 or neutral in their satisfaction survey.
- Detractors: They are the ones who are unsatisfied with the workplace and disengaged in their positions. They scored 6 or below or disagree/strongly disagree in their satisfaction survey.
A few of the rules you need to keep in mind for writing good surveys are:
- The questions should be to the point and direct. Every question should ask only one thing.
- Don’t change wording at all, if you want to compare the results.
While our Typo platform covers features such as engineering insights and real-time visibility into SDLC metrics. It also lets engineering managers take note of developers’ well-being in one place.
Below are the five elements that the Typo covers to help engineering managers in pulse check-ins and Dev-NPS.
- Mood analysis: How do your developers feel working at the organization?
- Well-being score: How much are your developers engaged at the organization?
- Feedback response rate: How many employees are responding to the employee feedback survey?
- Key areas that are working well: What are the key areas that are the strength of the workplace?
- Key areas that need improvement: What are the blind spots that need to be addressed quickly?
But this is not all! Engineering managers need to take note of them and further, communicate accordingly with developers.
And, this is how one-on-one meetings come into the picture.
- Step 2: One-on-one meetings:
You now have a holistic view of how your developers feel working at your organization. Let’s move on to another step i.e. One-on-one meetings.
These meetings are a great way to communicate with your team on a personal level. It allows you to understand the need and challenges faced by the developers in the organization.
Ensure that you don’t confuse it with regular sync-up meetings. Keep the work aside and discuss their honest opinions about the workplace. Ask them about the key strength areas and blind spots in-depth. Know how the organization is aligned with their personal growth and so on.
There are many software available in the market such as HuddleUp, Notion templates, and ClickUp that let you create agendas, add talking points, and schedule meetings. As a result, making your work easier and let you focus only on the latter part.
- Step 3: Create an action plan:
Based on Pulse Check-ins, Dev-NPS, and One-on-one meetings, create an action plan.
When identifying action steps, know what are the pain points and trends within your organization that need to be addressed.
Let’s assume that on the Typo platform, the three main parameters that have lower ratings are: Compensation, open and honest communication, and work-life balance. Further, to get more information about it, you conduct one-on-one meetings with your team. Hence, based on it, you have in-depth insights into what really the problem is. Now, you can create an action plan accordingly.
Make sure that you set a SMART outline to set the right goal.
- Specific: Goals should be clearly defined.
- Measurable: Ensure that your goals can be easily measured.
- Attainable: Goals should be possible to achieve. Even when you are setting high goals.
- Relevant: Goals should be relevant to the abilities, skills, and interests of the developers.
- Time-based: Goals should have specific deadlines including a starting and target date.
Besides this, make sure there is a timeline for smaller tasks.
To get more benefits from the action plan, you can create a template for the same. This reduces rework and saves your time and effort.
Don’t forget to monitor your progress after a specific period. Keep track of the improvement and where more attention is needed.
This step may seem to be a daunting task but it has benefits that help in the long run. A few of them include:
- It helps engineering managers and developers know each other properly.
- It let you understand the ‘why’ behind the developers’ intentions and motives.
- It helps in understanding the challenges faced by developers and giving support to them accordingly.
- It serves as a platform for exchanging positive and constructive feedback.
Recognition and acknowledgment:
Let’s assume three developers worked on:
- Hardest algorithm problem and solved it on time.
- Writing clean and easy-to-understand code.
- Ensuring that there are no obstacles in the deployment process
They not only made the tasks easier for other developers but made sure that everything is done smoothly. It may seem that this is what the developer’s job is for, but their efforts deserve acknowledgment and recognition.
Recognition and appreciation are one of the overlooked aspects of the workplace. You assume they already know that you love their work but this is not the right approach. Everyone, including developers, wants to get acknowledged for their work.
It doesn’t mean that you need to give them a gift but a simple thank you goes a long way too! All you have to do is let them know their presence is valued and matters a lot at the workplace.
A few of the advantages of recognizing developers at the workplace include:
- Retain and attract top talent
- Increases their productivity and performance
- Promote positive behaviors among developers
- Improves connections and feelings of well-being
- Increases employee engagement
One of the ways to acknowledge developers and the engineering team is through the kudos (or donut) feature by the HuddleUp Slack app. Best for engineering teams to gamify the conventional recognition methods. As soon as someone did an outstanding job or does anything that needs to be done urgently, give them kudos.
Another way of doing so is to recognize them with the tags. Such as Developer of the Month, Job-well Done, Backbone of our team, and so on.
Although there are many ways to encourage developers’ well-being. The above-mentioned ones are the most important.
To understand what’s going on in your engineering team’s mind, pulse check-ins, Dev-NPS, and one-on-one are the best ways to do so. As it not only allows you to know the blind spots but also figure out the reason behind them.
Burnout is the root cause of mental and physical health issues among developers. Hence, it is crucial to know about it before it gets too late.
Since recognition and appreciation are the underrated key factors to drive engagement and productivity, it needs to be taken into consideration too.
Make sure that you implement them and monitor the progress continuously so that your team is happy working at the workplace.
All the best!