A happy dev is a good dev. It might sound overly simple, but keeping your software developers happy really does go hand in hand with keeping them motivated and efficient. Of course, this is true for every profession. But in each line of work, specific methods differ. Let’s find out what makes software developers happy and why it is so important for both their employers and clients.
Only recently, HackerRank shared the results of its latest Developer Skills Report, which, among many other things, sheds some light on the topic of developer happiness. Its findings may be surprising to some employers. Most crucially, developers seem to care more about a good work-life balance than perks such as stock options and various little office conveniences. While good job prospects is an obvious benefit, it still may be surprising to some that it’s right up there with work-life balance as the most important happy factor.
But why should employers care about making software developers happy in the first place?
Why should software developers be happy at work?
Because they are not machines, they just happen to work on and with them. As simple as it sounds, it is precisely because they are humans that their efficiency and level of motivation are extremely complicated mechanisms that depend on a variety of factors.
A developer that doesn’t think they are growing at work is bound to find their routine hard to bear. Not only is an unmotivated developer like this inefficient, but their bad energy is sure to influence other team mates. An unhappy workplace like this works like an abyss that pulls in anyone that comes along.
Unhappy developers will eventually seek other employers, leaving you just when they are becoming really good at what they do. And keeping them will cost a lot more money than it would if your workplace was a happy one, since money may be the only thing that keeps an unhappy developer going.
So how can you prevent all this and keep your developers happy at work? Here is what works for us.
Give them challenging and interesting projects
It’s hard to be a software developer if you are not passionate about it. The passionate ones learn and improve the most and are dream employees for every software company. But the enthusiasm of those same developers quickly fades when faced with tedious, uninspiring and repetitive jobs that don’t help them grow and do not provide a proper challenge. Provide them with interesting projects that have them solve all kinds of problems. And if boring work has to be done, make sure to switch developers from time to time to prevent them getting stuck in a rut. Of course, interesting and challenging can mean something else for different developers and may not necessarily refer just to technologies. Therefore, before you make your decisions, listen to their opinions.
Help them grow as developers and humans
Aside from interesting projects, there are many other things you can do to make sure that developers don’t feel like they are wasting their time at your company. For junior and mid-level developers, the best way to improve can be to let them work with more experience developers. At the same time, senior programmers may find it invigorating and challenging to properly pass their knowledge to their younger peers. Being a mentor for others helps also a lot with soft skills development, skill being often neglected along the way of typical software developer career. In Software Mind, all of these efforts and more are analyzed and discussed during one-to-one feedback meetings organized usually twice a year between employee and its supervisor. Ultimate goal of the feedback meeting is verifying and planning person’s development in many fields (not only technical one). Based on that, employee skills may be grown in a more personalized manner.
Of course, sending your developers to popular events and conferences and making sure that their efforts are noticed and rewarded is also important. All of these are cobblestones that pave the way for long-term cooperation with software developers and building the culture of continuous development and improvement.
Be flexible and empathic with work schedules
No matter how ambitious a developer is, everyone needs a break and proper work-life balance. Not every employee will openly admit that, though. However, the least their employer can do is not to try to discourage them from searching for it. This should include being flexible with the work schedule, allowing telecommuting if need be, or a leave of absence, even on a very short notice, when circumstances call for it.
Keep red tape small
Every software company has its own rules regarding job reporting. It’s vital for both tracking the quality of work of each employee and as part of project management for individual projects. However, it’s quite easy to cross the line between thorough and tedious. Reporting takes away developer’s focus and is not exactly the most enjoyable part of the daily routine. Therefore, it should be kept smart, by tracking as much as possible with a minimum of effort, possibly partially automated.
Hire great project managers
Every good software company knows that a great project manager is priceless. It’s not just about making sure that each project is delivered on time. It’s also about keeping the team in good spirit. Aside from proper organizational skills, a good project manager should be technical enough to know just how time-consuming and complex some development jobs can be. There are few things more frustrating for a developer than a demanding project manager that doesn’t really know what he or she is talking about.
Software Mind is a Polish software company with its eyes set on providing the very best software development outsourcing experience. This calls for both proper outsourcing knowhow and skilled, motivated software developers. And at Software Mind we really know just how closely our developers’ satisfaction and the long-term quality of our work are related. If you want to learn more, see our career opportunities and contact us.