Main image of article The Ins and Outs of Tech Industry Burnout in 2020

For an industry that moves at a breakneck speed, it’s almost expected that burnout is part of the equation. But as the data shows, if the industry doesn’t do more to combat it, they may run the risk of driving their best talent away, and into other arenas where the work/life balance is more even.

As we discovered in The Dice 2020 Tech Salary Report, technologist burnout decreased only slightly from 2018 at a rate of 1% to 2% tops—and in some cases, the numbers dipped into the negative. Unsurprisingly, there’s a direct correlation between job satisfaction and burnout. While only 16% of satisfied technologists say they feel burnt out, 60% of respondents who said they were unsatisfied with their jobs reported feeling burnt out.

But what causes burnout isn’t necessarily just one’s workload, though that does contribute to the issue. 38% of the respondents in our report said that workload definitely contributed to their feelings of burnout, but 31% connected the issue to the number of hours they’re expected to work.

However, it goes even deeper than that. 29% of technologists felt that a lack of recognition for their work contributed to the issue, while 26% connected it to a lack of work/life balance, and 25% felt burnt out because of a lack of challenges or boredom in their work. Other issues associated with burnout included issues and friction with higher ups, not enough time off, and other assorted reasons. (Of note: our respondents were invited to include multiple reasons for their feeling of burnout, hence the percentile adding up to more than 100.)

Alongside the issue of burnout is the issue of creativity—namely, that employees want the opportunity to be more creative in their jobs, which directly relates to their job satisfaction. 26% of the technologists we spoke with shared that they want to be more creative in their roles, and that those who were less satisfied with their job or their career were seeking out roles that afforded them more creativity.

While all this information is valuable and offers important insight to your employee’s state of mind, how can you help them work through these issues to continue to be productive and thrive in their role? We have some recommendations that may help:

  • Make sure you honor their hard work, and recognize their success: Nothing says you have to go all-out and schedule a ticker tape parade, but there’s something to be said for recognizing your employee’s efforts in a public setting, and encourage team members to do the same so everyone is a part of the support system. Not only does this reduce burnout, but it also contributes to a positive team culture.
  • Show them how their work fits in and supports the company’s bigger picture. It’s all too easy to let an employee’s contributions filter in to the overall project without highlighting the importance of its part in the company mandate. When your employee knows how much what they’re doing matters, it encourages their work going forward.
  • Give your employees your trust. Few things can whittle down an employee’s self-esteem quite like micromanagement. Remember, you hired them for a reason. To avoid burnout, give them the support to do their best work, and then step back and let them do it.

  • Consider letting your employees work remotely from time to time. Granted, there are times where working from home just isn’t feasible, but when you can, why not let them work from home if they have the set up they need to properly execute their work? Studies show that remote work translates into happier, more productive employees. Plus, it can do a world of good for the mental health of those who have an especially long commute.
  • Offer the opportunity to work on special projects. For example, Google offers “20 percent time” to their employees to allow them to use a fifth of their workweek to pursue a project that may not necessarily translate to the company’s bottom line. But creativity leads to innovation, so you never know what that experience may lead to in their remaining work time. And at a minimum, it can reduce burnout.
  • Schedule events like hackathons, meet-ups and inspirational talks. Hackathons serve multiple purposes, including encouraging your employee’s creativity, offering a fun morale boost, and even working as a recruiting tool. Meanwhile, having meet-ups with other industry professionals and inspirational talks with titans of the business can help inspire new directions and reignite your employee’s passion for their work.
  • Leave room for creative interpretation on project approaches. Not every project requires the exact same approach to bring it to successful fruition. Let your technologists approach each project individually and tackle them with a different mindset to find more creative solutions for delivery. You never know—they might lead you to an all-new innovation.

To gain more insights into employee burnout and methods to combat the issue, make read The Dice 2020 Tech Salary Report, and take a look at the graphs below to see what employees have to say about the issues exacerbating their burnout—and how it compares to the rest of the industry.