To Prevent Burnout, Start at the Top

Burnout is a problem that plagues many of today’s tech professionals. The root causes for burnout can vary – sometimes the professional doesn’t have the right position, or other times they feel overworked and/or underpaid. But there’s another source in particular that effects many professionals, and it starts with employers.

In the most recent Dice Tech Salary Report, 35 percent of tech professionals say they feel “very burnt out.” Of these respondents, the highest cause (36 percent) is due lack of recognition. Meanwhile, 35 percent point to their workload as the chief reason they’re burnt out, while 28 percent feel unchallenged at work. 26 percent claim a poor work-life balance is causing stress, while 18 percent say “friction” with their boss is an issue.

Check out this handy infographic that breaks down tech professional burnout causes:

Why exactly is a lack of recognition the source of so many tech professionals’ burnout? The likely answer is a simple one, and it centers around demand and reward. Tech positions are in high demand, meaning if a company can land even a handful of professionals to take on the workload for a specific task, it can be a success. For tech professionals, this can mean going above and beyond, with limited resources. And if the result shows little to know recognition, this is bound to have a negative effect over time.

At the same time, the work of many tech professionals is to keep a particular app, software or website running smoothly. In many ways, when these tools work as expected, these professionals are succeeding in their responsibilities, albeit under the radar. It’s not until disaster strikes that all the behind the scenes work of the tech professional comes into the forefront and they’re expected to fix an issue as quickly as possible. And thus, burnout ensues.

Businesses might benefit from readjusting their recognition and culture to emphasize when things go right (especially for extended periods of time), rather than sounding the alarm on developers when issues surface. A nice byproduct of this (besides reducing burnout), is that it promotes an attractive culture of recognition from the top-down. As upper management gives kudos where it is due, employees are more likely to also recognize and celebrate one another.

Burnout, as with many other things, all comes down to company culture; creating a space where employees look forward to coming in everyday, feel inspired about the work they’re doing, and yes, feel recognized for their accomplishments. Remember, burnout is manageable.