Industry Insights 5 What causes software development team burnout?

Industry Insights


What causes software development team burnout?

by | Dec 5, 2020 | All, Programming, Remote, Software Development

About The Author Julio Lopez

Julio Lopez is a career UI/UX designer with an extensive marketing and development background. He is responsible for the evolution and consistency of our brand.

Workplace burnout can cause serious problems for software development companies. The causes of workplace burnout are many, and, without intervention by the company or a shift in company culture, burnout of software engineers and development teams can delay progress and innovation. Here, we’ll explore the causes of burnout, as well as workable solutions that many software development companies can employ to reduce this problem with their human capital.

Causes of Burnout

Burnout can have many causes and many of these stem from a lack of self-care. Healthy lifestyle habits and taking care of the body can help reduce the mental fatigue that many programmers and software developers can experience. Other common causes of burnout stem from the company, and a culture that leaves employees feeling unmotivated and burnt out.

Poor selfcare

Lack of care for that body can result in the mind becoming dull, and a person can quickly lose motivation for their job. Feeling physically tired and run down can easily lead to burnout. Long hours, poor diet, and reduced fitness can negatively impact a person’s mental health. Burnout also makes people not brush their teeth or shower as much, and this can quickly turn into a cycle of depression and lack of motivation. For software development teams, especially, long hours spent working on detailed tasks take time away from cooking a healthy meal, exercising, or creating a balance between work and time with family and friends.

isolation from others

Even without the changes necessitated by the global pandemic, software developers and programmers often worked in isolation from others. Much of the work is done remotely or in solitary conditions, and while there are certain team projects for many software companies, lack of regular interaction with others can lead people to feel isolated isolation and loneliness can lead to burnout. Long hours, or working at odd hours, especially for teams that are spread out among different timezones, can add to the sense of isolation.

If possible, encourage employees to interact with one another through company-sponsored social events or through the “virtual gatherings” that have become popular.

lack of sleep

Not getting enough sleep, or having poor sleep hygiene can also reduce a person’s energy and make them feel tired and run down. Consistent sleep boosts a person’s overall health and vitality, reducing the chances of exhaustion that leads to burn out. Some developers and software engineers work “graveyard” shifts and sleep during the day, which can upset their bodies’ circadian rhythms and decrease energy and motivation.

lack of exercise

Regular exercise helps reduce the effects of the sedentary lifestyle that many software teams have, with a job that requires long hours sitting still. If possible, get up and walk around for 5 minutes every hour or make time to get a 30-minute workout session every day. Some companies encourage this by subsidizing gym memberships or encouraging contests for getting a certain number of steps each day.

poor nutrition

They say you are what you eat, and having poor nutrition can make people feel lethargic and unfocused. Change snacks to healthier options, such as fruit or vegetable sticks, and reduce the number of sodas and sugary beverages you drink each day.

weak programming culture

Weak programming culture is another reason for burnout. Mentoring for software development companies s important, and training and mentoring of junior developers by senior programmers is important to ensure that “technical debts” are avoided. Making sure to take care of the future cost of present work can strengthen the company culture and help these junior programmers grow in their skills. However, a weak programming culture and lack of training of newer associates may cause the scenario where developers need to stay late or work longer hours to take up the slack caused by poor training and mentoring, which leads to burnout of the top performers.

preventing software developer burnout

Preventing software developer burnout starts by reframing the company culture to encourage programmers to have a healthy work-life balance, without feeling overwhelmed and isolated at work.

follow an iterative development process

Always follow an iterative development process on large projects. Develop some modules and compile and test them. Develop some more modules. Do not code an entire massive program, without ever compiling or debugging.

keep things fresh

If you’re constantly engaging in the same tasks or using the same technology day after day, it’s easy to start to lose the passion for the challenges that coding and software development brings. Try to work on different projects or changing up your routine. Take a look at your schedule, as well – there may be some tasks that you’re putting off that you can take care of. Procrastination often causes burnout, as the unpleasant things you need to do keep looming on your agenda. If you find yourself putting certain things off, commit to taking care of them first thing when you start your day, and this can help relieve some of the stress and burnout.


Reducing burnout for your software development team starts with changing company culture to help developers and coders take better personal care of themselves by eating well, and getting exercise. Other things that companies can change include better training for newer programmers and following iterative development processes. Reducing burnout improves employee morale and often increases the creativity and performance of software development teams.

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