New data: What makes developers happy at work
One of the most striking impacts of the pandemic has been a massive reshuffling of the workforce known as the Great Resignation. Tech, in particular, has among the highest resignation rates in any industry, with a 4.5% increase in departures in 2021 compared to 2020.
What’s driving this trend? It’s certainly not a lack of demand: the last two years have seen unprecedented growth across nearly every technology-driven industry. Strapped teams compounded with the pressures of rapid growth typically translate to high-stress environments for developers. The notion that burnout is the principal driver of the resignation crisis in tech makes sense at first.
That said, we learned at the end of 2021 that nearly 80% of developers aren’t actively looking for a new job. What to make of these two contrasting data points? Maybe the answer lies not with the opportunities at other companies, but with developers’ satisfaction with their own. Are developers actually happy at work? And what makes the difference between happiness and unhappiness: salary, flexibility, intellectual challenge, or all of the above? We surveyed over 350 developers across the globe to find out.
What regions and countries have the happiest developers in the world?
Roughly 70% of working developers are happy at work right now, with over 90% saying it is important for them to be happy at work. India, the U.S., Germany, Spain, and the U.K. are the five happiest countries for developers.
Money isn’t everything, but it helps.
When we dug deeper, we found that salary (60%), work-life balance (58%), flexibility (52%), productivity (52%), and growth opportunities (49%) were the top five reasons for developers to be happy at work. This data mirrors what other companies, like Skillsoft, have found in recent surveys.
Similarly, the inverse of these reasons were the top five reasons developers are unhappy at work: a low salary, no work-life balance, feeling unproductive at work, and the absence of growth opportunities. Feeling unproductive at work was number one (45%) among the factors that cause unhappiness—even above salary, which slipped to fourth (37%). Similar to our recent research around what developers prioritize when they look for new job opportunities, flexibility and productivity consistently reign supreme.
“Feeling productive at work plays a much more critical role in team happiness than we probably realize. It shouldn’t be as surprising as it is,” said Matt Kiernander, technical advocate here at Stack Overflow. “When I code, I don’t like disruptions in my flow state. Constantly stopping and starting makes me feel unproductive. We all want to feel like we’re making a difference, and hitting roadblocks at work just because you’re not sure where to find answers is incredibly frustrating.”
A greenhouse might be the ideal developer habitat.
In the past, we might assume the majority of developers worked from an office at least part of the time. But the pandemic has produced a massive shift to hybrid and fully remote work. With the home now becoming an office, new priorities emerge. When asked what makes for the ideal work environment, developers put windows, quiet surroundings, bright natural light, and plants at the top of the list. Just give them a chair and you’ve rounded out the top five elements of an ideal workspace. All in all, developers value flexibility. Not every work environment works for everyone in the same ways. Still, 45% developers say the ideal work environment is in their own home, while 27% say it’s in an office building. As if we needed further evidence that hybrid work was here to stay.
Are developers happy at work? About 70% of the professional developers that we surveyed say they are. Why does it seem like there is so much movement in the workplace? Well, 20% of developers looking for new opportunities add up to a lot of people on a global scale.
For managers at organizations looking to hire and retain great tech talent, the most pressing question these days is: How do you ensure your developers are among the happy ones? Money doesn’t hurt, but our research indicates leaders should prioritize flexibility, work-life balance, and productivity. The ideal work environment varies greatly from person to person, but most want to be at home… or in a greenhouse. Good news: hybrid work allows for both.Tags: happiness, pulse-survey, survey, work-life balance
What makes developers happy at work? no meetings. That’s why WFH is so great. We can work through all the useless meetings while the non-techies drone on thinking that they’re the ones actually getting work done. Meanwhile, they’ve always wasted our time. If I had a dollar for every time a non-techy asked me a question and just stole my answer whole sale to give to another non -techy. Cut out the middle people and pay us more!
greenhouses don’t typically have windows… also they smell strongly of dust.
Awesome and great job👏🎉 congratulations 🎉🎉👏👏☺️
Wait, how many greenhouses have office chairs? I think that bar in the last diagram is miscolored.
Brilliant advice, will set up a new work space immediately in rural Ohio, I know just the place. Fresh tomatoes every day as a fringe benefit.
We might end up fighting more than one kind of “bug” though, and the sprinklers turning on might be a bit disruptive. We’ll have to invest in some IP rated hardware.
It would be nice if we could fix work culture just by a change of scenery. Companies that ask hard questions like “do people enjoy working here” and “is this job fair” (plus the old golden rule) can make more out of less.
What makes me happy at work is having the instant gratification of seeing my work change as soon as it’s published. Especially for anything linked to a data source, it’s very satisfying being able to look at your graphs change throughout the day after you’ve designed and made your api integrations.
Where is the bed, sleep and food effect>? Every developer eats( drinks coffee or tea) most often when coding and sleeps, wakes up code, eat and repeat
That the chance to be productive is highly rated is no surprise to me. I wonder what the response would have been to “freedom to make technical decisions without management interference” or “identification with project strategies and direction” These are partly a productivity issue but have huge potential for creating maximum frustration or elation as the case may be. I’ve worked on teams on both sides of this fence and it was *the* aspect influencing my personal satisfaction.
Reminds me of a greenhouse cafe a friend introduced me to. Not open year round though. I smell business opportunity, and soil. 🙂
Also no NDA, freedom talk with any personabout projects, open source code.
Wow, 350 developers across the globe (according to the report from Evans Data Corporation, there are 26.9 million). I like “global” statistic with so few participants and general statements 😉.
“The only statistics you can trust are those you falsified yourself” Winston Churchill (1874 – 1965).
For “Which regions and countries have the happiest developers in the world?” the number of participants per country would be interesting
“Feeling productive at work plays a much more critical role in team happiness than we probably realize. It shouldn’t be as surprising as it is,”
That’s probably why I feel completely disengaged after the 3rd comms platform replacement
350 developers across the world, isn’t that a very little sample size?
Thanks for that article!
I’m not happy at my workplace and whenever I addressed problems from the list above I was told that this is normal and it is worse elsewhere. I just should get used to it.
This made me questioning my choice of profession. I’ve done non-brainer work in the past, I can easily do this in a not optimal workspace. But for programming I need a better environment. If I can’t get this, I should maybe better go back to non-brainer work.
Our management makes me feel like my need for a good place to work is a special need and a problem I have to get rid of. This article showed me I am not alone with this. Others want to work efficient, too.