While the past While some years have seen a major initiative to nurture employees, recent months have seen the pendulum swing in the other direction. The tech industry has been hit by layoffs and economic uncertainty — and that’s directly affecting the morale and well-being of existing employees, which in turn affects their productivity.
Digital health tools, better mental health treatment, and mental health days are great steps, but they don’t directly address some of the root causes of software engineer job dissatisfaction. To counter this productivity-saving trend, companies need to think more about developer experience (DX). DX appears to be significantly different from general worker safety.
Developer experience is more about how software developers feel about the work they do every day, and that directly affects the tools and processes they use. This means looking at your team’s workday experience, the resources they use, and the efficiency of their workflow. The benefit of optimizing those elements isn’t just happy developers—it translates directly into better business results.
Engineering leaders can do this by effectively tracking engineering satisfaction and performance to identify factors that are impacting your engineering team’s experience. They need to accept new, holistic metrics and learn how to respond to them. Here are steps any tech company can take to better understand and improve their developer experience.
Get to the source of problems at work
3 out of 4 software developers worldwide experience burnout in their lifetime, and engineering leaders everywhere should be asking themselves why. One of the problems is that we are making the lives of engineers more difficult than it needs to be. We have tools to better optimize the workflows and resources that software developers use every day—which improves their daily experience and helps reduce the risk of burnout. However, we may miss opportunities to make those improvements because we’re not tracking the right metrics of how our engineering teams are performing, or we’re not talking enough about their experiences.
Another problem is that we don’t allow software developers to engage in more fulfilling tasks. According to the 2019 State of DevOps report, software developers often spend only 30 to 40% of their time creating features, and most of that time is spent on delays and administrative work. Adjusting to these time-consuming and low-reward tasks leads to higher career growth and job satisfaction.
Tools that give engineering leaders visibility into this data are widely available and can greatly improve the developer experience. If we list them, each business can begin to identify their own root causes of developer dissatisfaction.
How to improve the developer experience: Give it SPACE.
There are two things engineering leaders should be looking at: getting an understanding of DX and how to use that information to find the best metrics to improve how software developers feel about their work.
More and more companies are turning to DORA metrics to measure software development performance.
These are important indicators, which basically measure efficiency and quality. However, they do not give the whole picture. In fact, the same team that created DORA’s four key metrics went one step further, and created the more comprehensive SPACE metrics system. These encompass all of the DORA measures, looking at the human or emotional aspect of software engineers’ work (or “satisfaction and well-being”).
Here is the list of SPACE: