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Prevent Developer Burnout: How-to Guide on Best Practices & Tools

March 29, 2023


min read

Valentine Steph

Prevent Developer Burnout: How-to Guide on Best Practices & Tools

Managing a team is not just about deadlines and KPIs. One of the key functions of an effective engineering manager is making sure their employees feel comfortable and satisfied. In this article, you will find a full list of effective practices to prevent developer burnout and how to implement them into your tech company.

Managing a team is not just about deadlines and KPIs. One of the key functions of an effective engineering manager is making sure their employees feel comfortable and preventing developer burnout.

And there is a reason why. According to the study, the level of developer happiness influences the productivity and quality of code. Degraded performance isn't the only effect of poor physical and mental health. The work environment may deteriorate as a result, leading to increased negativity, skepticism, and even depression. Motivation drops and employees start to do the least amount of work required to meet the deadlines.

To avoid developer burnout, check our how-to guide on best practices and tools to increase your team’s engagement and level of happiness. In this article, you will also find ready-to-use solutions to save your time.

Developer burnout

Is being a software engineer stressful? Yes! Probably most developers experience some level of programming burnout in their careers. After all, how many hours does a software developer work? Definitely way too many, with probably way too many sleepless nights, too. Burnout is among the worst things that can happen in a developer's career, and it concerns the team members of all levels at some point.

How does it happen? Many times, extreme software engineer stress and a feeling of overwhelm is the culprit. And that overwhelm can be due to tight deadlines, unreasonable workloads, or maybe a sense that nothing will ever be “good enough” for management. Relatively new employees are especially vulnerable, and they end up incredibly anxious and fearful of losing their job.

Even top employees aren’t immune. Sure, they’ve climbed up the ranks, but at a huge toll physically with chronic exhaustion and mentally with frequent frustration. It’s easy to feel overworked and reach a breaking point, especially when their output doesn’t perfectly align with management's expectations. With burnout, these employees will inevitably feel tempted to quit and leave the company.

What does burnout look like? Here are some burnout symptoms:

Signs of burnout
Signs of developer burnout

If you notice that a team member always seems sleepy, or if they barely eat during lunch, or if they just seem like they don’t want to be at work, it could be that they’re feeling burned out!

But don’t dismay. Fortunately, there are many effective ways to prevent burnout!

To find out more about the early signs of developer burnout - read Developer Burnout Can Be a Serious Issue. Here Is How to Spot It.

Avoid burnout

Developer burnout is debilitating and can take away an engineer’s love for their craft. In this part, you’ll find best practices and tools engineering managers can use to prevent it.

Regular one-on-one meetings

One-on-one meetings provide a chance to establish better relationships between subordinates and supervisors. These weekly, bi-weekly, and/or monthly interactions allow for discussion of professional growth, productivity, and the employee’s overall impact on the organization. Personal meetings are also helpful in building trustful relationships in the team and catch the early signs of developer burnout.

During a one-on-one meeting, a manager can notice and solve the issues a developer may experience like monotonous work, rushing for deadlines, unmanageable workload, isolation on remote work, lack of professional feedback, etc.

You can increase the effectiveness of your regular one-on-one meetings and serve preparation time with the ready-to-use templates — no need to do everything from scratch over and over.

Ready-to-use 1:1 meeting templates by Ace

Growth Plan

A sense of professional stagnation can be a real downer for developers. Fortunately, a well-thought-out growth plan can help fix that. Not only can it provide employees with opportunities and direction for increasing their skills, prevent programmer burnout, but it can also shed light on how to manage a team.

There are many ways to create a growth plan manually. Here are major steps to start:

  1. Consider the goals of the company and find out employees' expectations regarding their plans in the company.
  2. Hold a 360-degree review of your team to find out possible skill gaps.
  3. Define areas of growth for every team member.
  4. Create development plans which will include learning activities and working tasks to develop focus skills.
  5. Hold regular 1-on-1 meetings with each employee to track the progress.

There’s also an easier way. Check ready-to-use Growth Plans by Ace to empower your engineers to develop their skills.

Growth plan to prevent burnout
Ace’s growth plan

Career Paths

A career path is a series of benchmarks that map an employee's route from a lower-level position through successive occupations to arrive at their ultimate goal.

The best way to boost employee engagement is by investing in your employees' careers. A career path gives them a sense of progress, which will help them feel more supported and which will bolster their commitment to their work.

How to create a career path for your engineering team?

  1. Update organizational chart
  2. Define job positions
  3. Create career paths for every role
  4. Highlight steps along the career path
  5. Define skills required for each level to show team members what skills they need to get a promotion
  6. Identify and implement training
  7. Review skills to promote and appreciate good work

Good news: there is no need to spend your time creating career paths manually. Ace has already made an excellent tool for your engineering team. You can check it by clicking on the pic below...

Career path to prevent burnout
Ace’s career path


The practice of writing reviews is not new. It helps highlight the strengths and weaknesses, as well as define skill gaps of the team. This feedback is critical, and it can prevent any of the following reasons why your devs can get frustrated at work:

  • Lack of skills
  • Lack of knowledge
  • Lack of communication

How to implement reviews into your team’s work?

Read our guide on how to organize a good review for your team - Software Engineer Performance Review Example.

OKR (Objectives and key results)

The simple but powerful OKR system is a means of achieving all your company's goals and objectives. The teams can use team-level objectives to work together efficiently while individual objectives motivate each member on the team to go beyond their previous expectations.

Here’s how you can implement OKRs to avoid programming burnout:

  1. Set a vision to help your team understand where the company is moving, as well as the personal contribution of each member to the common goal.
  2. Focus on a max of three of the most important objectives for a team and three key results, learn to prioritize.
  3. Build a culture of transparency and responsibility inside your company.
  4. Be patient since every team needs 2-3 cycles before OKR starts working.
  5. Communicate more. Set regular 1:1s, give people constructive feedback, and keep them included and feeling appreciated.

Check easy-to-understand, no-fuss OKR plan templates that will tremendously boost the efficiency of your work and your team's work.

OKR to prevent burnout
Ace’s OKR

Team Activities: Sports and social events

Sometimes, the best way to recharge is by hanging out with colleagues whose company you enjoy.

For example, it might be nice to spend two hours every week in conversations with positive workmates simply to unwind and relax. This is great for morale and can certainly prevent burnout!

This is why sports and social activities with your colleagues are necessary. Here are some ways how you can spend some quality time together:

  • Offer your team to go in for sports together like running a marathon or taking morning yoga classes
  • Celebrate small victories with your team
  • Highlight birthdays
  • Organize a strategic retreat for a few days
  • Build special traditions
  • Organize fun and small competitions with lovely prizes

Sure, you can make up more activities or ask your colleagues what they would like to try.

Key ideas

  • In a nutshell, developer burnout is caused by many factors including too much stress, overload, unclear goals and requirements, isolation, poor work-life balance.
  • What can you do to prevent this from happening? It's simple — start taking care of your team members.
  • There are effective tools that help you to boost employee engagement by increasing their happiness level. Choose the tools that suit your team the most and use ready solutions to save your time.


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