Burnout is not new although we have seen a spike in cases in recent years. Let’s face it, workaholic tendencies existed long before the pandemic and the global shift to remote work. But what about tech burnout? Consider this.
Devin, a DevOps engineer known for productivity and creativity, is now overwhelmed with demands at work. Constantly glued to his MacBook, working late into the night, his passion for exciting projects is gone. He’s become tired, depressed and has constant nightmares about getting fired. Devin wants his life back and to enjoy his job again.
Sound familiar? The story may be fictional, but this is the narrative of many employees in tech. In 2018, a survey by Blind reported that 58% of tech professionals experience burnout. Another study found that burnout accounts for as much as 38% of tech worker attrition. Most recently, techies are looking for what they perceive to be “low-stress” jobs in protest of the grind although such jobs are far and few between in tech. Tech jobs and burnout seem to go hand-in-hand sadly. It seems to be a case of managing your stress than preventing it.
In this article, we will look at the causes of tech burnout, the signs and symptoms of this issue, and offer practical guidance to safeguard the well-being of your teams. Read on to discover the effective strategies we are using at Insighture to tackle this issue.
Understanding Tech Burnout
Before we delve into how Insighture is tackling tech burnout, let’s first understand what it is. Tech burnout, also known as digital burnout, is a state of chronic physical and emotional exhaustion caused by excessive or prolonged use of technology, particularly in the workplace.
Tech burnout is a bit tricky to spot. Yerbo’s State of Burnout in Tech 2022 puts it well. According to this report there are 4 ghosts of tech burnout:
Exhaustion: Devin’s energy stores are completely depleted and so is his creativity. He’s likely to develop all sorts of stress-related illnesses.
Self-Inefficacy: He feels like he’s not up to the tasks assigned to him at all. He has an extreme case of Imposter Syndrome.
Cynicism: He does not care about quality. Neat work and getting tasks completed on time and to spec aren’t really pressing concerns.
Depersonalization: Devin emotionally shuts down in order to stay afloat workwise. He’s drowning. His colleagues find him cold and detached.
Tech burnout is a significant concern in the tech industry, where employees are constantly bombarded with new challenges, tight deadlines, and the pressure to stay up to date with rapidly evolving technologies.
A few other reasons as to why burnout is such a problem in tech:
- Unfair treatment
- Lack of rewards
- Lack of autonomy
Our Approach to Employee Wellbeing
Insighture is taking proactive steps to address these issues and create a more balanced and sustainable work environment.
Flexible Work Arrangements
One of the key ways Insighture combats tech burnout is by offering flexible work arrangements. Recognizing that work-life balance is crucial for employee well-being, the company allows its employees to choose between remote and in-office work, providing the freedom to adapt their work environment to their individual needs and preferences.
This flexibility not only reduces the stress associated with commuting but also allows employees to better manage their time and energy. They can structure their workdays in a way that minimizes distractions and maximizes productivity, helping to reduce the risk of burnout.
We are now refining things further for our people by considering the work-life integration concept that acknowledges the interconnectedness of work and personal life.
Take the example of Devin. Instead of a rigid 9–5 workday, it might be more practical for him to get in some solid coding work in the early morning hours and clock out earlier for football practice. At Insighture, we don’t just punch time clocks. We are deeply outcome-oriented and we feel this is the best strategy both for our people and our bottom line.
Mental Health Support
We place a strong emphasis on mental health support, understanding that the pressure and demands of the tech industry can take a toll on employees’ well-being.
The company offers access to counselling services, mental health resources, and encourages open conversations about mental health within the workplace. On top of that we’re working towards psychological first aid certification and implementing buddy systems to share stress at the office.
By providing employees with the tools and resources to address their mental health needs, we want to reduce the stigma surrounding mental health issues and ensure that employees feel supported and valued.
Friendly and Open Culture
At Insighture, our workplace culture thrives on being friendly and open. It’s part of the reason why we refer to our teams as a community instead of a family. After all, family doesn’t fire people. We believe it is our responsibility to stay honest and transparent with the people who work for us.
Inadvertently, our employees feel comfortable expressing their concerns, ideas, or feedback. In fact, they are actively encouraged to do so. We’ve seen the power of this culture in fostering trust among our teams, significantly reducing stress levels, and promoting collaboration.
Addressing concerns is a top priority for us. Through various feedback mechanisms, regular check-ins, and dedicated forums, we ensure that every employee’s voice is heard.
This responsiveness to employee concerns plays a pivotal role in creating a positive, less stressful work environment where individuals are empowered to excel. Our incredible People and Culture team ensures privacy and confidentiality in having certain sensitive conversations and assisting employees in removing those pesky roadblocks that affect the workflow. We are also focused on implementing more gender-friendly policies because research shows that burnout hits women a bit harder.
Training and Skill Development
At Insighture, we are fuelled by a passion for leadership and we take ownership of every aspect of what we do. This is what makes a member of our community. In alignment with this sentiment, there are no C-type designations in our organisation, only leads. We consider all of our employees leaders and nurture leadership at every level. This is another way we combat tech burnout. We invest in the professional development and growth of employees.
Employees have access to a variety of training programs and opportunities for skill development, allowing them to stay current with industry trends and technologies without feeling overwhelmed.
We have implemented mentorship and coaching programs where experienced employees can guide and support those who are seeking to grow. This promotes knowledge sharing and provides guidance on navigating challenges. E.g., Geek Sessions, Tech Talks, Project Updates etc.
This approach not only helps employees stay engaged and motivated in their roles but also fosters a sense of personal and professional growth, reducing the risk of burnout. When employees feel that they are continually learning and growing, they are more likely to remain enthusiastic about their work.
We understand the importance of workload management in preventing burnout. That is why our managers and team leads regularly assess and adjust workloads to ensure that employees are not overwhelmed with tasks and deadlines. This proactive approach helps distribute the workload more evenly and prevents employees from feeling overburdened.
Adherence to a Scrumban agile model supports our people-first approach to promote a culture of collaboration, teamwork and also flexibility. Employees can seek assistance and support from their colleagues when needed. This not only eases the workload but also fosters a sense of closeness and mutual support among team members.
Wellness Programs and Activities
To further promote employee well-being, Insighture has a special culture club. Our involvement in community projects, charity drives, and environmental sustainability efforts lets our people know that we understand the wider impact we can have. In the meantime, CSR activities give our people a meaningful break from their tech-focused roles and create a sense of purpose that is often the missing piece of the puzzle for most of the passionate individuals in our community.
Health is a high priority too, and sports is a great way to keep our health up due to the obvious benefits and the opportunity to connect. Sports is a big part of the Insighture experience. The Insighture Premier League organised by our highly active Insighture sports club is one of the many sports initiatives we’ve spearheaded. Our people have also engaged in fitness challenges, hiking adventures and more. These activities encourage us to take regular breaks and engage in activities that promote physical and mental health.
The management also caringly offers flexible time-off policies that take care of our people, especially considering the pressing needs of working parents trying to balance it all, medical emergencies and bereavement leave.
We hope we were able to inspire you to better tackle burnout within your own teams in this fast-moving industry.
Our strategies have resulted in happier, more engaged, high-performing teams that are able to innovate and reach for the stars. In the end, we want to create a more sustainable future for tech in Sri Lanka, Melbourne and the world. Will you join us in accomplishing this?