What Drives Developer Happiness at Work?

What Drives Developer Happiness at Work?

Are software developers happy in their current jobs? And should we care?

The answer is “yes.”

With the tech unemployment rate currently at 2%, technologists know their skills are in demand.

But are technologists actually happy in their current positions? Is unhappiness driving them to look for new jobs, or is it more a question of taking the opportunity to advance their careers and earn more money?

A study by Stack Overflow offers insight into those questions, at least when it comes to software developers. A survey of 350 respondents revealed the following:

  • 70.3% of developers said they are happy at work
  • 14.4% said they are unhappy
  • 15.3% claimed indifference

“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,” added the text accompanying Stack Overflow’s data. “This data mirrors what other companies, like Skillsoft, have found in recent surveys.”

What drives developer unhappiness? “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%),” the study continued. Lots of things can wreck that happy feeling, in other words.

As survey after survey has made clear, they’re also after more than money (although higher compensation is always great). Companies that can provide a solid work-life balance, a sense of mission, and opportunities for growth will often win technologists’ allegiance, even if they can’t offer quite as much in salary as other, larger organizations.

Meanwhile, technologists can use these elevated levels of demand to negotiate for a better salary or benefits, change specialties, or even convince an employer to pay for your training. Whether or not you’re happy in your current position, you can always explore potential opportunities.

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