Motivation in Software Developers

What Causes a Lack of Motivation in Software Developers and How to Prevent It


Why do developers become demotivated? We have asked Svitla Project and HR Managers to weigh in, and they associate this issue with an increasingly popular job-hopping trend caused by a lack of challenging or fulfilling projects.

When developers lack a loyalty to their current project, the outcome can be disastrous for the business’s bottom line. The truth is, losing engineering talent is extremely costly. Employee Benefit News (EBN) has revealed that replacing an employee may cost up to 33% of their annual salary and that 75% of cases of employee turnover can be predicted. Companies must prioritize employee retention so as to increase profitability and reduce inefficiencies caused by employee turnover.

While mapping out the strategy of how to motivate development teams, employers need to consider ways to keep talented employees engaged. Below we will explore certain ways to go about boosting the motivation in your development teams. motivation infographics

Motivation and Hygiene Factors Affecting Engagement

Frederick Herzberg, an American psychologist, alleged that dissatisfaction is not the opposite of satisfaction, but that they each have two totally different causes and solutions. His Two-Factor Theory sought to distinguish hygiene factors and motivation as the major components behind employee satisfaction.

Hygiene factors are comprised of salaries, job security, company policies, relationships with peers and top management, work conditions, status, and more. They will not help overcome lost motivation at work, but when absent they cause dissatisfaction.

Among the motivational factors that have a direct impact on employee satisfaction, these are most valuable:

  • Achievements
  • Recognition
  • Meaningful work
  • Shared responsibilities
  • Career advancement
  • Business impact

To prevent demotivation, consider altering hygiene factors first and then proceed to motivators.

Scrum methodology has gained such popularity because among other reasons, it addresses most of these motivational factors. For instance, it aids in establishing tight bonds with everyone on a team and allows team members to take ownership in the project by taking part in project planning, setting goals for professional growth, and creating a work breakdown structure.

Common Causes of Demotivation in the Workplace

Furthermore, Team Leaders’ words and attitudes have as much impact on employee motivation as the policies established within a company. When an employee lacks motivation in the workplace, it often implies that a leader has failed to encourage and/or push the team. 

Poor Management
Inexperienced or shoddy management remains one of the widespread reasons for demotivation at work. Poor management involves not only inadequate project planning and task distribution, but also deficient employee motivation. A Team Leader should consider himself to be part of the company ecosystem responsible for employee encouragement and recognition. In fact, as much as 20% of a Team Lead’s time should be spent on employee recognition, encouragement, discussions of improvements, and other methods of keeping a strong morale. Also, communicating directly with the client can increase an employee’s engagement as it reminds them of their purpose on the project of delivering a product that will eventually satisfy the client’s demands. 

Excessive workload
An excessive workload can induce workplace stress and usually leads to multitasking. Studies show that taking up one task while in the middle of another can increase the overall time an employee needs to complete each by 25%. More time spent working and less leisure time to refit can and will exhaust even the most gifted developers. Being overwhelmed with tasks, employees will tend to seek other opportunities where their talents will be utilized more efficiently and where a smarter task-tracking approach is taken.

The Whys Behind Unmotivated Development Teams

The first ‘why’ behind unmotivated software development teams is ‘wrong people in the wrong places.’

Everything starts with people and their roles on a project, and there should be a balance of experience and inexperience on the team. If this is not achieved, the project will suffer, and the team will need more time to maintain a productive development pace and set clear objectives. The longer this process takes, the higher the risk of demotivation in the workplace.

Another concern involves the ‘everyone is responsible for everything’ approach. In this situation, there is no specific ownership of tasks, so the project lacks direction. Ideally, however, each team player should bear responsibility for and offer advice on their assigned scope of work, with the Team Lead having the final word. This way, the project progresses, thanks to the team as a whole. Taking part in decision-making allows developers to feel more accountable, engaged, and fulfilled with their workload. 

A lack of self-development is another aspect which can cause developers to lose their enthusiasm for a project. In many cases, developers get stuck working similar projects consecutively which can be neither challenging or interesting. To avoid this scenario, allow developers to work with up-to-date tools and hardware or contribute to some open source libraries or frameworks while on the project. Taking part in hackathons or other tech events may also help regain team motivation.

Taking little care of codebase is another threat to developer morale. Taking into consideration Developer Experience, it’s essential to source control, especially as codebases get heavier with time. In the end, this will simplify the developers’ work by reducing the time needed to fix bugs or compile the code. 

Failure to arrange the dev team work efficiently also leads to disengagement. Knowing how to encourage your team members means:

  • using source control for faster compilation of new builds
  • creating a bug database for better code delivery
  • compiling specs for consistency in design and timely software shipping

How to Prevent Developers Demotivation

This brings us to our conclusion. The best ways to motivate software developers to involve the following practices:

  • Covering hygiene factors before addressing motivators.
  • Constantly reviewing and supervising the motivation process by top managers.
  • Giving software development teams enough freedom to write code and use innovative technologies for better and faster code deployment.
  • Giving engineers an opportunity to work flexitime and grow professionally.
  • Involving each team player in decision-making and giving them a chance to work with big talent.
  • Allowing dev teams to communicate directly with clients to share their ideas on how to improve the project.

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by Svitla Team

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