Burnout from work is proven to have a tangible impact on your physical health and happiness. Learn how to recognize burnout in yourself and your employees, and build a happy developer culture!
Burnout manifests itself in many ways, and while I am not an expert, the topic remains a subject that is near and dear to my heart. I have dealt with it and seen many employees stuck in the cyclical nature of burnout. So what’s the escape? You must recognize burnout in yourself, find ways to correct it, or lean on others who can support you through the process.
Anyone can be subject to burnout, no matter what field they are in. Developers tend to catch the burnout fever because many of them are problem solvers. SRE’s, operations, developers, and other engineers lean into all problems and take on additional projects or tasks, which leads to being overworked.
As a leader, I know that good work can’t get done if my employees constantly run with their cups empty. Here’s how I make sure they still have something left to pour.
Keep Your Teams Cup Full
This piece has two parts. The first is to build trust. Create a people-first mentality and build rapport within your team. Your team will feel comfortable coming to you when they hit their max. The second is to make sure you are allowing time for your teams to connect. Lean into a communication culture, including a place for people to be themselves, share their interests, and generally interact as people rather than employees. This is especially important with the rise of remote work. This can look like 10 minutes before meetings to discuss what your team has going on after work or discuss cooking, gardening, gaming, or other hobbies.
Disrupt the cycle
I can’t emphasize this enough. You want your employees to take time off because they want to, not because they need to. Pay attention to your employees so they are not alone. Some may not be able to recognize burnout at first and will need your support. You want to intervene earlier rather than later.
Invest in Modern Tools
Modern tools mean that you know what is going on with your platform. If you are responsible for uptime, observability is huge! Observability will help you ensure you understand what is going on. Automating your systems to be resilient will make the on-call and tirage experience much cleaner. Tools like Moogoft allow you to resolve incidents with confidence, get time back and innovate more.
Ok, so we covered your team, but what about YOU? Here are my favorite solutions to make sure you are your best self in the workplace;
Be Your Best Self
So your team is set up for success since you built a culture of trust & now you need to let go. Remember that work will get done. You may have different styles on how to get to the solution, but in the end, tasks will get completed. If it takes longer or if they fail and need help, it is OK. Put faith in those around you. You don’t need to be available on your PTO. Actually, take your time off! You don’t want to feel like you need a vacation from your vacation.
Protect work-life balance
Set explicit working hours and put them in your calendar. You may feel like work is never-ending, but It’s OK if you have a doctor’s appointment or need to pick up children from school. The more visible your calendar is, the more people will respect it. Think about getting a separate work device. If you are like me and can’t get off of Slack, this is magic! I turn my work phone off after hours, and if it is urgent enough, someone will call my personal device.
Dabble in journaling
Writing by hand can have similar benefits to meditation, and you have the opportunity to reflect on your writings in the future. Fill up that journal with anything and everything. Ask yourself questions. These questions will help you go deeper and often into reflective or more emotional territory. It can hold you accountable for your progress and track your growth. If journaling isn’t your jam, you can look into talking to a doctor. There are great and affordable tools out there like BetterHelp and Talkspace.
Stress and burnout from work have proven to have a tangible impact on your physical health and happiness. Look out for yourself and your team and pay attention to burnout symptoms like cynicism, irritability, and lack of job satisfaction (dread waking up and going to the “office”). If you can recognize burnout, you will have the ability to conquer it as well.
About the author
Thom Duran is a Director of SRE at Moogsoft, where he leads a team of SREs that are focused on building the platform for Moogsoft Observability Cloud, as well as spreading best practices to enable a DevOps culture. Focusing on stability and automation has been part of Thom’s life for the past decade. He got his start in the trenches of a traditional NOC. From there he moved into more traditional SRE roles focused on availability and monitoring at GoDaddy. At Moogsoft Thom’s goals are always about driving efficiency, making sure people love what they do, and that people have a place where they can excel.