Devlane Blog

Work-Life Balance: The Solution to High Turnover of Software Engineers?

57% of workers consider poor work-life balance a dealbreaker when looking for a new job. Can this give us essential insights into retaining valuable talent? Let's discover what can be done to maintain that balance in the software industry.

Isabel Ballen & Matías Acuña
July 9, 2024

Work-life balance ensures that individuals have enough time and energy for both their professional responsibilities and personal life. For remote software engineers, maintaining this balance can be more challenging due to the lack of physical separation between work and home. It's crucial for companies to recognize this challenge and implement strategies to help their employees manage it effectively.

When it comes to attracting and retaining valuable tech talent, being able to guarantee that balance becomes a strategic goal. According to a study by Zippia (2023), 72% of workers believe work-life balance is a very important factor when choosing a job, and 57% of job-seekers say a poor work-life balance is a dealbreaker when they’re considering a new job.

This becomes even more relevant when we consider its influence on workplace well-being. 86% of software engineers work fully remotely, according to a Turing survey (2024); additionally, the Global Work-Life Survey (Remote, 2023) revealed that remote workers are happier than office workers. On a scale of 1 to 10, 42% rated their level of happiness at least an 8, in contrast to only 21% of those who work in-person. This close relationship between remote work and higher well-being conditions gives the software industry a significant advantage over other sectors. In a context where major tech companies are considering returning to in-person work or at least a hybrid model, this is a significant point to analyze.

However, remote work does not guarantee work-life balance: many of us who work remotely have felt at some point that our work interfered with our free time. For example, a study by Buffer in 2023 found that 22% of remote workers struggle with unplugging after work, underscoring the need for clear boundaries and support. An imbalance between work hours and free time can affect not only their sense of well-being but also their physical and mental health. Beyond extrinsic motivation (financial compensation for their work, rewards, positive feedback, career advancement), project overload on few people, suffocating deadlines, or very high demands can lead to burnout. At that point, the worker's intrinsic motivation is at risk: the pleasure of doing their tasks, the passion for that field of knowledge, their interests, dreams, and the sense of internal reward upon completing tasks. Many of these aspects are reinforced by good use of free time, hence the importance of maintaining their availability of mental and physical energy.

Returning to burnout caused by interference in work-life balance, the study "Striking a Balance between Work and Play: The Effects of Work–Life Interference and Burnout on Faculty Turnover Intentions and Career Satisfaction" (Boamah, Hamadi, Havaei, et al., 2022) directly relates it to the intention to change companies, as clearly illustrated by this chart:

Balancing the Scale

Recapping: taking care of work-life balance impacts work environment, well-being and health, as well as talent retention and your business results. So, what initiatives can be implemented in this regard? These are just a few of the many points we consider at Devlane to ensure work-life balance, which contributes to the average tenure of a software engineer at our company being 1 year and 9 months. In fact, 72% of the engineers who started at Devlane’s founding are still working with us.

  1. Encourage engineers to set and stick to regular work hours, while being flexible. This helps create a routine and ensures they have time to unwind and engage in personal activities. Managers should respect these hours and avoid contacting employees outside of them unless absolutely necessary. Flexibility is a key benefit of remote work. Allow engineers to set their schedules within reason and accommodate different time zones or personal commitments. This flexibility can lead to higher productivity and job satisfaction.
  2. Talk to your team about this topic directly. Let them know it is important to you as a company and as a leader. Create a culture where taking time off is encouraged and not frowned upon. Regularly remind employees of the importance of vacations and personal days. This can be reinforced by leadership taking time off themselves and sharing their experiences.
  3. Help engineers manage their workload by setting realistic expectations and goals. Avoid overloading them with tasks and ensure that deadlines are reasonable. This prevents stress and burnout.
  4. Create dialogue spaces. Whether one-on-one meetings or group meetings, it is important to create places for honest and direct conversations about the level of well-being and adaptation to the project's demands.
  5. Regularly update the perks and benefits you offer. This boosts morale, mood, and collaboration in remote teams. Dedicate time and resources to discovering what your workers need, what would make their day-to-day easier, and ensure they receive rewards and support after meeting important objectives.
  6. As mentioned earlier: it's not all about salary. Take care of their extrinsic motivation, but also their intrinsic motivation by giving them projects that excite them, the opportunity to research topics of interest, and creative activities that relieve the feeling of monotony.

Thinking about scaling your software development team? We find, promote, and retain top talent to ensure your long-term growth. Schedule time to talk with our tech talent experts here.