In the past year of covid related working from home, we are increasingly seeing more burnouts in engineering teams worldwide. More and more devs are partially checked out and may not be putting their 100% in team activities (planning, grooming, code review, quality checks). In these testing times, we have found some of the ways to keep your team motivated.

Take a company-wide week off

Companies have found success in taking a week off company-wide and encouraging 2-3 weeks of vacation this summer to give people a reset.

No-meeting weeks

Doing no-meeting weeks once a quarter can help people focus.

Special projects

Asking what motivates folks and what they enjoy working on and then trying to find projects that work to those interests can be helpful in improving motivation. Obviously, this is a bit more hands-on but it can pay off in spades.

Roundtable discussions

If you are seeing folks feeling isolated and alone and not seeing their team members much, especially if you have a globally distributed team and lean into async a lot with very few meetings, you can do a Roundtable meeting for engineers and come prepared with topics to discuss. It can totally optional but folks can really enjoy those meetings. The key is to give them some structure. Coming into a Zoom call with nothing is always a little awkward and stressful for folks. When you have someone coming prepared with prompts and making sure the discussion keeps going it helps engagement a lot.

Offline days/”Digital Detox” Days

Besides other initiatives, each employee can have an offline day per week (each person chooses the day) - consistency instead of intensity - where the person does whatever they want, not expected to reply to any sync tool messages, no questions asked on what they’re doing, and can do no work, if they feel they need to rest. Companies having offline days are seeing not just fewer signs of burnout, but also seeing people working on their L&D and also having the mental bandwidth to come up with new creative ideas for our product

Senior leadership needs to be seen to be visible in saying “It’s okay not to reply to Slack/email” and “it’s okay to finish early if you need to”. More, they need to do this themselves so the behavior is seen. It’s tough, though.

16 May 2021