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Best Practices to Reduce DevOps Burnout

DevOps Burnout

As software development teams struggle with spotty, siloed software delivery cycles, the DevOps approach provides relief by unifying stakeholders to achieve faster, collaborative and continuous software delivery. However, the DevOps methodology fails if it does not address the issue of DevOps burnout.

In this post, we’ll uncover strategies that DevOps teams can use to better manage their work environment. It also addresses how DevOps can use intelligent tools, such as an incident alert management system, to facilitate team collaboration and streamline incident response workflows.

Leading Indicators of DevOps Burnout

According to a recent Survation report, “Eighty-three percent … of DevOps professionals are experiencing burnout, mostly due to the pandemic.” Further, the report states that 55 percent of survey respondents are experiencing moderate-to-severe levels of burnout in the workplace.

DevOps leaders must pay attention to their team’s mental health and determine how to resolve the challenge of DevOps burnout. To get started on resolving this challenge, DevOps leaders must detect three early signs of burnout:

1. Decreased employee happiness

Employees are often responsible for many challenging workplace tasks. As a result of this stress, team members may become too fatigued and unmotivated to perform their jobs effectively. Managers must be trained to spot these signs and work with employees to proactively overcome these issues.

2. Decreased productivity

The performance of DevOps teams is measured on a scale of deployment frequency and lead time for changes. Elite or high-performing employees can deliver software at an accelerated pace. If the productivity of these star employees slows down, managers must begin looking for systemic issues that contribute to an unconducive work environment.

3. Taking too much time off 

If employees constantly take time off for mental health, managers must address the root cause of these issues. If an issue is systemic and internal, DevOps leaders must collaborate with their employees to resolve them.

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Why Does DevOps Disproportionately Grapple With Burnout?

DevOps attracts a population of talented industry professionals that go the extra mile to deliver perfect solutions for customer challenges. However, the fast-paced, stressful nature of DevOps often demotivates these industry professionals and leads to critical workplace burnout.

Many DevOps professionals experience impostor syndrome at work. Their job requires constant learning and upskilling, giving rise to the fear of “not being good enough” for the workplace.

Best Practices to Reduce DevOps Burnout

  1. Employees should set boundaries for themselves: By practicing better pacing, employees know when to say “no” to new work responsibilities.
  2. Fibonacci storytelling: Points are assigned to a task based on the amount of time the whole team thinks the task will take. When the team has taken on projects whose total point value is equal to the team’s maximum velocity, they stop taking on more items.
  3. Mentoring: Make it easier for engineers to ask questions and have an adequate support structure. This type of program will help mitigate the feeling of “impostor syndrome.”
  4. Pairing: Work in teams to manage challenging projects so engineers don’t feel the weight of an entire challenge on their shoulders.
  5. Make the unplanned predictable: Use OnPage’s digital scheduler to create a predictable on-call plan. Engineers know they will receive a loud, real-time mobile alert when a high-priority event has occurred.
  6. Brain dumping: At the end of the day, write down and organize tasks that need to be managed. Productivity is truly aided by coming to work with a fresh brain.
  7. Make management responsive: Managers must listen and respond to engineer issues. Managers need to show that they are willing to be accountable, and when engineers say they cannot handle more work, managers should listen.
  8. Nine-to-five workdays must be flexible: Teams need flexibility to change their way of working. If an engineer has worked for 12-to-13 hours to get a project done, they should be able to work more leisurely the following day or take time off from the workplace.
  9. Hire more: Teams need visibility into the work pipeline to see how much work is waiting for them. If teams continuously struggle to manage all responsibilities, it is time for managers to increase employee headcount to improve workplace productivity.
  10. Avoid email: Additional work should not come through email. Keep work structured and on tickets.
  11. Be disciplined about time: Establish an effective, healthy workday “wind-down” routine. Teams can use the last hour of the day for personal development or small projects. 

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Mitigate Burnout by Simplifying Incident Management

OnPage’s incident alert and on-call management system can be used to address burnout caused by alert fatigue and inequitable work distribution. Through OnPage, DevOps can better address incoming high-priority alerts. On-call engineers receive distinguishable, loud alerts on the OnPage mobile app and are mobilized within seconds to respond to high-priority notifications. OnPage eliminates the need to constantly monitor email inboxes for important alerts.

The OnPage mobile application provides two-way contextual messaging with secure file attachments. Contextual messaging provides a separate channel of communication that allows DevOps teams to have a more collaborative, well-informed response strategy.   

Conclusion

In the modern digital landscape, organizations face insurmountable pressure to accelerate software delivery and react to changing customer preferences. The DevOps methodology is designed for this rapid innovation. However, adopting the methodology without addressing the topic of DevOps burnout is a battle half won. DevOps teams need to adopt a cloud-based, critical alerting platform and establish best practices to overcome the challenge of engineer burnout. 

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