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How To Make Your Developers Happy Without Even Trying

Happy developers are productive developers. Find out how to make this a reality.

Edward Batten

By Edward Batten

EVP of Growth Edward Batten grows BairesDev globally while supporting, managing, and developing the internal structures required for strategic growth.

10 min read

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Developers can be quirky. They dwell within 2 worlds—the creative world and the business world. Because of this, the usual methods of keeping those employees happy might not always work out so well. 

Thing is, keeping your developers happy can make a world of difference for your business. Why? Because those engineers are the ones responsible for creating the software your company either depends on for various delivery pipelines or sell as a product. Either way, your bottom line is both directly and indirectly affected.

To that end, it’s very much in your best interests to keep those developers happy. But don’t think this is a situation where you’ll have to bend over backward to placate them. And whether those engineers are working with Java, JavaScript, .NET, are hired from an offshore software development firm, or if they are in-house staff, what you’re about to read should help appease developers across the board.

And so, without further ado, let’s make those developers happy.

Supply them with the best hardware you can afford

If you hand your developers underpowered, out-of-date, unimpressive laptops or desktops, it’ll go a long way to undermine their attitudes. Developers are like any geek in that they love good hardware. Give those engineers laptops, desktops, monitors, keyboards, trackpads, and mice worth bragging about and you’ll be surprised at how their happiness will enjoy a serious uptick.

Also, remember this: Your developers are going to be compiling code, a process that can require some pretty hefty hardware. When you skimp on machinery, you not only make their jobs harder, you send a message that they don’t really matter much. And when you’ve supplied your CEO (someone who’ll be using a web browser for nearly everything) with a top-of-the-line machine, those developers are going to take it personally. 

Given the difference between a really solid machine and a mid-spec device isn’t all that much (in the grand scheme of things), the ROI of this effort is pretty high.

Don’t interrupt them

One thing so many people don’t quite get is that interruptions cost creative types more time than you think. Consider this: You’re on a roll with code or documentation. The words and code are pouring out of you with ease. And then, middle management knocks on your door to stop that flow. They chat about whatever it is they wanted to mention and leave you to your task.

You try to go back to work but the flow has already been broken, and it takes some time to get back up to the speed you previously had. That middle manager might think the interruption was nothing more than 10 minutes when in reality it could be 30 or 60. 

Because of this, you want to interrupt your developers as little as possible. In fact, you could go so far as to block out times during the day where interruptions are simply not allowed (unless in the case of emergencies). During those times, developers could trust they could focus very deeply on their tasks and not be interrupted.

That’s a priceless change you can make that will cost you absolutely nothing in terms of budget and give you significant returns.

Flexible schedules

Some developers work very well under regular schedules. Most developers, however, know their job requires far more hours than the typical 9-5. But no one wants to sit down for 12 or 14 hours and write code. Instead, your developers might prefer to work in chunks of time throughout the day.

If that’s how your developers (or some of them) work most productively, allow it. This is the modern era and the old rules don’t always apply. And when you allow for such flexibility you show the software engineers you trust them to get the job done. That trust and flexibility will go a very long way to making your developers happy.

Protect them from burnout

Developers burn out. That’s a fact. For some, it’s almost inevitable. Why? Because developers have to log considerable hours to deliver on time. And when your company is in a constant state of delivery, you might wind up with developers who are always nudging dangerously close to burnout. 

For that, you need to keep a close watch on your engineers. After they’ve gone through a major coding sprint, make them take a break (a long weekend or a full-blown vacation). Those sprints can be exhausting, and developers will need time to recharge. Make sure they take it, otherwise you’ll wind up with a team burned out and incapable of producing.

Give your developers their autonomy

Here’s the thing: Developers know what they’re doing. They don’t need to be micromanaged or have managers breathing down their necks. You’ve given them deadlines and they know what has to be done to meet those deadlines.

If you’re constantly hovering over that team, they’re going to become dissatisfied and unhappy. To prevent that, you should always give your developers their autonomy. Allow your engineers to work on their own, without feeling like you have to attach them to a leash and monitor everything they do. 

That doesn’t, however, mean you should just allow every project to go unstructured. Find the perfect balance between developer autonomy and the necessary structure to keep a project managed, and you’ll find those developers content and productive.


You see, it doesn’t take all that much to keep your developers happy. You might have to spend a little extra money on them and relax your managerial style a bit but, in the end, you’ll find you can enjoy a happy group of developers without even trying.

Edward Batten

By Edward Batten

Responsible for the global growth of BairesDev, EVP of Growth Edward "E.B." Batten uses his leadership experience to engage clients, partnerships, and international opportunities for company growth. E.B. also helps develop and manage the organizational structures required to support these endeavors.

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