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  • Writer's pictureVivien Újvárosi

Creating a Positive Work Environment for Developers

The concept of a positive work environment gained significant attention, especially now, after the pandemic, as organizations seek to optimize employee well-being, boost productivity and foster positive emotions. However, the definition of a positive work environment varies widely among individuals and industries, and the realm of developers is no exception. This means there is neither a general nor particular answer to this problem. |



At Crafting Software, we have a team of skilled developers in Javascript, Erlang, and Elixir, and we can say that fostering a positive work environment goes beyond just meeting project goals. It's about understanding their unique needs and passions to create a fulfilling and engaging workplace.

It might be about open communication, good work-life balance, honest relationships, or all those mentioned - and it would be right. Even if you think you have all the aspects mentioned earlier and your business is successful and well-connected, there is room for improvement.


// But how can we create a positive work environment that would be suitable for the majority of the developers?


Crafting a positive environment requires evaluation of every characteristic within your company and identifying methods to strengthen employee engagement with the organization's values and objectives. Moreover, drawing insights from Seligman’s positive psychology (the father of this approach), the PERMA model can be beneficial. Studies in this domain reveal significant positive associations between each PERMA component and factors like job satisfaction, organizational commitment, overall life contentment, and physical health. While the PERMA model is primarily used in personal development, its principles can be adapted to create positive work environments too.


// Let’s see how!


As we know, a person’s actions and attitudes control one’s degree of happiness, which means creating a positive workplace indicates controlling our attitudes and choices. To achieve this, we can follow the five elements of the PERMA model:


  1. Positive emotion

  2. Engagement

  3. Relationships

  4. Meaning

  5. Accomplishments


// Let's personalize the elements of the PERMA model to cater to developers:


Positive emotions are much more than mere happiness. They can be defined as a feeling of joy, satisfaction, pride, and gratitude. As you know, positive emotions can stem from both internal factors, like personal achievements, and external factors, such as receiving a kind word from a colleague.


But how can this contribute to our developers' well-being? Well, you can stimulate positive emotions by simply expressing appreciation. Acknowledge and celebrate individual and team achievements related to projects, and provide constructive feedback and recognition for not only clean and efficient code writing, but good performance all in all.


I highly recommend encouraging a culture of gratitude, where developers appreciate each other's contributions, in this way you facilitate the appearance of positive emotions.


Engagement can be seen as Csikszentmihalyi’s concept of “flow”, which refers to the loss of self-consciousness and complete absorption in an activity. This state emerges from a blend of one's skills and the challenges at hand. Allow developers to work on projects that align with their interests and values, emphasizing in this way their potential and growth.


Also, in order to be more engaged, you have to encourage autonomy and creative freedom in solving technical challenges.


Relationships are the key to a healthy life. Within this model, relationships refer to feeling valued, supported, and connected to others. Is this achievable at your workplace? Absolutely! Even in the current remote work trend, you can encourage your employees to socialize and bond with their colleagues by organizing team-building events, parties, or casual gatherings where they can engage in chit-chats. Encourage communication and open dialogue among team members to foster a sense of belonging and inclusion.


Facilitate knowledge-sharing sessions and peer mentoring among developers, by organizing private or even publicly open meetups on different topics. A habit we developed in the past few years is the periodically organized meetups hosted by our team on topics like functional programming (you can check out some of our registered sessions here: https://craftingsoftware). By creating such events, you can increase the opportunities for meaningful and productive relationships.


Meaning is an innate aspect of human nature, and we all need meaning in our lives in order to have a sense of well-being. In the IT field, meaning also encompasses the feeling of value and worth derived from developers' efforts, as they positively impact others, including customers.

Highlight the impact of diverse projects on customers or end-users, to emphasize the meaningfulness of their work that can improve lives and industries. Involve developers in projects that align with their personal values and principles.

For example, you can work on projects that support social needs, and applications that can be used by professionals to ease their job or to promote welfare, like our own application based on Elixir: Octoplay (check it out: octoplay.io).


To instill meaning in your developers, consider engaging in community service activities that resonate with their values. Encourage involvement in volunteering, life-saving endeavors, or environmental causes (like blood donation or tree planting). These meaningful actions can contribute to a sense of purpose and fulfillment among your team.


Achievements or accomplishments require a developer to have certain goals regarding the project he/she is working on and work toward achieving them.

As we know, the key to productivity is setting goals. Having clear objectives stimulate engagement, motivation, and a sense of purpose. The achievement of these goals plays an important role in the development of self-worth, confidence, and strengthening self-esteem, all of which carry a positive impact.


How to build accomplishment?

Set clear and challenging goals for projects, ensuring they are aligned with the company's mission and vision. Encourage your developers to always reflect on past successes and set upcoming objectives following the SMART model, and have goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. In this way, all the processes they have to follow will be easier, more engaging, and more precise.


Encourage continuous learning and skill development to enable developers to accomplish their career objectives.


Last but not least, celebrate milestones and successful project completions to acknowledge developers' achievements. It is a good way to improve their intrinsic motivation as well.


>>> Summary


In conclusion, implementing the strategies outlined above can significantly enhance well-being and productivity in the workplace. By demonstrating genuine appreciation for your developers' contributions, aligning their preferences with the technologies they work with, fostering team activities and meaningful projects, and supporting SMART goal-setting, a positive work environment can be cultivated. By prioritizing these elements, you not only empower your developers but also create a workplace where they feel valued, engaged, and motivated to excel.


Ultimately, a positive work environment leads to happier and more fulfilled developers, resulting in greater innovation, collaboration, and overall success for your organization.


P.S. Before initiating any organizational changes, I advise considering the PERMAH Wellbeing Survey. Make sure to distribute it to your developers and encourage them to complete it. This survey will provide valuable insights into the well-being and satisfaction of your team, guiding you in creating a positive and fulfilling work environment for everyone involved.



References


Csikszentmihalyi, M., & LeFevre, J. (1989) Optimal experience in work and leisure. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 56(5), 815–822.

Kern, M. L., Waters, L., Adler, A., & White, M. (2014). Assessing employee wellbeing in schools using a multifaceted approach: Associations with physical health, life satisfaction, and professional thriving. Psychology, 5(6), 500–513.


Seligman, M. E. (2012). Flourish: A visionary new understanding of happiness and well-being. Atria Paperback.

Slavin, Stuart J. MD, MEd; Schindler, Debra PhD; Chibnall, John T. PhD; Fendell, Ginny MSW; Shoss, Mindy PhD. PERMA: A Model for Institutional Leadership and Culture Change. Academic Medicine 87(11):p 1481, November 2012.



// Vivien Újvárosi // AUGUST 4 2023


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