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Programmer Happiness: It's the Little Things

02.08.2014
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Finding and keeping good programmers is a challenge for any business. Salary and promotion opportunities aside, sometimes it's the small things that add up. Although not the tipping point, they are part of the larger equation. Putting defection aside, happy programmers code faster and produce less bugs. What are those little things?

Proper Hardware
Notice the word "proper." Programming starts with the right computer. Companies do not need to break the bank. Decisions about CPU, RAM, hard drives, etc. are unique to each company. Choose wisely because adequate is one step away from problematic. Holding a quick yearly review helps avoid future lost time. Additionally holding honest, reasonable conversations about hardware is rewarding. Productivity is the key measurement, but don't forget to discuss:

  • Utilizing multiple monitors to increase efficiency. This affects video card purchases.
  • The proper keyboard and mouse. This may be unique to each programmer.
  • The use of a UPS to avoid power loss and spikes.

Productive Software
Outside of standard development suites, developers require other applications. Common areas include specialized file zipping/unzipping, complex text editors, graphic manipulators, sophisticated file searching, monitoring tools, and organizational products. These applications increase a programmer's effectiveness. The purchase of these tools should not be a barrier.

Great Surroundings
Productivity is 50% mental and 50% physical. Programmers remain seated for most of their career. A comfortable chair is a necessity. Most standard office chairs fall short of this goal. Physical health problems translate to lower mental output. Proper desk size, adequate room, and access to natural light are subtle but important factors.

Offer Flexibility
Job flexibility is a rising topic in organizations. Offering work from home options and flexible hours reduces lost effort while supporting a better work-life balance. Flexible hours can include freedom to arrive/leave as necessary, a four day work week, and/or summer hours.

Final Thoughts
Oscar Levant once said, "Happiness isn't something you experience; it's something you remember."

Along the same lines, John Wooden stated, "It's the little details that are vital. Little things make big things happen." The sections above are not meant to be an official checklist. They encourage conversation, which leads to higher job satisfaction.

Published at DZone with permission of Zac Gery, author and DZone MVB.

(Note: Opinions expressed in this article and its replies are the opinions of their respective authors and not those of DZone, Inc.)

Comments

Lund Wolfe replied on Sat, 2014/02/08 - 2:36pm

You can tell a lot about how a company values its employees from the quality of things like chairs and toilet paper.

Viraj Samarasekera replied on Tue, 2014/02/11 - 11:08pm

 Quite nice article about little things that most companies ignore.


Dr Hohls replied on Wed, 2014/02/12 - 9:23am

 A comfortable chair is a necessity. Most standard office chairs fall short of this goal. 

Let me rephrase this correctly, based on personal experience.

 An ergonomic chair is a necessity. All standard office chairs fall short of this goal. 


Isaac Carter replied on Wed, 2014/02/12 - 4:56pm

 Being allowed to use proper hardware and productive software goes a long way.   Nothing worse then realizing your company won't let you use the proper tools to get the job done.

Thomas Lennon replied on Fri, 2014/02/14 - 8:28am

Always revisit why we are here and why we are getting better/best at what we do and constantly remind people of those reasons. Programmers want to be working on the best products, with the best architectures and technologies, the best automated tests and with the best ways of working. 

If you don't care that your product/teams are going to be the best, your programmers won't either. 

Isaac Carter replied on Fri, 2014/02/14 - 9:42am in response to: Thomas Lennon

I couldn't have said it any better....well put Lennon.

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