Software developer burnout costs enterprises $1 trillion a year

Software developer looking stressed at desk in a dark room with monitor light illuminating face.
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Burnout amongst software developers is at an all-time high, according to a new report, as they're expected to do more with less. 

Findings from Harness’ State of Developer Experience report, the high level of burnout within the profession is costing companies as much as $1 trillion per year, and is the reason that more than half of software developers quit.

"As a largely ignored portion of our workforce, developers are underappreciated, overworked, and, in turn, leaving their jobs," a spokesperson for the company said.

A key factor in growing developer workloads is the fact that many are forced to contend with a growing array of vendor tools, Harness said. This, the report noted, is creating a disparate ecosystem that hampers productivity and collaboration within developer teams.

More than half (54%) of developers said it takes longer than a week to learn new DevOps tools, with Harness suggesting that it would take a new developer an average of 100 days to onboard, thanks to the multitude of tools involved.

Meanwhile, developers often find themselves spending valuable time troubleshooting compatibility issues, updating plugins, and applying patches, with six-in-ten respondents revealing it takes a week or longer to build internal tooling.

Virtually all - 97% - said they context switch because their tools are from multiple vendors.

Having to juggle multiple tools also means that developers need to switch between different interfaces, learn varying workflows, and manage separate accounts and licenses.

Meanwhile, Harness found 60% of organizations are still releasing code on a monthly or quarterly basis. Four-in-ten developers think deploying code to production isn’t fast or efficient, and 44% say the same about testing code end-to-end.

"Waiting for extended periods between releases can lead to delays in delivering new features, addressing critical issues and responding to customer feedback promptly," the researchers warned.

Software developers have had enough

More than half of developers cited burnout as a reason their peers are leaving their jobs, and 45% said they don’t have enough time for learning and development. 

Similarly, 62% also experience ‘scope creep’, with expanding requirements meaning that they're taking on more, with less confidence that they can achieve what's required.

"Organizations must foster a cultural shift that emphasizes collaboration, shared responsibilities, and a common set of goals between development and operations teams," the study noted.

The report is just the latest to highlight the issue of developer burnout, which has been growing in frequency over the last several years.


A study from JetBrains earlier this year found that nearly three-quarters of devs had experienced burnout at some point in their career.

Nearly half told JetBrains that they were concerned enough to take steps to keep tabs on their wellbeing, such as using self-monitoring apps and devices to track physical activity, sleep quality, and general health.

Earlier research from Haystack Analytics in 2021 found that 83% of developers suffered from work-related stress and burnout. While increased pandemic-era workloads and remote working practices were identified as a key factor here, the issue has persisted since the pandemic subsided.

Emma Woollacott

Emma Woollacott is a freelance journalist writing for publications including the BBC, Private Eye, Forbes, Raconteur and specialist technology titles.