Happy software developers solve problems better

Gimena Aguerreberry
August 27, 2021

Among the many skills required for software development, developers must possess high analytical problem-solving skills and creativity for the software construction process.

In "Understanding and Controlling Software Costs" the authors claim that a way to improve software developers’ productivity and software quality is to focus on people. Some strategies to achieve high-quality software involve creating a working environment to support creativity and providing incentives, in short, making software developers satisfied and happy.

This perception of the importance of human aspects in software development, e.g., "Individuals and interactions over processes

and tools", led to the publication of the Agile manifesto.

The environment of software development is all but simple and predictable, a lot of change occurs while the software is being developed, and agility is required to adapt and respond to such changes.

Many of the tasks that software developers engage in require problem-solving. For example, software developers need to plan strategies to find a possible solution to a given problem or to generate multiple creative and innovative ideas. Therefore, among the many skills required for software development, developers need to possess creativity and high analytical problem-solving skills.

The role of emotions in the workplace has been the subject of study management research but focusing on job outcomes such as stress, turnover, burnout, and satisfaction. A study: "The emotions of systems developers: an empirical study of affective events theory" explored the emotions of information technology professionals and how these emotions could help explain their job outcomes.

Problem-solving performance and emotions

Researchers distinguish two modes of creative and analytic

problem-solving: convergent and divergent thinking, which map roughly onto creativity and analytic problem-solving abilities.

Divergent thinking involves the ability to generate a large number of ideas that are not necessarily correlated. Convergent thinking involves solving well-defined, rational problems that often have a unique, correct answer, leaving little room for creativity because the answers are either right or wrong.

In recent years, some studies found that positive emotions lead to a higher quality of ideas and that the processes of transferring and learning analytical problems deteriorate when individuals are experiencing negative emotions.

Happy Software Developers Solve Problems Better

A study from the University of Bozen-Bolzano found that "the happiest software developers are more productive in analytical problem solving


Their results showed that the happiest software developers outperformed all the other participants in terms of analytic problem-solving.

These results have implications for management styles and support the idea that an increase in productivity is expected by making software developers happy.

Our immediate surrounding and workplace environment has a significant impact on the state of our minds. A positive work environment has direct implications on their performance, productivity, and mood at work.

The company culture is an amalgamation of company values, leadership style, internal behavior, internal communication, company structure, etc.

How the company runs internally has a significant impact on the workplace environment. It is something that needs to be worked upon constantly, and it is not a one-time agenda.

Building a healthy company culture requires the participation of all the members at various levels of the organization. Companies should focus more on creating a collaborative work environment that facilitates robust communication and constructive feedback.

You might feel like there is very little that you can do to improve the well-being, (or happiness) of your employees, but it is not so. Some minor changes in the workplace can reap much more significant benefits.

Final Thoughts

The new generations (Millennials and GenZ) in the workforce identify themselves as global citizens. They are not only accepting, but they are welcoming diversity in the workforce.

When people from different regions, ethnicities, traditions, and social structures come together, they bring new and unique ideas to the table. They offer a fresh perspective on matters and more ways of problem-solving. Diversity helps you in building a solid work culture, and having a positive work culture can help employees find the real value in their work and be happy.

"Happy software developers solve problems better" by Gimena Aguerreberry is licensed under CC BY SA. Source code examples are licensed under MIT.

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez.

Categorized under people.

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