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Why Programmers are Feeling Burned Out, and How to Avoid It 

By Vahid Haghzare, Director &
Armie Garcia, Marketing Associate
Silicon Valley Associates Recruitment


One of the top IT Recruitment Agencies in Hong KongDubai, Shenzhen, Shanghai, Singapore, and Japan, SVA Recruitment is an IT and employment agency that provides jobs, executive search, and recruitment services.



Silicon Valley Associates Recruitment has recently been getting lots of complaints from our developer candidates’ network, in Hong Kong, Shanghai, and Singapore, about experiencing burnout. 

This is despite the fact some of them are working from home most days of the week. 

What started as a job you couldn’t wait to get up for, has turned into a feeling of not wanting to get out of bed at all, or worse a feeling you are wasting your life day-by-day.

So we asked our IT Recruiters to conduct a survey amongst our network, to find the reasons why they might feel burnout or exhausted and drained. Here’s what SVA Recruitment gathered. 

The answers were similar across the multiple locations we asked- HK, China, and Singapore:

1.  Going through the same work routine 

Having to sit in front of the computer all day is the reality for some of us, especially for those who work having to do coding all day. 

You may have breaks and meetings as a way of getting away from their screens once in a while, but it isn’t enough to cope with inactive, unhealthy sitting positions throughout the whole week.  

Yes, the work may be exciting, but the problem is lacking activities or movements that are needed physically, that leads to slowing down on tasks and actually doing less work.

Our respondents who didn’t have this problem at all had one overwhelming similarity- a healthy lifestyle that included going for exercise or gym multiple times per week.

2.  Dealing with bad coworkers

Even when the job and task at hand are awesome and thrilling, some of our folks who do have to go to the office most days had another reason they couldn’t find the right motivation to go to work. 

Bad influences of the people they work with every single day, and the relationships they have with each other. Just because you do not have the same interests or share the same values, is not a reason to treat each other badly. 

This one is a bit more difficult to fix. You could speak to your manager about the issue, but ultimately a team culture is hard to change, especially if the management is part of the problem! 

You may have to look for a change in this situation, either a different team or company altogether. Just remember next time to prioritize getting to meet the teammates, before you accept the next job offer. 

See our latest Candidates who are currently looking for new work right now, if you feel you can provide a better environment for them to work in.

3.  Unrealistic deadlines

Another common complaint. Programmers are expected to always deliver the best output, and most take pride in their results. But having a lot of deadlines to reach, especially if tight, can lead to dreadful output and worse- mental health. 

Deadlines are important, otherwise, things won’t get done. But according to our respondents, some companies, managers, and clients are forgetting that humans are not robots and can’t do everything all at once. 

Programmers are putting too much pressure on themselves is not productive- even though they might finish the work, the final product might not be the best it could have been, and they also will not feel that sense of accomplishment. 

Setting expectations at the start- whether it is with your manager, or the client, is key to fixing this. Consider some buffer time in your planning in case activities have late starts or finishes. 

If the manager or client doesn’t agree, then you have a decision to make on whether it is healthy for you to continue working together or not. 

4.  Salary is too low

A lot of programmers explained to us that if they do their job correctly and exceed what is expected of them, yet don’t get the pay that they feel they deserve; burnout starts to creep in. 

Similarly, if the pay is too low and they cannot put the food on the table after time put in to deliver the work, the motivation to continue putting in the work falls right off a cliff. 

Again, communication is key in this instance. Bring this up with your manager, HR, or client. And as per the last example, if they don’t agree, you have a decision to make. 

But what is a competitive salary? You may be interested in our free latest Salary Guide here to find out

5.  Salary is too high! 

In the reverse, one candidate explained that getting paid too much also leads to burnout. 

“With great power comes great responsibility. When the company paid me too much, I was also expected to deliver incredible results and piece of code that was worth the pay. And of course, I had to work much harder. In the end, I couldn’t keep up.’

Similar to some football/soccer players who arrive at a new club with a high price tag and aren’t able to deliver because of the pressure of meeting those expectations. Be careful what you wish for. 

6.  Feeling Unappreciated. 

It’s not always about money. 

Work is good, coworkers are good. Pay is fine. But the problem perhaps lies with your manager?

All too often our network complained once they have finished a project, did it well, and finally felt that sense of accomplishment, another project was assigned by the manager without even acknowledging the recent project and job well done.

Feeling demotivated to start with the new task because your contribution is not being valued or recognized can lead to the exit door. We are all humans, not robots, and need some appreciation from time to time. 

The best way to deal with this is to bring it up with your manager or go over your manager and speak to their leader. This could be a training point which they can work on together. Another point, if your colleagues feel the same way, it is better to bring this up in the union, otherwise, you may come across as thin-skinned if you do it all alone.

But some managers or people are simply built this way and there is no changing them. It may simply be up to you to learn to congratulate yourself or get together as a team finds a way to celebrate your successes or wins, however small, without your manager or leader being involved. 

See the latest Jobs from our Clients who may actually appreciate you more.

7.  ‘Technical Debt’ 

See here to read more about the fastest-growing issue on our list.

8.  I Want A Divorce! 

Fallen out of love completely with programming! It happens, and sometimes there is nothing to rekindle that love you might have once had. 

Thankfully, there are plenty of other alternative career paths you can pursue as a Programmer. See here to read more about what are your options.


If you are a candidate and are considering a change due to the reasons above, feel free to reach out to SVA Recruitment for a confidential conversation, or check out our latest jobs here. Not all our jobs are advertised, so would be worth having a call in any case

If you are an employer who feels you can provide a better environment, feel free to browse our current candidates who may be feeling burnout and are open to new opportunities here

Enjoyed this article? Check out more blogs and thoughts from us

You might also be interested in our Salary guide and other free ebooks.


Visit our Job page for more Job opportunities and the Current Candidate page for available candidates.


Silicon Valley Associates is ideally positioned to support the continual demand from tech companies and IT Departments looking to hire in Hong Kong, Asia, and Worldwide. Please let us know if you would further advise on the above topic or your hiring needs

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