Is Tester Burnout A Real Thing?

Madigan Johnson

We all know that dreaded word, burnout, and hope that it never applies to us. There are the stories of developers burning out on projects, but does the same apply for software testers? It turns out that burnout does not only apply to developers, but rather it is a pervasive problem that impacts the entire software industry. Testers are actually highly susceptible. It is one of the main drivers in tester turnover which incurs high recruitment costs. Now more than ever, the focus needs to be on workplace stressors and stopping burnout. 

What Is Burnout?

Burnout is when a person feels emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by high and prolonged stress. It usually happens when a person is feeling overwhelmed, emotionally drained, and unable to meet the demands set by them or their work schedule. Deadlines approach and pass, the work is still not done. A small level of stress can be normal in the workplace.Yet, when the stress is persistent and ongoing, this can lead employees to have low morale, feel fatigued, and overwhelmed. Thus, burnout is achieved. 

Software Tester Burnout 

There is always work to be done in the software industry. One of the most common occurrences in software testing is trying to accomplish as much testing as possible within a certain time constraint. This can lead to people giving up or giving it their all but still being unable to finish. This can be discouraging. 


As a software tester, you cannot sprint the entire time and can face constant hardships in the field. Development teams will tell you that they do not need your expertise. There can be anxiety about missing bugs before major releases.There are time pressures and unrealistic expectations. Stress can stem from sour relationships with developers. These all play a huge role in the psyche of testers. 

Why Testers Quit

Nobody wants to be called a quitter, but burnout takes far more out of us than we realize. Job burnout is a special type that relies on workplace stress. It can lead people to utter exhaustion, reduced commitment, and lack of communication. There can be a variety of causes of tester burnout.


Excess Work

As a tester, there are always lulls and high sprints in testing. There might be days of low-volume testing before a high-intensity rush of work as it gets ready for the release. Yet, if there is no time to recover between the work, it can lead testers to high feelings of stress.


Lack of Control

Another common cause of stress is testers feeling that they lack control as they are dependent on others for their work. They might not have the data, resources, or environment that they need to complete their job. This can result in testers feeling frustrated.


No Encouragement

It is healthy for companies to offer motivations, rewards, or compensations for a job well done. Motivation is what keeps employees happy. A tester will have no reason to work hard if they are feeling unmotivated and there is no acknowledgment of the work being done. A distinct lack of praise can cause anxiety about their job performance.



If the environment is serious and strict the entire time, employees will not feel safe or secure. Strict environments have been shown to be detrimental to employee’s health. There is a balance when creating a strong work environment. Companies need to give software testers certain freedoms and ensure their comfortability while still hitting the targets andKPIs. 


Disagreement in Values

Another reason is if the tester feels that their values and the organizations do not align. Values are something that is critical to one’s sense and often are not able to change. If organizations are putting testers in positions where they do not feel comfortable, it can leave the testers with a sense of unease and uselessness. 

How To Prevent Burnout In Testers

Understanding how burnout occurs is the first step in preventing it. From there, other methods can be undertaken to ensure that your testers do not end up suffering from burnout. 



As a company, there needs to be a certain level of positivity. There will be speed bumps and issues that occur, but maintaining an overall positive environment goes a long way. It boosts employee satisfaction and morale. Acknowledge employees for their work and give them rewards or compensations. Make it a fun and safe space for them to come in and work.  


Delegation of Work

Some testers are better than others, even within companies. Yet, if you continue to place the burden of testing on only the most skilled employees, you are causing undue stress to them. It also does not provide others with the chance to learn. Delegate the work or rotate teams so they do not feel the constant work pressure.



You need to be listening to your employees and reaching out to them. Approach them before they can approach you with issues.This shows that your company cares about their well-being. Be an active listener and watch for signs of stress within your workplace. As for testers, speak to your managers or bosses. Don’t be afraid to open up about how you are struggling as they can help you resolve the issue sooner rather than later.


Inspire Curiosity

One of the most common factors regarding employees leaving their workplace is that they feel like they had nothing else to learn from the company. Make your company a place where employees are constantly inspired to do new things. Give them options to explore new tech or methods. By doing this you will retain employees longer.


Final Considerations

In testing, it is important to develop coping strategies to deal with high-stress situations. Yet, when those coping strategies are being used constantly, there needs to be an intense focus on changing the entire system to prevent high levels of stress, burnout, and dissatisfaction among employees. Testers need to understand and spot the signs of going down the burnout path. Take time for yourself, be proactive, and communicate what you need.

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