A November 2005 study by Robert Half Technology pointed to rising workloads for technology staff. According to the research, two-thirds of the CIOs polled said their IT teams had more on their plates than a year prior, almost all due to new projects. A follow-up study in March 2006 revealed a shift in tactics by CIOs from cost-cutting to retention, most utilizing a range of tactics to keep their best on board, including offering training and development and flexible schedules.While some employers are responding to employees desires for these "lifestyle benefits," others consider human capital a necessary component for the success of an enterprise, especially for a technology startup. Brad Feld, a managing director at Mobius Venture Capital of Superior, Colo., said he often sees people in startups hes investing in working around the clock at the expense of their personal lives. "I often tell people to just go on vacation. Its obvious when people are burning out and I try to be proactive. Many people try to stay in touch when they go on break; they feel such responsibility that they cannot disconnect for a chunk of time and Ive been very forceful about telling people to just go away, the world will not fall apart," he said. Feld speaks from experience. He has written extensively on his personal blog about working himself into exhaustion, divorce and weight gain when he was younger, and about actively choosing to change his approach to work. When his second wife threatened divorce if he was not more present in their lives, he said he implemented a slew of changes to save both his marriage and his sanity, including adding more mini-vacations and catching-up dinners, segmenting his office and non-office space at home, and meditating. "I realized I could be just as effective for long periods of time without traveling all the time and going to each and every meetingcould be more effective by structuring time a little more effectively." Personality plays a part in having difficulty maintaining a separation between work and home life, but only to a point, Feld observed. "Ambitious people often feel the need to be in control, and this translates to needing up-to-date information and being physically present all the time. A lot of people have the delusion that if they are physically present somewhere, the outcome will be different, leading them to attend every meeting, even the optional ones, rather than being thoughtful and planning well," he said. At the same time, Feld doesnt blame technology for its capability to keep people wired to their jobs even when theyre far away. More often, he explains, its the individual who cannot disconnect him or herself. "In a world where e-mail and cell phones are everywhere, a lot of people dont have the ability to recognize urgency versus non-urgency. For a lot of people who are busy all of the time, when theyre alone or quiet for a minute its very disconcerting. They dont know how to be alone. They dont know how to change gears," he said. In addition, the time management skills Feld has learned, he said, are nearly workload-irrelevant. "I dont believe I have more or less work to do than I had in 1999, or 1993. Ive always been busy, and theres always more work to do. Its all a matter of choosing how I spend my time and what I spend my time on. Its a matter of being deliberate versus reactive." Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, reviews and analysis on IT management issues.
"Good, lucrative compensation packages were once considered a cure-all to keep people, but its no longer the most effective strategy in todays workplace. Workers are looking for career growth [and] work-life balance. Retention is the hot topic right now," said Gilmore.