For IT staff on the frontlines, the stress – and potential for burnout – is an occupational health issue that needs to be looked at seriously and addressed. While there aren’t necessarily hard and fast rules to follow, there are a few steps that CIOs, senior leadership and managers should take in order to tackle burnout on their teams.
As the pandemic turns into an endemic, and the Great Resignation leaves many businesses understaffed, managing the stress and fatigue of remaining employees is more critical than ever. Let’s look at some best practices for this high priority.
1) Be Aware of Unspoken Cues
Employees won’t always tell you when they are beginning to feel stressed out, overworked or unmotivated. It is the responsibility of IT leaders – CIOs and senior leadership – to read unspoken body language for signs of disengagement or increased frustration.
Practically every IT team has felt the impact of the Great Resignation. Understaffing results in even greater pressure for the remaining members. While CIOs and HR work together to attract talent, there needs to be just as much of a focus on improving employee experience, to retain existing staff.
Engaging in direct conversations with team members is one of the best ways to notice early signs of burnout. Scheduling proactive meetings to get to know team members and to talk to them one-on-one helps employees feel comfortable to open up and talk about struggles they might be having at work.
Team members should feel supported and encouraged to be open about their mental health struggles. In fact, almost half (42%) of technology professionals are concerned about their mental health due to pressures at work, while 75% of technical workers are more concerned about their mental health now than before the pandemic. Management can’t take steps to improve work conditions unless they know the real problems on the ground.
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2) Identify and Address IT Staff Frustrations
In recent years, companies and IT practitioners have started focusing heavily on employee experience, though progress has been uneven. Because IT workers are relied upon to resolve issues, people tend to forget that they are employees too.
IT teams need the right solutions to reduce mundane tasks that weigh them down, so they can focus their efforts on more strategic workflows. Leaders need to listen to staffers to understand which areas of work can be automated to help streamline processes and reduce the chances of burnout.
There are countless mundane tasks that can contribute to burnout or fatigue. These include overly complicated security protocols for logging into applications or even ticketing systems, which are designed to ‘help’ corporate employees, but flood IT teams with non-critical requests that occupy their time with unproductive work, resulting in less beneficial outputs for businesses.
For IT agents and team members who find themselves at a growing company, ticket requests can grow exponentially. While a growing company is a good ‘problem’ to have, it can actually make staff focus too much of their time on handling various onboarding and off-boarding requests – leaving no available time for IT to focus on the more-important business objectives.
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3) Stay Vigilant
Managers need to keep staff concerns top of mind – constantly. To help prevent burnout among IT staff, IT leaders should feel empowered to discontinue processes that do not work or that do not add value. Remember that digital transformation is not a project, but a continual process.
Conduct frequent audits to measure the effectiveness of processes, as well as the employee and agent experience. These will help determine which tweaks need to be made to tackle burnout in order to create a healthy employee experience for everyone – including your IT pros.
About the Author:
Prasad Ramakrishnan, CIO, Freshworks