IT Professionals See Rise in Stress Levels

Up considerably over last year was stress caused by the users that IT staff support, which jumped to 23 percent from 16 percent.

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More than three-quarters of IT professionals experience workplace stress, so much so that 82% are actively considering leaving their current IT job, according to results of a survey of 205 IT admins at companies with 10 people or more.

The survey, conducted by Opinion Matters and sponsored by GFI Software, also revealed a rise in the number of IT pros reporting that a relationship or friendship had failed or been severely damaged due to work commitments intruding on personal life.

More than 25 percent experienced this in the last year, up from 23 percent in the previous year’s survey and a new high in the four years of the survey.

Users that IT staff support are a source of stress for 23 percent of IT pros, up from 16 percent a year ago.

Nearly half of respondents (45 percent) have missed social functions due to work issues and tight deadlines, up from 38 percent in 2014. Forty percent also report missing time with their children due to work demands imposing on their personal time.

"The concept of a 9-to-5 workday for an IT admin is just a dream. Now it’s a 24/7 job. It’s a struggle to keep systems secure, limit downtime so that no one has to stop working and make sure that users don’t grumble because email went down for 30 seconds," Sergio Galindo, general manager of GFI Software, told eWEEK. "For an IT admin, it’s more work, more systems to handle, and they must do more with less. Inevitably, their days will most likely become even more stressful."

Pressure and unreasonable demands from management emerged as the biggest contributing factor to workplace stress, at 28 percent, though that was down from 36 percent last year.

"It would be great if management understood the importance of security and the long-term implications on the business if they didn’t do anything," Galindo said. "If management truly understood the efforts made by IT pros to keep the network secure, they wouldn’t hesitate to invest in that area. Even management needs to be educated on technology and security issues."

He said another "easy win" for management is to provide adequate resources for IT admins to do their job, suggesting that if increasing headcount is out of the question, then management should encourage IT pros to find alternate solutions, like improved automation for a minimal fee.

Almost 48 percent of those surveyed work up to eight unpaid hours of overtime a week, with a mean average of 8.1 hours a week of unpaid overtime worked, and a further 47 percent of those surveyed work eight hours or more overtime, unpaid, every week.

"I don’t see IT pros’ stress levels going down any time soon," Galindo said. "Unless, they get the resources and investment they need. That, however, is a different story."