IT Job Stress Is Down, Pride Is Up: Study - InformationWeek

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5/20/2015
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David Wagner
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IT Job Stress Is Down, Pride Is Up: Study

A survey shows IT professionals are feeling pretty good about their jobs and their prospects in a sector that has a 2.5% unemployment rate.
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(Image: bottled_void via Flickr)

(Image: bottled_void via Flickr)

We've got some good news for a change. If you are reading this, you are probably less stressed than last year, according to a survey from TEKsystems, an IT staffing firm.

TEKsystems' annual IT Stress and Pride survey polled 1,000 IT workers at all levels. The results indicate you're much happier than you were a year ago about your decision to work in IT. For the most part, the things causing you stress are changing for the better.

The best news might be the reason for the change: One of the things TEKsystems is seeing is that employers are starting to let workers unplug when they are on vacation or otherwise off duty.

"What we've been looking at in the IT landscape in general is that one of the biggest issues [for companies] is retaining the IT talent they have on staff," said Jason Hayman, research manager at TEKsystems, in an interview, "A lot of [the change from employers] has to do with IT being in such huge demand. The supply of talent is low. The IT unemployment rate is around 2.5% right now. It has actually dipped down. In 2014, it was 3.5%."

According to Hayman, companies are starting to say, "'How do I keep my top talent happy? What is some low hanging fruit? What are things I can do?' Changing your culture is one thing you can do."

Improving work-life balance will certainly make people feel better. Hayman also said that the high demand for IT pros is making them feel less trapped in their jobs than they would be in a dimmer jobs market. Hayman said he sees a "certain feeling of invincibility" from IT pros. "They think, 'If I'm not happy where I am, I won't have trouble finding something somewhere else. If I get stuck or fired in this job, I won't have trouble finding a new one.'"

According to the survey, that all adds up to happier IT pros. Check out the details of the survey, and let us know whether the results align with what you're experiencing. Are you less stressed than you were last year? If not, what's stressing you out? What have been the most important changes to your work environment in the past year? Tell us about it in the comments section below.

David has been writing on business and technology for over 10 years and was most recently Managing Editor at Enterpriseefficiency.com. Before that he was an Assistant Editor at MIT Sloan Management Review, where he covered a wide range of business topics including IT, ... View Full Bio

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yalanand
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yalanand,
User Rank: Ninja
5/23/2015 | 1:58:18 PM
Re: Work Life Balance, the Anti-Stress tactic
@Stratustician: I agree to you. Some people go at night, some people don't. I've seen many managers going to their workplace late at night just because a client came up with a solution to their problems in the other half of the world and called for a business meeting. IT work is physically strenuous, but I think being a manager is tougher because mentally you would always have to be prepared to face troughs and crests in your work. 
yalanand
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yalanand,
User Rank: Ninja
5/22/2015 | 2:40:41 PM
Re: Work Life Balance, the Anti-Stress tactic
@sachinEE: He probably went many times, and he lied to you. 
yalanand
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yalanand,
User Rank: Ninja
5/22/2015 | 2:33:04 PM
Re: Bit of both
@Whoopty: most IT guys cannot harmonize with their surroundings, I am glad to see you are not in that crowd. IT guys need to love their work, although I know IT is not just help and support and some occassional bug fixing and coding, it is much more, and this "much more" creates so much stress in people.
David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
5/21/2015 | 11:23:59 AM
Re: Work Life Balance, the Anti-Stress tactic
@sachinEE- Wow, seems like a bad strategy to call the "bad" workers in the midle of the night. Middle of the night problems seem to require your best folks on the case. But I get the sense of punishment involved, especially if the problem is their fault.
David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
5/21/2015 | 11:21:17 AM
Re: Bit of both
@Whoopty- I get that pride comes from a job well done, but I don't feel like stress is always required to do it. I think my happiest days and the ones I'm most proud of are the days I accomplish a lot without the stress associated with a bad day. I did it for me. I did it for the job. Not for a deadline. But you're right that without some stress it just doesn't feel important.
Whoopty
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Whoopty,
User Rank: Ninja
5/21/2015 | 7:33:17 AM
Bit of both
Stress and pride tend to go hand in hand with my job. The more I have to take on, the more stressed I am, but the more proud I am at the end of the day for having managed it. There may be a tipping point where it becomes too much, but so far the correlation has held pretty strong throughout my career. 
Stratustician
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Stratustician,
User Rank: Ninja
5/20/2015 | 3:50:12 PM
Re: Work Life Balance, the Anti-Stress tactic
I agree, not every IT job has those odd hours, but think of security folks.  I know many who get those late night calls because someone in a different timezone is trying to hack into their servers or get past their perimeter security devices.  What about other emergency break/fix situations?  If someone in IT operations is responsible for making sure services and applications are always available, there's a huge risk of "what if I am away on vacation and someting happens?" so they often don't take vacations, which leads to burnout.
SachinEE
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SachinEE,
User Rank: Ninja
5/20/2015 | 3:09:44 PM
Re: Work Life Balance, the Anti-Stress tactic
@stratustician: I had a senior once, who told me that only those people are called at the middle of the night who don't do their work earnestly and properly during the day. And during my work there, 3 years, he was called only once in the middle of the night. His speciality was tying up loose ends to code and trying every logic breaking input possible. 
SachinEE
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SachinEE,
User Rank: Ninja
5/20/2015 | 3:06:24 PM
Stressful
IT jobs are excruciating. Day in day out you have to stay there and be happy about it because they are dumping on you a load of amenities and cash. I've learned something from working in IT, if you are having your lunch break, get out of the building and eat outside. You will be called to run some errand if you are inside the building.
Stratustician
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Stratustician,
User Rank: Ninja
5/20/2015 | 2:55:23 PM
Work Life Balance, the Anti-Stress tactic
I think a lot of folks forget that often due to the nature of IT, especially on the operations side, it's hard to take time off since they need to be available incase a server or application needs support, and so that normal workplace stress compounds all that much faster.  Security teams often have to respond to incidents late at night or early morning, so sadly, while the nature of the role won't change, there is some potential to keep workers happy by offering better work/life balance.  I also find often that as employees get older, start families, they often rethink more senior roles in order to keep that balance, as they don't want to forfeit the flexibility of working regular hours, or even remote at times.

As more millenials come into the workplace, more flexible job types emerge, especially with teams and even contract roles, we will see more emphasis on "work hard" but an even more increased pushback on making sure that IT folks are not only engaged in projects that bring them fulfillment in order to offset workplace stress, but also more flexible work models.
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