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IT Staff Experience Increasing Levels of Stress in 2015

GFI Software’s fourth annual independent IT stress study reveals IT professionals suffering from workplace stress, unpaid overtime pressures and work/life imbalance

GFI Software™ today released the findings of its fourth annual independent IT Admin Stress Survey, revealing IT professionals increasingly feeling job-related stress and seeking to quit their current job due to stress. The study found that 78 percent of those surveyed experience workplace stress, while almost 82 percent of respondents are actively considering leaving their current IT job due to workplace stress and dissatisfaction with working conditions, up from 78.5 percent in 2014.

For the fourth year running, high workplace stress levels for IT professionals are dramatically impacting both employees and employers. These impacts are illustrated by increases in those staff looking to find another job, and in those working increasing amounts of unpaid overtime to cope with workloads. A growing number of IT staff are also experiencing substantial disruption to their personal lives as a result of work demands.

The independent blind study was conducted by Opinion Matters who polled 205 US IT administrators at companies with 10 or more people. The survey gauged respondents’ stress levels at work and revealed their opinions on their main stressors, as well as how their stress level compares to that of friends and family and how it affects their personal and professional lives.

Key findings from the survey include:

  • 78 percent of all US IT staff surveyed consider their job stressful – up one percent from 2014
  • Nearly half (45 percent) have missed social functions due to overrunning issues and tight deadlines at work, up from 38 percent in 2014
  • A further 40 percent also report missing time with their children due to work demands imposing on their personal time
  • Almost 40 percent  (38 percent) of IT staff regularly lose sleep due to work pressures
  • The number of respondents experiencing stress related illnesses increased slightly, to 27 percent from 25 percent in 2014
  • Nonetheless, a further 19 percent continue to report feeling in poor physical condition due to work demands, up two percent from last year

Management and users

Pressure and unreasonable demands from management clearly emerged as the biggest contributing factor to workplace stress, but was down considerably from last year. In 2015, 28 percent of those surveyed singled out management as their biggest point of stress, down from over 36 percent last year. Up considerably on last year was stress caused by the users that IT staff look after, jumping from 16 percent to 23 percent. In fact, in this year’s survey, we saw rises across all sources of stress, resulting in a more distributed set of responses. One consistent response over the last four years: lack of budget, remaining constant with around 16 percent of respondents citing this as their primary cause of stress.

Work pressures on relationships

The new survey revealed a disappointing rise in the number of respondents 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 last year and a new high in the four years of the survey.

“Even in an industry like IT that’s well-known for being extremely stressful and highly demanding of its workforce, the findings of this year’s IT Stress Survey makes for worrying reading. The 2015 survey results clearly show a substantial deterioration of the work/life balance and job satisfaction among the US IT workforce – quite concerning at a time when the IT sector is playing such a pivotal role in the growth of our economy,” said Sergio Galindo, general manager of GFI Software.

“Smart employers understand that an overstressed and unhappy workforce means less productivity, and the higher levels of illness, mistakes and staff turnover directly related to stress can have a very significant and direct cost to the bottom line. Investing in worker happiness and in systems to simplify the job of the IT department is often far cheaper than replacing over-stressed or unhappy staff,” Galindo added.

Unpaid overtime

Along with the rise in stress and worker unhappiness, this year’s survey revealed continuing high amount of unpaid overtime required by IT staff to meet deadlines and and deployments. 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 – only fractionally down on last year’s mean average of 8.5 hours. A further 47 percent of those surveyed work eight hours or more overtime, unpaid, every week.

“Employers can do much more to ease the pressures on the IT department, and at the same time benefit the wider business. Realistic IT budgets and staffing headcounts make a huge difference in both workplace happiness and productivity, for example, as does automating mundane and time-intensive tasks such as resetting passwords, patching computers and servers and looking for network vulnerabilities,” said Galindo.

Things are worse in the UK

This year’s figures are in contrast to the UK, where the same survey revealed slightly higher levels of stress, with 88 percent of those surveyed stating they are stressed at work – up considerably on the previous year and higher than the US. The number of people looking to change jobs is also higher than the US, at 90 percent - and higher than the previous year in the UK, when an already high 68.5 percent of those surveyed were actively looking for a new job. As with the US, users in the UK are becoming an increasingly problematic part of an IT professional’s job, with 21 percent of those surveyed in the UK citing them as the biggest source of stress. However, 33 percent pointed to the always-problematic management as their biggest source of stress – lower than last year in the UK but higher than the US.

A copy of the full survey results and infographic can be found at: https://www.gfi.com/~/media/Images/GFI/Pages/it%20stress%202015/IT_Stress_Survey_2015.ashx


About GFI Software
GFI Software™ develops quality IT solutions that enable businesses to monitor, manage and secure their networks with minimal administrative overheard. Serving an expanding customer base of tens of thousands of companies, GFI focuses on scalable communications and security platforms comprising network security, web management, anti-spam, patch and vulnerability management, faxing and archiving solutions. GFI is a channel-focused company with thousands of partners worldwide. The company has received numerous awards and industry accolades, and is a longtime Microsoft® Gold ISV Partner.

Copyright © 2015 GFI Software. All rights reserved. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners. To the best of our knowledge, all details were correct at the time of publishing; this information is subject to change without notice