GFI Survey Data Indicates Improved Outlook on IT Administrator Stress in U.S

March 28, 2013 - 12:00

Second annual survey finds ten percent fewer IT admins are looking for career change, but stress levels remain a concern  

GFI Software™ today announced the results of its second annual IT Administrator Stress Survey, which revealed that the number of IT professionals considering leaving their job due to workplace stress has declined from 67% last year to 57% in 2013, a 10 point drop in one year. While the percentages are still staggeringly high, the results suggest a measure of improvement in working conditions and attitudes over the past 12 months. The outlook is not so rosy in the UK (see today’s related announcement: GFI Survey Shows Rise in IT Administrators Wanting Career Change Due to Stress), where 73% of IT professionals are considering leaving their job due to workplace stress, an increase of four percentage points from last year’s figures. 

The independent blind survey of 207 IT administrators in U.S. organizations with more than 10 employees was conducted from March 5-12 by Opinion Matterson behalf of GFI Software. 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 friends and family, and how it affects their personal and professional lives.

Nearly one-third of those surveyed cited dealing with managers as their most stressful job requirement, particularly for IT staff in organizations with fewer than 50 or more than 500 employees.  The other top sources of workplace stress for IT managers were lack of IT staff and tight deadlines, with 24% and 20% of respondents, respectively, citing these as primary contributors to their stress levels.

Key findings from the survey include:

  • - 65% of all IT administrators surveyed consider their job stressful, which is down slightly from the 2012 survey which revealed 69% of IT admins found their jobs stressful.
  • - Nearly one-third of those surveyed work more than eight hours of overtime each week in order to keep on top of their workload. That is the equivalent of working more than 10 weeks a year in overtime.
  • - Nearly two-thirds (62%) of respondents feel the same level of or more stress than others in their social circle.  This is more than a 10% decrease from last year’s findings, when an astounding 72% said this was the case.
  • - Of those who work at companies with more than 500 employees, one out of 10 employees (10%) regularly considers switching careers because of on-the-job stress. However, last year nearly one-quarter (23%) of IT administrators were regularly thinking about making a change, suggesting the environment has improved.
  • - IT staff from companies sized between 10 and 49 employees are most likely to quit their current roles due to stress, with 41% regularly considering a change.
  • - The top three sources of stress for IT admins are: management (29%), lack of IT staff (24%) and tight deadlines (20%). Users are the smallest source of stress, contributing to the stress level of 12 percent of IT admins.

Personal Lives and Health Bear the Brunt of IT Work Stress

Of great concern is the impact that work stress has on health and relationships. The 2013 numbers show a slight improvement, but the problem is still pervasive among IT administrators. While 73% of participants revealed that their jobs have negatively impacted their personal lives in a general way, the survey discovered some specific impacts:

  • - 21% of IT administrators have suffered stress-related health issues – such as high blood pressure – due to their work. This number actually slightly increased from 20% in 2012.
  • - One in five respondents (20%) indicated they do not feel great physically as a result of stress, which is an improvement from last year when 22% said that was the case.
  • - 34% of respondents have lost sleep due to work. This is an eight point drop from 42% last year.
  • - Another 16% revealed they have experienced a strained or failed relationship due to work stress. 20% thought that was the case last year.
  • - Nearly one-third of IT administrators (29%) have had to cancel commitments to family and friends due to work obligations. A decrease of six percentage points from last year.
  • - More than one-third (36%) of respondents have missed social functions due to work issues. That number was 40% last year.
  • - 31% of those surveyed have missed out on time with their children because of work demands. Again, this is a decrease from last year when 39% reported this.
  • - 27% of respondents said their job doesn’t impact their personal life at all. However, last year, only 16% could say that.

“The increasing importance of IT in the workplace and the 24/7 availability paradigm that has been created obviously creates a stressful atmosphere for many IT administrators,” said Phil Bousfield, GM of IT Operations at GFI Software. “Companies are more reliant than ever on IT innovation, uptime and speed of deployment, and thus, IT staff members are under extreme pressure to deliver for the benefit of the whole business. While it’s promising to see the U.S. survey results reflect a slight improvement in morale, it’s also concerning that more than half are still stressed to the point that they are actively considering leaving their current role. For SMBs in particular, the research is a stark reminder that IT staff need to be supported and given the right resources to do their job efficiently – and that management needs to be an enabler, not an obstacle for IT progress.”

Regional Statistics

  • - Respondents from the West region of the U.S. find their jobs more stressful than those in other regions, with more than three-quarters (76%) of IT administrators indicating their jobs are stressful.  This is a major shift from 2012, when the Northeast was reportedly the most stressed region for IT managers (74% of them felt it) and the West was the second least-stressful region to work in.
  • - The cities with the highest percentages of respondents who say they find their jobs stressful are:  San Francisco (89%), Denver (80%) and Philadelphia (80%).
  • - At least half of respondents in Columbus, OH (56%) and Detroit, MI (50%) say they do not have enough IT staff to get the job done.
  • - At least one-fifth of respondents in Boston (29%), New York (20%) and Los Angeles (20%) say they do not have enough budget for IT upgrades and projects.
  • - IT administrators in Boston report that they have the most stressful end users in the nation, with 43% indicating that the users they support are the biggest contributor of stress. The national average is 12%.
  • - The top U.S. cities in which respondents work more than eight hours of overtime are: Philadelphia (47%), Boston (43%) and Dallas (40%).
  • - The top U.S. cities in which the greatest percentages of respondents do not experience any overtime are: Austin (66%), Charlotte (60%), and Houston (50%).

End Users Do the Strangest Things

The survey also asked IT administrators about the most ridiculous things their end users have done. Responses included stories of users throwing a PC when it wouldn’t function properly, falling asleep on the keyboard, forcing an Ethernet plug into a phone jack by breaking the plastic connector, and calling IT to report that all the phone lines in their location were down. The most common issues were users complaining of hardware not working, only for IT to find the device was either not switched on or not plugged in, along with users spilling tea, coffee and other beverages on their computers or keyboards and then denying they had done it. For more detailed anecdotes, please visit GFI’s blog post on the topic here:

About GFI

GFI Software develops more than 15 quality IT solutions for small and medium businesses (SMBs) that typically have fewer than 1,000 users. The GFI MAX cloud service enables Managed Service Providers (MSPs) to deliver superior services to GFI’s expanding customer base of more than 200,000 companies. The GFI product line also includes collaboration, anti-spam, patch management, faxing, mail archiving and web monitoring. GFI is a channel-focused company with thousands of partners throughout the world. The company is the recipient of numerous awards and industry accolades, and is a long time Microsoft Gold ISV Partner.