GFI Survey Shows Rise in IT Administrators Wanting Career Change Due to Stress

March 27, 2013 - 12:00

Three-quarters of IT admins looking at exiting current roles due to on-the-job stress levels, with smaller businesses worst affected

GFI Software™ today announced the results of its second annual IT Admin Stress Survey, which revealed the number of IT professionals considering leaving their job due to workplace stress has jumped from 69% last year to 73%, underlining the increasingly challenging business landscape in the UK and the growing emphasis being placed on IT to help businesses grow, thrive and compete.

One-third of those surveyed cited dealing with managers as their most stressful job requirement, particularly for IT staff in larger organisations, while handling end user support requests, budget squeeze and tight deadlines were also singled out as the main causes of workplace stress for IT managers.

The independent, blind survey of 206 IT administrators in UK organisations with more than 10 employees was conducted byOpinion Matters from 5-12 March on 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 that of friends and family and how it affects their personal and professional lives.

Key findings from the survey include:

  • - 68% of all IT administrators surveyed consider their job stressful.
  • - 21% of those surveyed work between three and five hours of overtime in order to keep on top of their workload. 12% work eight to 10 hours a week. In total, almost half (49%) are working six or more hours overtime a week.
  • - Over a third (35%) of respondents have missed social functions due to work issues. A further 30% of those surveyed have missed out on planned family time because of work demands.
  • - Over 63% of staff surveyed feel they are either as stressed or more stressed at work than their friends and colleagues.
  • - 28% of IT admins point to a lack of budget and staff needed to get the job done as their primary reasons for job stress.
  • - Of the 73% of respondents considering changing their role, 36% do so on a regular basis.
  • - IT staff from companies sized between 100 and 249 employees are most likely to quit their current role due to stress. Staff from the largest firms surveyed (more than 500 employees) are least likely to quit their role due to work stress.
  • - The top three sources of stress for IT admins are: management (35%), tight deadlines (19%) and lack of budget (17%). Interestingly enough, users dropped from the second biggest stress cause in 2012 (21%) to only the fourth biggest cause (16%).

IT admins also noted that they continue to put in many hours of overtime beyond the traditional 40-hour work week and, in many cases, in excess of the legal maximum 48-hour working week set down in the EU Working Time Directive. While slightly down on last year (34%), one-third of survey participants (33%) said they work 10 hours or more of overtime during an average week, equating to 12 extra weeks per year.

Personal Lives and Health Affected by IT Work Stress
Of great concern is the impact that work stress is having on health and relationships. While a total of 80% of participants revealed that their job had negatively impacted their personal life in some way, the survey discovered some significant personal impact:

  • - 18% have suffered stress-related health issues due to their work, although this is a stark improvement on 2012 (29%).
  • - Another 18% also revealed they had experienced a strained or failed relationship due to work stress.
  • - 19% do not feel great physically as a result of stress, up from 16% last year.
  • - 28% have lost sleep due to work.
  • - Just over one-quarter (26%) have had to cancel commitments to family and friends due to work

“The increasing importance of IT in the workplace -- and with it, the critical responsibility placed on IT professionals – makes it impossible to overlook in this year’s survey figures,” said Phil Bousfield, GM IT Operations at GFI Software.  “Companies are more reliant than ever on IT innovation, uptime and speed of deployment, and thus, IT staff are under extreme pressure to deliver for the benefit of the whole business. We all know that a happy workforce is a productive workforce, so it is concerning that so many of our survey respondents are stressed to the point that they are actively considering leaving their current role in order to achieve a better work/life balance. For SMBs in particular, the research is a stark reminder that IT staff need to be supported and given the right resources – staff, budget and technology - to do their jobs well and that management need to be an enabler, not an obstacle for IT progress.”

Regional Statistics

Yorkshire is, once again, the region with the most stressed IT staff (77%), while the science and engineering heartland of the South West is the least stressed location (53%).

  • - Leeds (91%), Glasgow (83%) and Brighton (83%) are the three most stressed cities for IT staff. Plymouth is the least stressed city, with only 40% of respondents reporting they are stressed by work.
  • - Managers in Scotland-based offices cause the most stress for IT Admins (44%), while users in London and the Midlands (25% of respondents in each region) are the most stressful to deal with.
  • - Admins in the North East are, once again, under the most stress caused by a lack of IT budget (43%, up from 29% in 2012).
  • - IT staff in Wales (56%) and the Midlands (55%) are among the most stressed of those in their social circles.
  • - 18% of respondents in the North East work between 15 and 20 hours of overtime a week, the highest of any region surveyed. Staff in London work the most overtime overall.
  • - The survey revealed that IT staff in Belfast are most likely to quit their current role, with 75% of respondents regularly considering changing careers due to stress. Staff in Southampton are the most content, with only 50% considering a job change all or some of the time due to stress.

End Users Do the Strangest Things
Although users are not causing IT staff as much stress as they used to, it isn’t stopping them from creating moments that make IT admins want to tear their hair out in frustration. The survey asked IT admins what the most ridiculous thing was they had seen an end user do. Responses included stories of users complaining their mouse wasn’t working when they were trying to use a foam stress squeezer, a user thinking there was a ghost in her PC when IT support staff remoted into it to deliver support, a user who reported the Windows version as being “Patio Doors”, and stories of users who folded up a 5.25inch floppy disc in order to fit it into a 3.5inch disc drive. 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 over their computer or keyboard 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.