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IT pros stress is low, but so is job satisfaction

Sharon Florentine | June 9, 2016
Working in IT can be a stressful career, but a new survey shows the pressure's easing for many tech workers. But is career satisfaction dropping, too?

Can't get no satisfaction

Maintaining those lower stress levels may seem key to organizations looking to retain valuable IT talent, but there's a caveat, Hayman says. While you want to make sure workers stress levels aren't causing them to burn out and look for employment elsewhere, you also must make sure they're not simply bored.

Only 48 percent of entry-to-mid-level respondents and 38 percent of senior IT professionals say they're currently doing the most satisfying work of their career - and this is a problem in an IT talent market where their skills and experience are in huge demand, Hayman says.

"Companies really need to think about keeping their employees happy and satisfied. These IT professionals are in such high demand that supply can't keep up, they're getting poached daily. The fact that our survey showed such high rates of dissatisfaction should be a red flag for employers to step back and ask what they can do to make work meaningful, challenging and satisfying," Hayman says.

One way to do that is by making sure workloads aren't overwhelming. The survey revealed that "organizational requests/workload" leapt to the top spot as top stressor for IT professionals, displacing "keeping up with technology," which was number 1 in the 2015 survey. Hayman says this reduction could be attributed to a shift in core IT duties, as organizations transition from implementing new initiatives to maintaining existing programs.

While this can, in some respects, be less stressful, it can also be both boring and can lead to burnout if projects aren't allocated evenly, or if IT workers aren't given adequate breaks to work on varying projects that are truly engaging, he says.

"Companies need to think about whether or not they're overburdening their workforce with all of these projects and not giving them enough time to rest and recharge - or not giving them enough opportunities to do meaningful, important work. If you have a workforce that's constantly straining under a never-ending workload, then they're going to be much more open to new opportunities and roles," he says.

The takeaway

The takeaway for organizations, then, is to maintain a good balance between stress and satisfaction or risk losing elite talent. In fact, according to the research, 57 percent of entry-to-mid-level IT professionals and 60 percent of senior IT pros say a stressful experience at work has motivated them to seek employment elsewhere. Forty one percent of entry-to-mid-level IT pros and 49 percent of senior IT professionals say they'd accept a pay cut in order to escape stress.

"It seems there's a finely choreographed dance between stress and satisfaction. If you're working on solving a major problem, yes, that's stressful, but it's also really fulfilling and brings great satisfaction. If you're just plugging along, punching in and out, maintaining the status quo, then how is that fulfilling? Sure, it's not stressful, but the flip side is you aren't feeling that it's very meaningful, either," Hayman says.


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