Stress is a health issue that we all experience at one time or another, and the IT department is no difference. In fact, given the huge demands being placed on these professionals by the wider business - with IT and networking solutions underpinning almost everything the business does - these teams will be under great pressure to perform.
There are a few stress-causing factors that are especially prevalent in IT teams as these departments need to juggle a wide range of responsibilities, often within strict budget and staffing constraints, which makes for a heavy workload. Many pros have to be on alert 24/7 in order to respond to any issues, making it the perfect breeding ground for stress.
With these demands in mind, it's hardly surprising that one study by GFI Software found that 78% of IT pros said their job was stressful - and as many as 82 percent of IT admins were actively considering leaving their current role because of this. But with talent so hard to find in today's environment, no business can afford to lose experienced IT experts.
Therefore, working to prevent burnout within their department is an essential part of any IT manager's job. Here's what you need to do to achieve this:
Know what the warning signs are
There are several telltale warning signs that can indicate that your employees are suffering from stress and feeling burned out. One of the first indications may well be a change in the quality of their work. This could be an increase in the amount of errors in their code, taking longer to do the same amount of work, or poorer customer service.
Happy professionals are productive professionals - and the reverse is also true. According to the University of Warwick, unhappy workers are ten percent less productive than their more satisfied peers, so workplace stress will have a direct impact on your organization's performance as well as the personal wellbeing of your staff.
Create a positive culture
The key to reducing burnout is to ensure a positive company culture that encourages a healthy work-life balance. This means ensuring that employees are able to unwind and recharge when they need to, so they can return fresh and excited to work.
For IT teams in particular, steps to ensure this may include limiting the time employees are expected to be engaged outside normal working hours. For example, enforcing 'emergency only' rules for out-of-hours contact helps make sure people can relax at home without having to worry about checking their work emails. Limiting the amount of time professionals spend on call is also a positive step to encourage a good work-life balance.
Help your workers be flexible
A formal health and wellbeing program that includes stress reduction measures can be a great way to tackle burnout. This is something only a quarter of organizations in the US have, but it can be one of the best ways of reducing the problem. Some companies go to great lengths within this - health insurance provider Aetna, for example, offers employees meditation, yoga and acupuncture services to help reduce stress, but you don't need to go this far to see results.
More straightforward steps such as promoting flexible and remote working can help employees fit their work into their personal life. IT professionals may be in a great position to take advantage of such offerings - after all, if anyone has the knowledge and skills to set up the necessary tech to let them work from home occasionally, it's an IT pro.
Even wellness benefits such as offering gym memberships and fresh fruit in the office can help tackle stress. Show that you recognize your employees’ efforts and care about their health, and you'll go a long way to boosting satisfaction and reducing the risk of burnout.