How Stressful is IT?

How Stressful is IT?

A recent report finds that 78% of IT Administrators think their job is too stressful and also spotlights how this stress is effecting their professional and personal lives.

Mae West said, "Too much of a good thing can be wonderful".  Considering she lived to be 87 she probably didn't have work related stress in mind when she said it.

Stress is a funny thing. We need it both for motivation and to improve our performance, but too much stress can have the opposite effect on both. The chart below plots performance against a given level of stress. While a high level of stress can boarder on feelings of fatigue and overload, staying in the sweet spot just before that can lead us to optimal levels of performance. Too much however, and we can quickly crash into sickness, anxiety and burnout.   


Based on a survey of IT Administrators in the US, GFI found 78% were feeling they were on the right side of the curve, sitting somewhere in the orange to red areas.  Why might that be?  Their primary duty is to keep IT systems running effectively.  If we were to run a thought experiment, with a light switch labeled Global IT Systems, and then accidentally switched it off - our lives would come to a halt.  Even in our "kind of digital" world, so much of it is dependent on IT systems to operate. Combine this heady expectation with the demand for 24/7 uptime, along with an increasing call from business partners to help them enable new strategic technologies, as well as being asked to spend less time and money on running systems, all while knowing the only recognition you'll likely receive is when things go wrong - the survey makes a lot of sense.

Interestingly, managers rank the highest as the source of stress - 28%.  Like all jobs, the IT Administrator's is usually a mix of high value tasks and low value tasks, with the low value ones coming in as interruptions more so than planned. Email from last minute business needs or users experiencing trouble plays a large role in this, but so can the actual IT administrative tasks of the system.

Lack of control is a major stress producer. As a manager, you can improve this by identifying and delegating certain functions away from the IT administrator as highlighted in our posts about low value vs. high value tasksand improving organizational productivity.  By delegating these tasks via automation or using a third-party solution who can better manage them, you're able to remove many of the interruptions, work-stoppages, overtime and off-hour work that contribute to employee fatigue and stress which ultimately culminates into negative results on the person and organization as a whole.  

Check out the IT Stress report survey below. And try not to stress about it. 

Ravi Madhavan

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