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IT Staff Head for the Exits Due to Work-Related Stress

Independent research commissioned by GFI Software shows IT personnel suffer startling levels of workplace stress, driving more than ever to look for a change of employment

DURHAM, N.C., April 24, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- GFI Software® today announced the findings of its third annual IT Admin Stress Survey, which revealed that 79 percent of IT staff are actively considering leaving their current role due to job-related stress, despite apparent economic and staffing improvements in many businesses across the country. For the third year running, stress is contributing to job dissatisfaction among IT professionals. Despite improvements in the economy reducing budget pressures, the level of job dissatisfaction among US IT professionals has increased since 2013, when just 57 percent of those surveyed reported they were actively looking to leave their current role.

GFI Software corporate logo.

The blind, independent study was conducted by Opinion Matters among 200 US IT administrators in companies of 10 or more people. 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:

  • 77 percent of all US IT staff surveyed consider their job stressful – an increase of 12 percent over 2013
  • More than one-third (38 percent) have missed social functions due to overrunning issues at work
  • 35 percent also report missing time with their families due to work demands on their personal time
  • One-third of IT staff regularly lose sleep over work pressures
  • One-quarter have suffered stress-related illness, while a further 17 percent complain of feeling in poor physical condition due to work demands, a small improvement over 2013 (20 percent)
  • 24 percent of respondents have had a relationship severely damaged or fail due to their job
  • 30 percent feel they are the most stressed person in their social or family group

Management Headache

Management was singled out as the biggest contributing factor to workplace stress; with more than one-third (36 percent) of the sample of IT professionals surveyed citing it as the biggest source of stress. An additional 34 percent cited a lack of budget and staff to get the job done, despite the perceived improvement in the US job market.

Long Hours, Little Pay

Once again, IT staff frequently find themselves working additional hours to get the job done, often without additional pay. On average, the IT workers surveyed would work eight and a half hours a week over and above their stated working hours, with 23 percent of the survey sample working between eight and 12 hours of unpaid overtime each week.

Bigger is Better

While the overall number of IT staff looking to change roles is already high, in organizations with between 250-500 staff it is particularly high (83 percent). Meanwhile, IT admins at the smallest companies with between 10 and 49 staff are not much more content, with almost 71 percent looking for a new role. Surprisingly, employees in the largest companies – those with more than 500 employees – are the most content, with just shy of 60 percent looking for an exit.

"IT is renowned for being one of the most stressful white-collar jobs to undertake, now more so than ever given the critical role IT plays in everything from ecommerce to facilities management," said Sergio Galindo, general manager of the Infrastructure Business Unit at GFI Software. "There is a lot that organizations can do to reduce the burden – and with it the stress levels – carried by IT staff. Providing realistic IT budgets and staffing levels helps a lot, but there are productivity changes that can also significantly de-stress the IT department, such as investing in technology to automate personnel-intensive activities like deploying software updates and managing sprawling Wi-Fi networks and the myriad of mobile devices that users are bringing to work."

Regional Findings

  • IT staff in the West and Southwest are the most stressed group, with 80 percent of those surveyed in each region saying their work was overtly stressful. Staff in the Northeast are the least stressed, with only two-thirds of respondents declaring themselves stressed at work
  • San Jose and Denver are the cities with the most stressed IT staff – with 100 percent of IT professionals there stressed at work
  • In the Northeast, 43 percent of staff surveyed said management was the biggest cause of stress at work, the highest of all the regions and above the national average
  • IT departments in the Northeast are also the most concerned about the lack of budget for IT activities (21 percent)
  • Nearly half (47 percent) of IT personnel in the West are the most stressed of all the people in their social circle
  • More than a third (37 percent) of IT staff in the West have also experienced stress-related health issues such as high blood pressure

Rosier Outlook Overseas

This year's figures are in stark contrast to the UK, where the same survey revealed noticeably lower levels of stress, and lower levels of job dissatisfaction among the UK's IT professionals. Just over two thirds of UK IT staff (68 percent) are looking for a new role, broadly in line with the same number that report their current role to be stressful. However, management is a significantly bigger influence on UK IT stress levels, with 50 percent of those surveyed singling it out as the root cause of their work-related stress, far higher than the US.

IT Staff Hear the Darnedest Things

In an effort to understand what it is that causes such high levels of stress among IT staff, they were queried about the most bizarre, silly or otherwise frustrating thing that management or end users had asked of them. Mind-boggling responses included:

  • "I asked a user to open Windows – they took it literally"
  • "Having to repair and replace damaged machines because users keep hitting them"
  • "A user jacked up his car and used his company laptop as a wheel support. It did not work"
  • "User complained there was a ghost in her PC when IT staff remote connected to it to resolve an issue"
  • For the third year running, the most popular complaint to IT by users was: "User complained they could not print/computer was not working, but failed to notice that the printer/computer in question wasn't even switched on"

A copy of the full survey results is available upon request.

About GFI Software

GFI Software™ develops quality IT solutions for small to mid-sized businesses with generally up to 1,000 users. GFI® offers two main technology solutions: GFI MAX™, which enables managed service providers (MSPs) to deliver superior services to their customers; and GFI Cloud™, which empowers companies with their own internal IT teams to manage and maintain their networks via the cloud. Serving an expanding customer base of more than 200,000 companies, GFI's product line also includes collaboration, network security, 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 has received numerous awards and industry accolades, and is a longtime Microsoft® Gold ISV Partner.

For more information

GFI Software
Please email David Kelleher at [email protected]
GFI - Malta: Tel: +356 2205 2000; Fax: +356 21382419
URL: http://www.gfi.com 

Davies Murphy Group
Please email JaeMi Pennington at [email protected]  
Tel: +1 781 418 2401

Logo - http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20120330/NE79547LOGO

SOURCE GFI Software

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