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TEKsystems’ IT Stress and Pride Survey Uncovers Workforce Stability Warning Signals

TEKsystems®, a leading provider of IT staffing solutions, IT talent management expertise and IT services, today released the results of its second annual IT Stress & Pride Survey which explores the levels of stress, expected accessibility and career pride experienced by IT professionals. Overall, the survey results point to significant warning signals for organizations to heed, as they could indicate workforce changes at more mission-critical senior IT positions.

These survey findings represent the views of entry- to mid-level and senior IT professionals in North America across a wide variety of industries.

Warning Signal #1: High Levels of Potential Staff Turnover on the Horizon

  • One-third facing all-time high stress levels. Nearly a third (31 percent) of IT professionals say the work they are currently doing is the most stressful of their career. The feelings of stress were consistent across groups, with 32 percent of senior-level IT professionals and 30 percent of entry- to mid-level IT professionals reporting all-time high career levels of stress.
  • Entry- to mid-level IT workers far more affected by stress to initiate a job search. More than four out of five (81 percent) entry- to mid-level IT workers and more than six out of ten (65 percent) senior IT professionals say that stress causes them to initiate a job search. Furthermore, over two-thirds (69 percent) of entry- to mid-level workers say they would be willing to take a pay cut to escape stress. Comparatively, less than a quarter (22 percent) of senior level workers would be willing to accept a pay decrease to escape stress.

Combining these two factors, organizations should be concerned about stress levels leading to increased staff volatility, especially for entry- to mid-level IT professionals, as they are less constricted by compensation concerns. While the majority (78 percent) of senior IT professionals would not sacrifice salary to escape a stressful situation, organizations need to be sensitive to turnover in high-demand positions, where salary demands will likely be readily met.

Warning Signal #2: Throughput Now Top Stress Issue

  • Managing workloads leapfrogs to No. 1 stress factor. IT professionals now view keeping up with organizational requests and workloads as the biggest stressor they face on a daily basis, displacing “keeping up with technology.” Thirty-one percent of IT professionals now rank “keeping up with organizational requests/workload” as the most stressful (rising from #3, 23 percent in 2013), followed by 28 percent choosing “keeping up with technology” (dropping from #1, 31 percent in 2013). Twenty-three percent chose “impact on work/life balance” (dropping from #2, 28 percent in 2013), while 18 percent chose “coordinating, interacting with co-workers/supervisors” (staying at #4, 18 percent in 2013).

With “workload” displacing “technology” as the top stressor, organizations should be vigilant not to jeopardize strategic focus for low-level task completion. If IT professionals become too distracted by day-to-day tasks, they could lose sight of emerging technology trends that will become important for their organization in the future. Additionally, while “impact on work/life balance” has decreased as a stress factor (from 28 percent to 23 percent), organizations should be clear on the cause of this decline - whether this is more due to reluctant acceptance of job expectations and accessibility, an indicator of job dissatisfaction, or the implementation of new mobile or off-site access technologies.

Warning Signal #3: Organizations Tend to Abuse Senior IT Professionals’ Downtime

  • 24x7 accessibility increasing for senior staffers, decreasing for others. Sixty-one percent of senior IT professionals report they are expected to be accessible 24x7 (increasing from 57 percent in 2013), compared to 27 percent of entry- to mid-level IT professionals (decreasing from 37 percent in 2013).
  • Entry- to mid-level IT professionals increasingly enjoying “punch-clock” expectations. Only about one of ten (12 percent) senior IT professionals report 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. accessibility as the expectation (decreasing from 20 percent in 2013), compared to 48 percent of entry- to mid-level IT professionals (increasing from 42 percent in 2013).
  • Working vacations increasing for senior IT professionals. Forty-seven percent of senior IT professionals report that they are expected to be available 24x7 while on vacation (increasing from 44 percent in 2013), compared to 18 percent of entry- to mid-level IT professionals (decreasing from 20 percent in 2013). Additionally, the percentage of senior IT professionals who indicate that they were not expected to be available during vacation shrank (from 33 percent in 2013 to 30 percent in 2014), while the percentage of entry- to mid-level of IT professionals not expected to be available increased (from 71 percent in 2013 to 74 percent in 2014).

There is a clear shift in the “always-on” accessibility expectation of senior IT professionals. While this might seem appropriate due to the higher potential for turnover of entry- to mid-level IT staff (see Warning Signal #1), organizations need to be sensitive that they may be creating a ‘catch-22’ situation, where they may increase the volatility at senior positions.

Warning Signal #4: Pride in IT as a Career Choice Declining

  • Senior IT professionals’ pride in career decreasing. The percentage of senior IT professionals that indicate they are proud of their career choice and their current role, assignments and responsibilities dropped from 72 percent in 2013 to 64 percent in 2014. Additionally, the percent that indicate pride in IT as a career, but not their current role, assignments and responsibilities increased from 25 percent in 2013 to 29 percent in 2014. Finally, the percentage that indicate they are not proud of their chosen career more than doubled from 3 percent in 2013 to 7 percent in 2014.
  • Entry- to mid-level IT professionals also showing decline. The percentage of entry- to mid-level IT professionals that indicate they are proud of their career and current role, assignments and responsibilities dropped from 64 percent in 2013 to 58 percent in 2014. Additionally, the percent that indicate that they are proud that they chose IT as a career but not proud of their current role, assignments and responsibilities increased from 30 percent in 2013 to 31 percent in 2014. Finally, the percentage that indicate they are not proud of their chosen career nearly doubled from 6 percent in 2013 to 11 percent in 2014.
  • Decline in IT professionals that would still choose to pursue careers in IT. Seventy-nine percent of senior IT professionals indicate that they would still choose IT as a career (down from 85 percent in 2013), while 76 percent of entry- to mid-level IT professionals would do the same (down from 80 percent in 2013).

While these figures are strong, they do show a decline. Overall, the percentage of IT professionals who would not choose to pursue a career in IT has risen from 19 percent in 2013 to 23 percent in 2014. These figures indicate a disconcerting trend towards dissatisfaction or disengagement that organizations should pay attention to, considering the increase in expectations being placed on senior staffers.

“While the majority of IT professionals are proud they chose a career in IT, the survey results point to the potential of a trend towards dissatisfaction or disengagement that organizations need to monitor,” said Jason Hayman, market research manager for TEKsystems. “The shift so far is slight, but if it continues and organizations do not prepare for and adjust their talent management and workforce strategies accordingly, they could face even greater turnover, possibly causing even more stress and increased workloads for those employees that stick around.”

About TEKsystems

People are at the heart of every successful business initiative. At TEKsystems, we understand people. Every year we deploy over 80,000 IT professionals at 6,000 client sites across North America, Europe and Asia. Our deep insights into IT human capital management enable us to help our clients achieve their business goals - while optimizing their IT workforce strategies. We provide IT staffing solutions, IT talent management expertise and IT services to help our clients plan, build and run their critical business initiatives. Through our range of quality-focused delivery models, we meet our clients where they are, and take them where they want to go, the way they want to get there.

TEKsystems. Our people make IT possible.

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