The summer vacation season has officially begun and for many this means a chance to unplug and recharge, but for some IT professionals there may not be any rest in the near future. A recent study of stress and pride among IT professionals reveals that they are satisfied with their career choice, but it comes with a price.
Always On. When entry- to senior-level IT professionals were questioned about how accessible they are expected to be within the usual workweek, a “tale of two ITs” emerged. On average, the top two responses were “available 24/7” at 41 percent, followed by “available 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.” at 38 percent. There was little middle ground between the two extremes with 14 percent of respondents indicating “6 a.m.to 8 p.m.” and seven percent indicating “6 a.m. to midnight.”
A different picture emerges when you look at just senior-level IT professionals: 57 percent indicated they are expected to be “available 24/7.” This is a sizable jump from the 37 percent of entry and mid-level IT professionals who are expected to be on point at all times.
Balancing Act. Another interesting finding from the study is what IT professionals revealed to be the top two most stressful aspects of their jobs — “keeping up with technology” and “impact on work/life balance.” Senior-level IT professionals selected work/life balance as the top issue (33 percent) followed by technology (31 percent), while the entry- and mid-level respondents rated technology first (31 percent) followed by work/life balance (27 percent).
And, the fact that senior-level IT professionals can’t strike a good work/life balance is underscored by the following findings that reveal they’re still “on” even when supposed to be “off” on vacation.
Summertime Blues. Sixty-seven percent of all IT professionals reported that their vacations have been interrupted by work demands. Among the senior-level respondents in particular, 67 percent revealed that they are expected to be accessible when on vacation. And, 44 percent of that group must be available “24/7” — only a 13 percent decline compared with their normal working schedule. Meanwhile, 71 percent of entry- and mid-level respondents indicated that they are off the hook — they’re not expected to be available at all during vacation.
Complicating matters for everyone, more than 80 percent of respondents indicated that their organizations make no staffing (i.e., bringing in temporary help) or workload adjustments (i.e., lessening workload, extending deadlines) during IT staff summer vacations. Clearly, summer doesn’t offer IT professionals the break so many in other occupations have come to expect.
Proud, But Not Loud. One particularly positive finding that came out of this study is that 95 percent of the IT professionals surveyed said they are proud of their careers. However, 29 percent of that group admitted that they aren’t necessarily proud of their current roles, assignments and responsibilities. Nonetheless, the overall majority (80 percent) of respondents indicated that they would still choose to pursue IT as a career and would recommend it to others.
However, setting all pride aside, some IT professionals did confess that they don’t talk shop out of the office. Twenty eight percent said that among family, friends and acquaintances they hide the fact that they work in IT for fear of being asked to provide technical help—and who can blame them?
Let’s Face It, No Job is Perfect. The good news is that despite the stress of their jobs, IT professionals across the board—from entry- to senior-level—continue to be proud of their careers and would take the same path again. The key is to keep them motivated and engaged, especially when the demands on their time push beyond typical workday hours and require attention 24/7. Organizations must put proactive plans in place for managing, supporting and retaining their IT talent — one of their most valuable assets.