By Tim Cannon
Your IT workers are stressed—really stressed. In a survey of health IT professionals conducted by my company, HealthITJobs.com, 52.2 percent of respondents said that on a scale of from one to 10, they feel chronic stress levels at a six or above on an average workday.
You know that chronic stress can have serious negative impacts on health and well-being, but IT is a stressful industry, so you may not think there’s much you can do to remedy the situation. Although stress is inevitable in an industry that changes as frequently as technology does, employers and managers can—and should—do more to reduce stress in the IT workplace. Here are a few things you can do to keep your IT workers happy and healthy.
If your employees are driving to work every day, they’re stressed before their workday begins. In fact, a study published in October in Transportation Research found that driving to work is the most stressful type of commute when compared with walking and public transportation.
Allowing IT employees to have flexible work schedules, which lets them work from home a few days a week or set their own hours, can reduce stress. In a recent survey conducted by FlexJobs, 68 percent of respondents said they are more productive when they work from home because it reduces the stress they feel from commuting. In addition, 97 percent said a job with flexibility would have a positive impact on their overall quality of life, while 87 percent said flexibility would lower their stress levels.
If you want to reduce stress and increase job satisfaction, give IT employees the freedom to determine when and where they work.
Your relationship, or lack thereof, with your employees has a greater impact on your employees’ stress levels than you think. In a survey of U.S. and Canadian employees conducted by Virgin Pulse this year, nearly 60 percent of respondents said their relationship with their employer positively impacts their focus or productivity at work, while 44 percent said it positively impacts their stress levels.
If your relationship with employees isn’t great, that could negatively impact their stress levels. Unfortunately, in IT, the relationship between employees and leaders is a problem. In the HealthITJobs.com survey, 51.3 percent of the health IT professionals surveyed rated their supervisor’s ability to lead and engage at a five or below.
Although you may think pressuring IT employees can help them to quickly and effectively produce quality work, doing so can take a toll on their morale and health. Instead, help to mitigate stress by being supportive. Offer to pitch in during busy times whenever possible, and provide the resources your employees need to do their jobs well.
Breakdowns in communication are the root cause of a lot of stress. Team members aren’t clear about who’s doing what, different teams don’t update each other on the status of projects, and leaders don’t regularly check in with their teams. This lack of communication can cause delays in projects and result in extra work for everyone involved.