How to Keep Your Overburdened IT Staff from Burning OutBy Jenn Fulmer Print
Burnout among IT professionals is at an all-time high. Here’s how you can hang onto your skilled IT team and keep them happy in their role.
Between the COVID-19 pandemic and the increased demands for IT services, burnout for tech professionals is at an all-time high. Even before the pandemic, 57 percent of workers in the technology industry were struggling with burnout, and COVID-19 has only exacerbated this issue. Companies are relying more on software and technology-driven solutions to enable employees to work from home, meaning they’re now leaning more heavily on their IT departments. And as on-premises systems still need to be managed, demands on IT staff have increased exponentially. It's a recipe ripe for burnout.
IT professionals are facing longer hours, more responsibilities, and fewer pay increases, leaving many to consider switching fields altogether. Here are a few ways you can keep your skilled IT professionals happy in their roles, even during periods of high burnout.
Ways to prevent IT burnout
- Provide pay increases to compensate for extra work
- Give regular recognition and praise
- Hire when possible
- Listen to what your IT professionals need
Burnout often comes when executives and upper management are asking employees to increase their workload without increasing pay or benefits. Money isn’t everything, but people need to know their work is valued and appreciated, and burnout is a sure sign that they’re not feeling that way.
With the Coronavirus pandemic, companies were suddenly shifting their infrastructure to the cloud, which required a ton of IT resources. While this was hopefully a once-in-a-lifetime crisis, other emergencies or projects will eventually come up where you need to increase the load on your IT team. This is going to open you up to the risk of burnout among your IT team.
If you’re asking your employees to take on extra work, you should increase their pay to reflect it. Alternatively, if this extra work is only going to be short-term, you can offer them a spot bonus for it. If your benefits packages aren’t on par with others in your industry and you’re asking employees to take on more work without extra pay, you’re likely going to lose them.
One of the best ways to keep IT professionals during periods of widespread burnout is to prevent the burnout altogether. While this isn’t always possible, giving your employees regular recognition and praise is a great way to show your employees that you do truly value what they bring to your company.
Depending on the size of your company, it may not be possible for executives to consistently recognize good work throughout the organization, but peer-to-peer recognition tools can help fill in the gaps. Some of these solutions even allow your employees to exchange their recognition points for actual rewards, like gift cards.
Examples of peer recognition software:
Even with bonuses and pay raises, adding work to your employees’ already-full plates just isn’t sustainable. Extra work and longer hours increase the chances of employee burnout. Hiring proactively can help you ensure that you always have enough staff to tackle big projects and keep your current team from feeling overwhelmed. If you always seemed to be short-staffed, you’re probably hiring reactively and should take another look at your hiring strategy.
If your company has the means to do so, you should hire additional employees to help spread the extra work around. If you can’t afford full-time employees, consider part-time employees, paid interns, or contractors. You can even look into hiring a managed services provider to fill in some of the gaps.
If you’ve created a workplace where your employees feel that you actually value them, your IT team is going to tell you what they need. Check in on them occasionally and, if they make a reasonable request, fulfill it. They may need a new software license or additional hardware to make their jobs easier. They may also just need more people or a few extra days of paid time off, so they can rest and recharge.
By listening to your IT team and, within reason, providing them with what they need, you’re going to have an easier time preventing burnout and retaining highly skilled professionals. But don’t make them ask for everything. If you feel like they deserve a raise or notice something that could help them, provide it. Good business isn’t tricking your workers into providing more value than you’re paying for. It’s encouraging and incentivizing them to do their best and actually buy in and be proud of the work they’re doing.
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