A CIO once told me that he’d like to create a new program to be called 24.2 – an upgrade that would give us more hours in a day. He lamented that our current 24-hour system is greatly out of date for the work realities of those in his field.
True enough, for most in IT, the word “workday” is a misnomer. It’s never 6 p.m. when you work in a world where staff and end-users are often spread across any number of 24 time zones.
Many tell me they see no way to fight this fact of life. For IT specialists, finding some sort of work/life balance is an appealing idea, and in reality it’s about as rare as an Apple 1 computer.*
A survey released this spring of 2,300 CIOs of companies which have more than 100 employees found 73% check in with work often, or somewhat often, on all evenings and weekends.
I am often consulted on how to help keep burnout at bay for both leaders and their team members. It’s an issue that is rarely put on an agenda, yet it’s on the minds of those charged with problem-solving and finding precision solutions under tight deadlines, 24/7.
When a CIO admitted feeling burnt out in a linked-in forum a few years ago, 54 CIOs from around the world instantly responded that they could relate. Included in the discussion was concern that feelings of exhaustion could be misinterpreted as incompetence.
In fact, the American Psychological Association has numerous studies on burnout that show there’s no correlation between ability, talent, and job fatigue. Burnout is caused only by chronic stress.
The research confirms that people who don’t get a break from unending work pressures, do not have the chance to recharge and so suffer a loss of energy and creativity. As a result, while problem-solving may continue, it may not be fueled by innovative, new thinking.
Still, that’s a finding that can be hard to quantify clearly in terms of dollars and cents for a company’s bottom line. Easier to calculate is the cost of losing top, knowledgeable, talent to burn-out.
A newly released independent US survey of 207 IT administrators in organizations with more than 10 employees in the US showed the following:
- 57% are considering leaving their jobs because of workplace stress.
- 65% define their jobs as “stressful”.
- One in five report significant stress-related health issues.
In helping IT teams ensure optimal productivity, I have found one of the most powerful antidotes to burnout is actually one of the most surprising – talk. IT specialists work under a “just fix-it” expectation that typically discourages any admission to professional or personal challenges.
Creating a safe environment where team members are able to talk through problems without concern of damaging their reputation is tremendously productive. In these forums, the team members have a chance to support each other and brainstorm solutions. I have seen this kind of solidarity go a long way to reduce stress and help people regain a greater enjoyment of their work.
Next month, to help you make the most of summer, I’ll share more best practices for finding some work/life balance while dealing with the reality of a job that never sleeps.
In August, I’ll return to the discussion of how to increase your influence around the boardroom by taking a look at the new position of Chief Marketing Technology Officer and what that means for you.
* Want to know just how rare is the Apple 1? Approximately 200 were made, of which fewer than 50 are believed to remain — and only six in working order. A functional Apple1, hand-assembled by Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak in 1976, fetched a record $671,400 on May 25 this year at an auction in Cologne, Germany. Legend has it that Wozniak financed the making of these computers by selling his HP-65 calculator and Steve Jobs sold his VW campervan.
Bagg Technology Resources – “Where Experience Delivers”
D: 416-847-4962; E: Joanne.Boucher@bagg.com
Joanne is the General Manager for Bagg Technology Resources bringing over 20 years of industry experience in Project and Solutions Resourcing, Solutions offshore and near-shore for application development and data warehouse project delivery, Information Technology, Engineering, Management, Contract/Full Time Resourcing.
Joanne’s goal is to deliver distinct flexible resource solutions to meet and exceed the requirements of her clients and candidates by understanding their goals and challenges, by leveraging technology and by respecting the intrinsic value of our each person she comes in contact with.
Joanne believes that the relationships developed in resourcing are lasting and works with both resources and clients on long term plans and goals. This consultative approach has enabled her to be proactive in forecasting clients’ requirements and assisting resources with their career direction. To enhance her ability to understand the requirements of her clients, Joanne has enhanced her post-secondary education with Information Technology courses at Ryerson University.
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Keywords: IT Staffing, IT Recruiting, IT Resourcing, Resource Management, IT Project Management, IT Management, IT Strategy, Information Technology, Digital Interactive