Burnout is characterised as a condition of mental, emotional and physical depletion resulting from excessive and prolonged stress. This state typically arises when a person feels inundated by the demands of their job or duties, leading them to struggle with fulfilling the expectations placed on them in terms of time, energy and resources.
It’s easy to assume that being in the IT industry means you’re immune from burnout. Whether you’re a developer, IT support specialist, web designer, or project manager, you could assume you’ve accomplished everything. But, is it true? While you may have made significant strides, it’s crucial to remain aware of burnout symptoms and take steps to prevent it from taking hold.
Despite seeming otherwise, burnout poses a real risk to all professions, including those in Information Technology (IT). In reality, a study by Dice exposed that 31% of IT professionals acknowledged experiencing burnout.
It’s evident that burnout isn’t a trivial issue, and that it’s more likely to affect you than you may believe. As a result, if you are in charge of hiring IT personnel or ensuring their satisfaction, it’s vital to keep a close eye on this. Naturally, if you rely more on IT staffing services, you’re less likely to encounter instances of employee burnout.
So, what exactly causes burnout in the IT industry? Let’s delve into that and explore.
Perpetually Engaged in Work
For individuals employed in IT, it may appear as if there’s never a break from work. They work excessive hours both during and outside of typical business hours, which can result in burnout.
Drawing from my own experience as a remote support technician at a service management organisation, I was obligated to work forty hours within the office each week. However, there were frequently expectations that I’d work beyond the designated hours, resulting in workweeks of over fifty or sixty hours. This eventually led to me feeling mentally depleted, necessitating a weekend recovery period before the following workweek.
While it might be manageable during your younger years, as you age, those work hours can easily accumulate and result in severe burnout.
This indicates that for every ambitious and young IT professional, mastering the ability to say “no” is a critical skill.
Even though working just forty hours a week (inclusive of paid time off), there is still a considerable amount of work to complete. IT departments frequently find it challenging to focus their efforts as they must handle an expanding list of tasks, ranging from server and router maintenance to database and PC management. It’s crucial to remember that the functioning of a business relies on the efficiency of the IT department, and therefore all these tasks must be handled efficiently.
When a company undergoes a significant change, this may become a bigger issue. For instance, consider if your company is shifting from a closed-source to an open-source solution. This will necessitate a significant amount of work, beginning with planning and continuing through staging, development, and eventual deployment. It’s probable that issues will surface at each stage of the process.
As an employee, it’s your responsibility to keep all of your superiors, colleagues, suppliers, and clients informed and in-the-know. Additionally, you may find yourself tasked with extra paperwork to arrange, organise, and streamline operations in addition to performing the labour itself. If you try to maintain this level of effort consistently, you’re likely to become overwhelmed and underperform eventually.
You may have a fondness for interacting with individuals and take pleasure in making them laugh. However, there are two categories of people you may encounter in the IT sector who could deplete your energy at a quicker rate than anyone else.
- Intended Audience
Unfortunately, it’s commonplace for owners to have the ultimate authority on any given matter. While this may not be problematic in usual circumstances, issues arise when many proprietors lack adequate technological knowledge. Despite their lack of understanding, they often strive to give the impression of being in complete command. This not only results in them providing advice, but may also lead to them insisting on specific actions even when it’s apparent they are not feasible.
Nevertheless, it falls on your shoulders to bring about X.
It’s akin to being compelled to repeatedly bash your head into a wall.
At the other end of the spectrum are consumers. Though they may not intend to create difficulties for you, they do so unintentionally. You may often find yourself tasked with removing malware because a user has installed a malicious add-on (for instance, a Chrome extension providing discount coupons) or because they have forgotten their login information (once again). End-users can necessitate that you dedicate time to non-essential activities, such as migrating servers or securing a network, rather than concentrating on truly crucial tasks.
It’s not just external factors that can result in issues. Disagreements within your unit amongst yourself, your colleagues, the administrators, and the developers can also arise. It’s vital to bear in mind that conflicts are a common aspect of working life and should be approached in a polite and professional manner.
People. They are unavoidable and a leading factor in burnout within the information technology sector.
The Information Technology industry is continuously changing and progressing, making it crucial to remain current with the latest developments. Just as you feel you have gained knowledge and comprehension of the most recent technologies, the industry may undergo a shift, necessitating a re-evaluation and fresh start.
It’s astonishing to contemplate the swift progress of containers; they have evolved from managing solitary containerised applications to supervising mammoth Kubernetes clusters. Additionally, security is always a major apprehension. As soon as you believe your systems and network to be secure, a fresh attack arises, and you’re returned to the starting point.
In the IT sector, it’s crucial to stay ahead of the game and stay abreast of new technologies and developments. Sadly, this often demands investing your own time and resources into learning and staying up to date without necessarily being compensated for your efforts. Therefore, it’s crucial to allocate sufficient time and effort to self-education in order to stay competitive in this ever-evolving industry.
Burnout is a Genuine Threat That Needs Continuous Monitoring.
Burnout is an exceptionally real issue in the IT industry, and the above are merely some of the most frequent causes. There may be other aspects that might add to burnout that you have yet to contemplate. Despite the possibility of burnout, working in IT can also be exceptionally gratifying, and it’s crucial to acknowledge that burnout can transpire and take the requisite measures to care for yourself.