IT burnout: A productivity killer IT leaders must address

Burnout is a significant growing problem, especially in IT. And it has the potential to cripple your workforce. Here’s how to handle it.

IT burnout: A productivity killer IT leaders must address
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A silent IT productivity killer is on the rise. Negative and disengaged, IT staff members may be a drain on your organization’s efficiency and morale. But your IT pros aren’t to blame, because what they are experiencing is burnout, and it’s a significant, growing problem — as of April 2019 it now has its own distinction with the World Health Organization (WHO) as a legitimate medical syndrome. And it is an IT leader’s responsibility to help identify, prevent, and combat it.

Burnout is everywhere, but IT is hardest hit

According to WHO, burnout is a syndrome resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed. It is characterized by feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion, increased mental distance from one’s job or negative feelings or cynicism related to one's job — and reduced professional efficacy. According to careers website Dice Insights’ 2020 Dice Salary Report, 31 percent of tech pros feel “very burnt out.”  

“Burnout is a result of prolonged exposure to interpersonal, emotional and physical stress,” says Sarah Stevens, SHRM-CP and People Team senior manager at employee experience software company Limeade. “It shows up, individually, as exhaustion, cynicism and inefficacy.”

IT in particular is prone to burnout, Stevens says: “Especially in tech and in IT, you have changes in pace, changes in roles, changes in customers. But then people start to distrust and hold resentment toward their organizations if it’s not recognized and addressed. They feel like, ‘I’m not making an impact. My work isn’t meaningful and no one is helping.’”

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