There’s a lot to love about a career in tech.
The work is challenging. It is never routine. And, it is always in demand. It
provides great pay and lots of job security. Best of all, tech employees get to
make a real difference in the world. Tech advancements make our world better,
safer, more convenient, and more entertaining than ever before. Your IT
employees’ work has an immediate and tangible impact.
However, there’s a flip side. It’s rigorous, relentless work. The hours are grueling. The demands are seemingly ceaseless. It’s perhaps little wonder, then, that the industry is facing an impending crisis of employee burnout and attrition. This article examines the problem of burnout in the tech industry and describes strategies employers can use to curb it.
What Is Burnout and Why Does It
No matter how much your employees may love
their job, every career has its stressors. After all, when a person is
dedicated to their work and takes pride in its outcomes, they must inevitably
invest a good deal of themselves. Their time, focus, talents, and energy are all
concentrated on this endeavor.
And that, inevitably, is a drain. It takes a
physical, mental, and emotional toll. When your employees aren’t proactive in
replenishing the internal reserves that hard work pulls from, they are setting
the stage for burnout.
The challenge, though, is that burnout is not always easily diagnosed or immediately recognizable. It can manifest in a myriad of ways. Burnt-out employees may lose focus. They may become depressed, anxious, or irritable. They may also face frequent illnesses, from chronic headaches to digestive disorders to hypertension to chronic infections. The end result is often both the deterioration of job performance and an increased likelihood of employee turnover.
Why Tech Workers Are at
All workers are at risk of burnout, but those
who work in the tech industry are especially vulnerable. It’s not difficult to
understand why. The extremely rapid pace at which the industry moves and the
often high-stakes of tech projects can easily leave tech workers feeling
anxious and overwhelmed.
IT professionals are frequently asked to meet
seemingly impossible project deadlines, adhere to tight budgets, and
continuously draw on and develop highly advanced technical skills that few
outside of the industry can fathom. As such, tech workers may grapple with the
fear of failure, cognizant that failing to live up to the stringent demands of
the work, the industry, and the project may lead to costly delays, millions of
dollars of revenue losses, and even design flaws that can put the health and
safety of end users at risk.
Over time, such stressors can have a profoundly negative impact on tech employees, undermining their productivity and overall well-being. After all, there is a strong link between mental and physical health.
What Employers Can Do
As pervasive as burnout can be in the tech industry, there are things employers can do to protect their workers. The key is to be alert and proactive.
For example, though it may seem counterintuitive, offering your employees ample opportunities for paid time off and “mental health days” is a critical step in preventing burnout and boosting your business’s efficiency and productivity over the long term. In addition, offering perks such as discounted gym memberships and gift certificates for spa treatments, chiropractic care, massage therapy, and other self-care practices will support employees in managing stress and disconnecting from work during their off hours.
Nevertheless, there is only so much that a
commitment to rest, relaxation, and self-care can do. Your employees aren’t
going to take advantage of these perks if they’re laboring under an
Thus, preventing burnout among your tech
workers doesn’t end with the individual employees. You also have to be
operationally strategic. This includes ensuring that you staff your business
effectively and build teams large enough to distribute work obligations fairly
It also means not placing unreasonable demands
on your team. Excessively tight budgets and accelerated timelines are
tantamount to demanding the impossible, particularly for the most advanced
projects. To be sure, high standards and rigorous expectations may well be
motivational and aspirational. However, relentlessly lofty demands — especially
when uncoupled from tangible support — only lead to demoralization and,
Burnout is a threat to employees in any
industry. However, tech workers are especially at risk. The fast pace and
extremely high performance standards that characterize tech work mean that IT
professionals often have precious little time left to attend to their physical,
mental, or emotional well-being.
The good news, however, is that there are
things employers can do to help protect their workers from burnout. This
includes offering ample opportunities for time off, access to self-care
resources, and the cultivation of a business model that supports a healthy
work-life balance for all employees.