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How to prevent a burnout in your IT employees

Job burnouts are a common problem in these days. This doesn’t mean that they should be viewed as “normal” and that “it happens”. There are solutions.

According to a 2016 survey by Robert Half Technology among more than 2500 CIOs, 81% of CIOs think the amount of pressure on tech pros is higher than it was five years ago. The workers also report a rise in stress. The 2017 IT Salary survey by ComputerWorld shows that 46% of IT employees think their job is stressful or very stressful. Even more, 18% say their job is more stressful now than it was last year.

CIOs and HRs can and should do more to help employees. Burnouts are bad for everyone – the worker feels bad, the team is put on extra strain and ultimately the entire company is missing out. You can’t change the nature of the job. Many IT pros are and will continue to work under tight schedules, long hours, high expectations and so on.

Burnout extinguishers

But that doesn’t mean you can’t do anything. Andy Takacs, the CTO at cloud services provider Zumasys for example says to watch the clock. He and his team encourage the employees to take time off and not let them overwork themselves even when they are highly motivated and eager to work long hours. Sometimes he and other manages even have to use “force” like saying to the overworking employees they would even cut their access to the email.

Another problem is the never ending work cycle. “There’s no sense of completion in the world of IT,” says Craig Kapper, RHT’s district president for the U.S. Southwest. So, Joel Jacobs, vice president and CIO at Mitre wants the staff and managers to have realistic goals. If you always chase the end goal, you may feel like you’re not getting anywhere. And that’s a huge factor for burning out.

So, restructuring the workload, setting more realistic goals and timelines, so that they are met often, brings out that motivation and lowers the stress of always chasing something. Instead, the employees will feel like they are actually accomplishing something with their work. Another good way is to break a major goal into several smaller goals. Ones that are achievable easier and sooner and are a part of the big one. For example, you’re working on a new app. You can split the goals down to getting the front-end done by X, the back-end by Y. Then there would be several other smaller goals for the front-end and several other for the back-end.

Different approach

You can also restructure the typical workday. When it looks and feels like it’s become more of a endless daily grind, it’s time for a change. This can be done in a variety of ways. For example, you can change their responsibilities, you can offer them work on new or different projects. Others might prefer more flexible work hours or the opportunity to work from home. The key is to communicate with the employees and see what they would like to do to change things up.

This also means to give them more freedom and opportunities. Often, employees can be really stressed out because they feel they lack certain skills. Or maybe they really do need to become a bit better at their job which will make them feel even more fulfilled. This is where you again can and should talk to them about additional trainings. Make sure the employees see the trainings as a way to become even better and more skilled and not see it as a underlining message they are not doing well. Many IT employees actually do want to learn new things. If they don’t they might lose their enthusiasm and motivation which will result in a quick burnout. Give them the opportunity to learn more.

But always remember one crucial thing: each employee burnout is different and unique. Each person will have different reasons to feel the strain becoming too much. So, you should use a personal approach to each case. This will help you form a positive company culture in which the employees will feel taken care of. And this will also help foster a more relaxed setting and that will also lower the burnout rate.