How to Prevent Burnout in IT?

People working in IT are stressed all over the world – a survey by the tech magazine Computerworld reveals that 46% of the respondents think their job is either stressful or very stressful. 18% say their job is more stressful than before. And no wonder, with the long hours and endless demands IT workers have to face. What is more, they often have to respond to clients’ concerns 24/7, and be equally at home in issues related to the client’s company, but also business and management in general. Long-term stress may lead to burning out, poor results, or even quitting the job or leaving the field altogether.

Clearly, job stress cannot be avoided completely, and employees and employers have to work together to cope with it. At the same time, we know that positive workplace stress drives and motivates many people. ERPLY monitors stress levels proactively, based on signals from the workers – if an employee is distressed, deadlines are not met, single sick days pile up over a short period of time, or relationships with colleagues worsen, the direct manager will step in to find out what the reason is. If at all possible, the employee will receive help, be it in the form of revised organisation of work, different working conditions, or similar.

Honest communication is vital to dealing with occupational stress – this means people have to know when to ask for help, but the company has to create a positive culture. If signs of job stress emerge, ERPLY can offer individual working conditions for a certain period of time, like working from home or at different hours, or working in the Tartu office instead of Tallinn and vice versa.

ERPLY motivates and encourages occupational growth and specific training, offers employees competitive pay and the chance to take the next steps on their career path inside the company. Employees can choose between stimulating projects that challenge them in their work.

Training courses help stop the daily grind

The chance to participate in seminars and training courses outside the company, either taking a professional top training course abroad or a seminar at home, is beneficial either way. The employee can step out of their routine and come back with useful knowledge and new ideas.

ERPLY supports a healthy lifestyle among its team: tennis and badminton games are held several times a week, and massage and yoga sessions are available. Why bring a masseuse to the company? The occupational health doctor prescribed massage sessions to an employee to maintain their ability to work, but the employee was unable to find a suitable opening and specialist, so we brought one to the workplace. Yoga stretches address both back and shoulder problems that can stem from sedentary work, and yoga teachers give tips to employees who exercise on their own.

Events such as company outings in summertime and the Christmas party are first and foremost intended to spend time together and get to know the team. We always want the event to be engaging to both sports and culture lovers. There is no rule that says events have to take place twice a year, summer and winter; teams can relax together in a multitude of ways. Get joy from and celebrate even the smaller victories and events at work, to take on new challenges bravely as a united front.

Time spent on work is monitored

Computerworld.com writes that Andy Takacs, CTO at the US cloud services provider Zumasys, understands why IT professionals are susceptible to stress. “IT can feel like running from one sort of disaster to another,” he says. It requires a lot of people to perform at high levels to get the job done in a competitive market. Since burnout can hurt performance and camaraderie in the team, the company carefully monitors the time people put into work – employees are encouraged to take days off, and if necessary, access to email is cut off for those on holiday.

If a team has taken on an especially gruelling project or been overloaded with work for any other reason, they get extra days off, and the organisation tries to divide work so that the workload would be more balanced in the future.

Unrealistic goals create stress

Joel Jacobs, CIO at Mitre, a not-for-profit that operates federally funded research and development centres, stresses how important it is to set realistic goals. “People will work really hard, as long as they think what they’re working on is realistically achievable. If it’s relentless and unrealistic, it will just wear them down,” he says.

Concentrating on one thing can be very tiring. So it is only a good thing when people move from one project, one field and one client on to the next.

Jacobs says his workers have several ways to change up their routines. They can seek out new positions at the company, temporarily work in other divisions, or just perform their tasks in a new way.