Three Ways to Reduce the Stress of IT

IT professionals are feeling unprecedented levels of stress. The situation is unhealthy for those who work in IT as well as the organizations and business users who depend on them.

With technology playing an ever-larger role across enterprises, from analyzing exponentially-growing data sets to automating marketing functions to keeping remote and mobile employees productive, holding onto experienced and knowledgeable IT staff is more vital than ever.

How to reduce stress in ITYet according to recent research reported on eSecurity Planet, nearly four out of five IT administrators say they are “actively considering leaving their jobs due to job-related stress”—up from just over half of respondents a year ago. A third or more have missed social functions, time with family, and sleep, due to issues at work.

Of course, some level of white-collar stress is inevitable. But again, given the magnitude and pace of change in IT right now—from consumerization to “big data” to the high-profile importance of information security—retaining expert staff is vital. Bringing down the stress level is not only crucial for retention, but also for optimizing productivity, encouraging strategic thinking, and preventing mistakes.

How can stress be reduced? As the article notes, “providing realistic IT budgets and staffing levels” is ideal—but pressing for budget increases (particularly to hire more people) in this still-sluggish economic recovery is tough. So here are three other ideas for reducing the time demands on IT professionals.

Automate service delivery tasks. Are IT workers still manually chasing down approval signatures, scheduling resources, or entering data into long (and often redundant) online forms? Use workflow automation software in conjunction with email, calendar, and business management systems to automate approval routing and scheduling, and pre-populate forms with known data wherever possible.

Empower process owners. Instead of having business process owners describe their requirements to business analysts, who then write specifications for developers, who then write code to automate those business processes—give business managers the ability to build their own automated task workflows. Implement enterprise request management (ERM) technology that provides departmental managers with graphical tools for creating, testing, refining, and implementing their own process flows, with minimal technical assistance.

Hang up the phone, pick up self-service. Not only does self-service save money (by enabling IT help desk staff to process more issues in less time), users prefer it in most cases to using the phone. Providing employees with online tools to submit requests, and track the status of pending requests, not only deflects the initial phone call but also follow-up calls to “see where things are at.”

As the role of IT expands beyond managing business users and computing devices to all manner of digitally-connected things, the demands on IT professionals will only continue to expand. Making smart use of automation, empowerment, and self-service, among other efficiency approaches, can help IT professionals get more productive work done while decreasing destructive stress.

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