Despite continued high workloads, stress levels among IT professionals are on the decline, new research shows.
The study by GFI Software revealed that 57 percent of IT specialists are considering leaving their jobs due to workplace stress, a drop of 10 percentage points from a year ago. Overall, 67 percent of IT administrators consider their jobs stressful, down slightly from 69 percent in 2012.
The research shows that San Francisco, Denver and Philadelphia are the three cities with the highest proportions, more than 80 percent each, of IT specialists who find their jobs stressful.
"Companies are more reliant than ever on IT innovation, uptime and speed of deployment, and thus, IT staff members are under extreme pressure to deliver for the benefit of the whole business," said Phil Bousfield, general manager of IT operations at GFI Software. "While it's promising to see the U.S. survey results reflect a slight improvement in morale, it's also concerning that more than half are still stressed to the point that they are actively considering leaving their current role."
Contributing to the relatively high stress levels are the heavy job demands IT employees face each week. The study revealed that one-third of IT professionals work more than 8 hours of overtime each week, the equivalent of more than 10 weeks a year, in order to keep on top of their workloads.
The research discovered that management, lack of IT staff and tight deadlines are the top three sources of stress for IT administrators, with users contributing the least amount of stress.
"For SMBs [small and medium businesses] in particular, the research is a stark reminder that IT staff need to be supported and given the right resources to do their job efficiently – and that management needs to be an enabler, not an obstacle for IT progress," Bousfield said.
While the numbers have improved from last year, work stress still has a considerably negative impact on IT professionals' health and personal relationships. Specifically, 21 percent of IT administrators have suffered stress-related health issues, such as high blood pressure, due to their work, while 20 percent indicated they do not feel great physically as a result of stress.
In addition, 16 percent have experienced a strained or failed relationship due to work stress, and 31 percent have missed out on time with their kids because of work demands.
The study also found that nearly 30 percent of IT workers have had to cancel commitments with family and friends due to work obligations and 36 percent have missed social functions due to work issues. In total, nearly three-quarters of those surveyed think their jobs have negatively affected their personal lives.
The study was based on surveys of 207 IT administrators in U.S. companies that had more than 10 employees.