Insecurity and stress making life miserable for U.S. IT workers

Dec 08 2005 by Nic Paton Print This Article

Job insecurity, unreasonable workloads and stress are contributing to IT workers in the U.S becoming increasingly unhappy, restless and inclined to switch jobs, according to new research.

A study by consultancy ISR found job stress was a problem for more than half of all U.S IT workers, with the 51 per cent figure reported 10 per cent greater than that reported by the overall U.S workforce.

A total of 53 per cent of those polled said their workloads were excessive, compared with 39 per cent of the U.S workforce as a whole.

Worryingly for the industry, the number of IT workers who said they would seriously consider leaving their company had increased to 25 per cent from the 16 per cent recorded in 2004.

Job stability was another growing concern among IT workers.

Just 57 per cent of those polled felt sure they would continue to have a job as long as they performed well.

By comparison, 68 per cent of the overall U.S working population reported confidence in keeping a job as long as they performed well.

A total of 57 per cent of IT workers were worried about being laid off within the next year, compared with 47 per cent across the board.

Even more troubling, said ISR, was the finding that just 33 per cent of IT workers were unworried about the consequences of a corporate reorganisation.

"These responses reflect the growing perception that companies view the IT function primarily as a cost-centre instead of as a source of innovation that delivers a competitive advantage," said Dr Gary Berger, executive director of ISR.

"As the trend of outsourcing continues to gain momentum and the tough economic conditions of recent years continue to fade, it has created a perfect storm that could lead to higher turnover among IT workers as the U.S. economy continues to gain strength," he added.

The perception that IT jobs were at risk for outsourcing could also have been responsible for the steady decline in IT workers' belief that their employers rewarded innovation, said ISR.

This number had declined from 64 per cent in 2001 to 46 percent in 2005.

In a separate study research company has projected that 30 per cent of traditional professional IT services jobs will be delivered from emerging markets by 2015.

ISR project director Dr Michael Sokol argued that U.S companies could still re-engage IT workers.

"This can be accomplished through a variety of means, first by providing clear communication about how IT contributes to a company's success," he said.

"Second, by showing a clear career path and making available the training and development needed for IT workers to pursue that career," he added.

Other methods for maintaining a productive work-life balance included the ability to promote a strong workplace management culture, said Dr Sokol.