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Are Employers Taking Advantage of Their Loyal Tech Employees?

Are employers of IT pros taking advantage of their employees? The answer is "Yes," suggests a survey of IT pros by TechRepublic. Indeed, technology workers indicate they're having difficulties striking a balance between work and home life.

Patty Cronin or Liz WarinCorporate Technology CommunicationsPhone: 312-832-9300pcronin@ctcomm.comlwarin@ctcomm.com
TechRepublic Survey Suggests that the Answer is “Yes,” as IT Pros Find It Hard to Strike Life/Work Balance
LOUISVILLE, Ky, March 19, 2001—Are employers of information-technology professionals taking advantage of their employees? The answer is “Yes,” suggests a survey of IT pros by TechRepublic, the leading online site developed exclusively for IT professionals by IT professionals. Indeed, technology workers indicate they’re having difficulties striking a balance between work and home life. 

TechRepublic surveyed 3,900 IT professionals online at www.techrepublic.com as part of an ongoing study of the “pervasive workplace.” The pervasive workplace refers to the ability to work anywhere and anytime, thanks to technologies such as cell phones and personal digital assistants (PDAs).

The fact that IT pros spend long hours working isn’t new; tech workers are known for working longer hours than many other employees. That work ethic has triggered the common stereotypes of IT pros enjoying midnight pizzas and catching a few hours of shut-eye under their desks in order to meet deadlines. 

The survey suggests that many IT pros have an extra-long workweek. Eighty-one percent of IT pros surveyed work 40 to 60 hours a week, 8 percent work 60-to-70-hour weeks, and 3 percent work more than 70 hours weekly. Only 7 percent say they work 30-to-40-hour weeks, and just 1 percent work less than 30 hours weekly.

Providing evidence of the effects of the pervasive workplace on the lives of IT pros, the TechRepublic survey also indicates that 77 percent of respondents believe being successful in their job requires them to work more than 40 hours a week.

Two out of three IT pros responding believe they work too much, and many reported that this feeling of being overworked reflects an imbalance between their personal and professional lives. Eighty-one percent said this lack of balance causes stress in either their personal or private lives or in both. 

The survey also points out that IT pros think their employers are to blame for the long hours at work. Forty percent say the main reason they work over 40 hours a week is that their organizations are understaffed, and 18 percent contend their management doesn’t understand how much time a task takes. Other respondents cited reasons such as unqualified coworkers.

Employers also don’t seem to be compensating IT pros for their extra time at work. Perhaps this finding suggests that a high percentage of IT pros are salaried employees. Fifty-six percent of the respondents say they’re not compensated at all for the extra hours they spend at work, while just 12 percent say they get overtime pay. Others responded that they received compensatory time off when they worked overtime, and others received their hourly wage for overtime.

The survey also found that IT pros have a hard time leaving their work at the office. Sixty-four percent of respondents say they work from home at least one hour per week, and more than 75 percent report they carry a communication device to remain in contact with the office outside of regular work hours.

 “As businesses today look to further streamlining operations, demands on the IT pro will continue to rise,” said Bob Artner, vice president of content development at TechRepublic. “The jobs that IT pros do are central to the success of today’s enterprise and should not be underappreciated. Our members are telling us that the demands of the job are incredibly trying on their professional—and personal—lives.”

“The 40-hour workweek no longer exists for the IT professional—and that’s not necessarily in the best interest of the IT pro or their organization,” added Artner.

The pervasive workplace appears to have the greatest impact on IT managers. According to a separate TechRepublic survey, IT managers believe they work longer hours than both their subordinates and their bosses. Additionally, nearly 10 percent of IT managers report they work more than 65 hours per week.

The pervasive workplace survey elicited many comments from tech workers. Decrying the no-overtime-pay issue, one TechRepublic member said, “I just find it very disturbing that the ‘warriors’ haven’t gotten anything in return for the very hard work most of us do on a daily—hell, almost hourly—basis (thanks to the wonderful world of pagers, cells, wireless Palms…). Damn technology.” Another IT worker said he now informs employers that he will “give 40 hardworking hours a week and overtime on rare occasions. And I give them my reasoning: My time at home with my wife and son is my most valued commodity.”

This survey was conducted in February as part of TechRepublic’s monthlong series of articles and online discussions on the pervasive workplace. Throughout the month of March, TechRepublic will run a series on the issue of “doing more with less.” This series will focus on how IT pros and their departments must continue to offer the same level of technical advancement and support in light of the current spending crunch IT companies are facing.

About TechRepublic
TechRepublic is the leading online destination developed exclusively for IT professionals by IT professionals. It was acquired by Gartner, Inc., (NYSE: IT and ITB) in March 2000. With the Gartner relationship, TechRepublic provides its members with the largest and most comprehensive source of IT community, content, and research available anywhere. TechRepublic’s services include IT industry news, analysis, columns, articles, downloads, career-management tips, forums, a job directory, a peer directory, a vendor directory, auctions, e-commerce offerings, event listings, and electronic newsletters.

IT job segments categorize content on TechRepublic's Web site. CIO Republic provides analysis and insight for an organization’s chief information officer, chief technology officer, and other IT executives; Developer Republic features in-depth information specifically for the needs of enterprise developers; IT Consultant Republic features content specifically tailored to today’s IT consultant; IT Manager Republic provides information and resources for IT managers; Support Republic’s solutions assist help desk professionals; and NetAdmin Republic features content written specifically for network administrators.

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