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IT admins: Stressed, sick and looking for a new career?

A survey paints a depressing view of life as an IT administrator.

Two-thirds of IT administrators have considered switching careers due to job stress, with their managers and end users the cause of most of the pain.

According to a survey, two out of three IT admins find their job stressful - and many are overworked, with one in three claiming they put in 10 hours or more of overtime during an average week,

IT admins listed the top three sources of stress as management, users and tight deadlines.

Incompetent users and having to field their bizarre helpdesk calls have put additional strain on IT workers, according to the survey - for example, calls from users who did not realise their computers needed a power source to work, and users who had knowingly downloaded the same piece of malware on several occasions.

Workers at smaller companies seem to suffer less stress: just over half of IT admins at companies with between 10 and 49 employees said their jobs are stressful, compared with 84 per cent of IT workers at companies of between 50 and 99 employees

Four out of five said working in IT has affected their personal lives, such as forcing them to miss social functions.

But more worryingly, nearly a third said they have experienced stress-related health issues such as high blood pressure.

According to the survey of 201 IT admins in the UK by GFI Software, managers in London-based offices cause the most stress for IT admins, while users in Scotland are the most stressful to deal with. Meanwhile, IT admins in Yorkshire are apparently the most stressed in the country.

About

Steve Ranger is the UK editor of TechRepublic, and has been writing about the impact of technology on people, business and culture for more than a decade. Before joining TechRepublic he was the editor of silicon.com.

17 comments
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131313ontanez-24472904060645141771750399938085

I don't know what wage or occupation that you are actually pursuing. You may want to look into staffing and recruiting services. From my own experience I can say that the coordinators of most of the companies that I have been employed through have went the extra mile to either find an employment opportunity or offer you a temporary contract with whatever clients that they had outsourcing employees for. Human resources , job placement, even transportation, is provided at some of them. And there are so many that specialize in different industries. You are probably looking for something in IT Here's a list of links http://www.roberthalftechnology.com/ http://www.ranstad.com/ http://www.manpower.com/ http://www.teksystems.com/

JohnMcGrew
JohnMcGrew

...that this would be the greatest career if only one could find a way to do it without having users.

eman08
eman08

It's better to be either a Software Engineer, Software Developer, Web Developer, Web Applications Developer, Programmer, Embedded Developer or a Mobile Applications Developer because you have the ability to work from home or anywhere. Developer jobs are more flexible and less stress. Of course you have deadlines to meet and make sure your code is neat and readable verified and debugged. You just don't have to deal with end users support and management. Or rephrasing it"You don't have to deal with frustrated people and trouble shooting computers." Nor you are tied down to your desk every day or on-CALL duty". Developers work schedule are more flexible than Network, Database or Systems Administrators.

security101
security101

The problem with IT in the USA is that in very large corporations, like where I work, every manager has a personal agenda. Their position is always a stepping stone to "something bigger and better". Americans can never be satisfied with what we have. A manager will burn an entire team out trying to meet impossible goals & deadlines all to make herself look good to senior leadership.

stevenandre
stevenandre

Same story in the Netherlands. I was sick for almost a 1/2 year...

abasi_obori
abasi_obori

The response to this survey could have easily been mine. In my unit in the I.T dept where I work I am the only on left out of a four man strong systems team!! My boss (well that is a different matter altogether) doesn't seem to be sensitive to this fact because 'our budget is not in good shape' Recently my BP is hovering around mild HBP. God help me!!!!!

dl_wraith
dl_wraith

Most of our economies are hovering around the toilet rim threatening to fall in. Everyone is cutting back and companies are no exception. This is certainly leading to IT teams having to do a lot more with less and our IT colleagues are picking up responsibilities b the bushel without the tech, training or experience to deal with them effectively. Companies feel they can't afford the tech, training or people to get stuff done and IT teams don't feel they have enough tech, training or people to do the job properly. Ne'er the twain shall meet. This is leading to stress all around. Company management stress about how they can get stuff done and worry about how hard they push their tech teams. Tech teams worry about how far they'll get stretched before people and systems snap and break. We need to lower our expectations a bit and eliminate some of the pressure by being more realistic given the current economic atmosphere. There's only so much we can do with the resources at hand and the quicker we all realise this the less stressed our IT teams (and their managers and stakeholders) will be. I predict this will only get worse though. IT is usually a place that gets squeezed - after all, if a tech can manage and maintain technology X then why not get him/her to do technology Y (and Z. And A, B and C) at the same time? (And E) It's all the same anyway, right? (And F and G) Far too often misunderstandings about how the job actually works and the effort really required for smooth operations leads to management teams assuming that you can stretch IT teams that little bit thinner to find the coverage you need. Think of IT as the rubber band that holds your newspaper bundle together in the morning. Try to get it to cover too much info and.....SNAP! Page three all over your lawn. And you don't want your neighbours seeing that you've got a copy of 'The Sun' hidden inside your 'Guardian' or 'FT' now, do you? (Personal note. I'm living the dream myself. Recently I pulled an very unusual 31 hour shift thanks to serious failures offsite and yesterday there was another more typical 14.5 hour shift for an solo installation. Last month I pulled over 44 hours in overtime and I wasn't even able to claim for all the hours I actually did. Stretched thin? Yep, indeed. Until expectations lower or resources are increased this situation will continue for us all)

vgh
vgh

I've been in IT for almost 10 years now and have dealt with a lot of stress. I've learned to realize that a lot of things that cause it are out of my control, yet FEAR takes over making more stress: What if I get fired? What if I can't take it and have to quit? What if? I recently worked for a large enterprise that starts with an A and ends with an N and I hated it. Was losing sleep, commuting 3 hours a day round trip for a job I hated, so I had to quit. Now my current job keeps my underemployed and I'm bored a lot of the time with less pay and benefits. But I'm close to home with no more commute and less stress. Worth it? Hell yeah. To learn how to deal with fear better, you should check out the latest post on budowriter.com

cchandima
cchandima

Dear friends I am totally agree with you but these all are depend on the peoples who are going to administrate us.As a IT admin I had the same experience with our Manager, the reason is he is getting fired if any requirement came,then he is starting to talk to all the IT guys and asking the details,gathering ,asking from all of his friend and trying to advice us as he knows.But the real situation is we have the solution what he wants.But he is putting the pressure under us and trying to do other things that are not related to the situation.finally the result is odd and we are getting scolded due to the result... But i have worked with some of the few dearest department heads.They are well understanding and good administrators... our careers stress is based on the our heads...not on the position...

ittechexec
ittechexec

So if it's just too stressful where you're at, how do you go about planning a career change? For starters, you want to do it while you're still employed. Technical recruiters don't really work with those in the ranks of the unemployed, and many companies spurn those candidates as well. Then think about whether you want a total career change, to move to a different type of IT role, or just looking to go to a company with a different corporate culture. That will help in determining your "brand" and making it real, as well as in putting together a focused job search strategy. For a comprehensive approach to the whole process, I'd suggest the following blog post http://mdalums95.wordpress.com/2012/04/12/job-search-management-lifecycle/

reisen55
reisen55

WE are horribly stressed, in effect acting as IT admins for many of our clients and having to know the inside and out of their individual networks. A corporate life may involve a larger network but it is ONE network. As a consultant, I have to keep a mental rolodex of my networks and how each and everyone of them works. FAR more difficult in some ways.

kgsoft
kgsoft

I have worked in IT for 28 years and I am a strong character. I have always been a leader and managed a support team for most of that time. I have only ever worked for 2 companies in my entire working career (so I must have been doing something right). My last position involed supporting 200+ stores and an outsourced warehouse and call centre as well as the head office location. This included all systems and telecommunications across the board. However last June my manager decided to leave the company (she was an amazing and fair manager) and was replaced by a temporary manager on a 6-9 month contract basis. This guy came in and within 2 weeks both of our programmes left and we were all put under extreme stress with threats of restructuring and changes to the department. Prior to this we had always delivered our projects on time and our servers had a 99.98% uptime. The stress continued to grow, and we as managers were strugging. I sometimes wonder if the temporary manager was not given a specific agenda to replace people. I was one of three managers and two of us seemed to always be in the firing line and the third manager (who had only been in the company for a year or so) seem to 'hit it off' with the temporary manager and was shall we say 'the blue eyed boy'. As the situation worsened I got to the stage where I was not eating, sleeping, having palpatations amoungst other symptoms and finally I went to the doctors and was immediately put on the sick with stress and anxiety. I was put on medication and was away from work for 10 weeks. On my return to work, I carried on until February this year and was then told that all the managers jobs were at risk of redundancy, and that the temporary manager would be interviewing for the positions. In effect they renamed our existing jobs and put additional items in the job description but essentially they were the same positions. As I did not get on with this guy I knew that to apply for the new managers position would be a waste of time so I took redundancy. I had worked for the company for 20+ years. While I was off with stress I also learnt that the other manager was in such a state too that she was also on medication and attempted suicide. She resigned before the announcements were made about redundancies so she even lost out on redundancy pay. As stated previously I am a strong character and everyone I know could not believe what we had been through with this guy, but even after seeking advice about whether to challenge his actions I was advised that it would not help as the company had followed the correct guidelines. The sad thing about this is that I was very good at my job and had the respect of my team and managers of the other departments. I saved the company around ??2 million over the last 12 years on contract negotiations and enhancing systems at the right time, but now as I am 50 years old I cannot find a suitable job. I feel very sad about this as I have always been a loyal and fair employee and now I am worried about how to support my family. Kevin Greenhill. Leicester, England.

dl_wraith
dl_wraith

in my own experience I have to agree that fear is a large contributor. Fear of a poor performance review, fear of redundancy, fear of being disciplined, fear of failing audits, fear of being inadvertently responsible for an outage, fear of being sacked, fear of negative feedback, fear of the b***ockings from your managers, fear of a loss of faith from your user base....the list can go on and on and on. Fear is self perpetuating and in my own experience of working for in the UK financial services sector it's generally brought into IT departments by one thing: poor management. Don't get me wrong - I'm not suggesting IT managers are the cause. I'm saying that a failure in constructive management in the company you work in can cause this fear feedback loop and destroy the effectiveness of a lot more than your IT team. When people are frightened of those who manage them (of what they may think or do when faced with information about you as an employee) they start to act defensively and natural human paranoia constructs scenarios that may not have ever come to pass in any case. This isn't healthy and can lead to reduced performance, feeding the cycle of feedback and fear of that feedback. Transparent management, clear goals and correctly managed expectations all all great contributors to managing this fear - and therefore the associated stress. Fair practices and policies that reinforce the idea that work isn't everything (you are NOT A NUMBER!) also greatly help. Sometimes we can be our own worst enemies. 95% of the stuff you worry will happen doesn't. So don't worry (be happy! :) ) Doooooh-doh-doh-doo-do-di-dooo-dooh-do-dooooh-de-doooooh (don' worry!) Dooh-do-do-de-doooh-de-dooooh (don' worry!) Doooh-de-doooh-de-dooooh (don' worry, be happy now......)

reisen55
reisen55

I may have worked for the same large enterprise, in NYC. Let me know. If so , are you familiar with the C and the S in the center and a final C?

smckenna
smckenna

Commiserations. I now work in the US, but I had a simialr experience when I worked in the UK. One thing I learned is - it's not personal, and it doesn't matter what your performance was. I came back from medical leave and my father's funeral to a company that had just had some bad results. The apparently 'asked' a number of people to resign the previous Friday. I came back to work on Monday and was 'asked to step in the end office' when the 'executioner' rolled into the the office a few hours later. He proceeded to tell me my perfromace was the worst (a totla lie that my immediate manager agreed with me) and had the gall to tell me that if I resigned I would 'get agood reference'... This made me realise that something smelled and I asked him what the difference was between resignation and 'redundancy'. it was 1 Month vs. 3 months salary. So I told him he could fire me. Then I went to the Citizens Advice Bureau, told them the whole story and they helped me to write the appropriate letters to ensure the company sought arbitration. I could have got my job back, but I didn't want it by then. Fun Fact: The leader kept a goat in his station wagon. Hope it ate his seat - both of them. Any way. They lesson I learned from all thsi was .they use a salary report to determine who to get rid of. It doesn't matter is you laid golden eggs in the past or @#$! golden bricks for them... Hold your head up.

vgh
vgh

Kevin, I would kindly suggest you read that article in the link from ITTechExec below. I thought it was quite good and the analogy of project management and job searching works well. You can do this. Good luck.

davep.l
davep.l

I feel for you mate. I worked at a v large High School as Network Manager, but with no support except for a few of the pupils we recruited. I was working 9+hours a day, plus nearly 2 hours travelling. Same prolblems with sleep, diet, stress and finally quit, but not in time to save my marriage. Had nearly 3 years of not working (with associated stress of not being able to pay the bills etc). Now working for a great company. Not a lot of pressure but enough to make the job interesting. Oh, by the way, it's not all over at 50. I hit that milestone a couple of months ago!! Good luck..

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