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Most IT Admins Have Considered Quitting Due To Stress 397

Posted by Soulskill
from the take-note-managers dept.
Orome1 writes "The number of IT professionals considering leaving their job due to workplace stress has jumped from 69% last year to 73%. One-third of those surveyed cited dealing with managers as their most stressful job requirement, particularly for IT staff in larger organizations. Handling end user support requests, budget squeeze and tight deadlines were also listed as the main causes of workplace stress for IT managers. Although users are not causing IT staff as much stress as they used to, it isn't stopping them from creating moments that make IT admins want to tear their hair out in frustration. Of great concern is the impact that work stress is having on health and relationships. While a total of 80% of participants revealed that their job had negatively impacted their personal life in some way, the survey discovered some significant personal impact: 18% have suffered stress-related health issues due to their work, and 28% have lost sleep due to work."
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Most IT Admins Have Considered Quitting Due To Stress

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  • by jedidiah (1196) on Wednesday March 27, 2013 @03:30PM (#43296093) Homepage

    In terms of certain job expectations they are. These include longer hours and working weekends and during the 3rd shift.

    A lot of mundanes don't understand this. They hear that you've got some office job and they don't understand why you would be working those kinds of hours.

    Clueless spouses can add to the stress level. Even spouses that are part of the workforce can be ignorant and unsympathetic.

  • by MickyTheIdiot (1032226) on Wednesday March 27, 2013 @03:43PM (#43296255) Homepage Journal

    "Management" as being the worst part of I.T. fits right into my career experience.

    I've worked providing computer resources to non-technical (or at least not technical in computer areas) people during my career, and I have had a number of bosses who just would not listen. Some of it was that computer work was so outside their experience that it was magic, and if something is "magic" it takes no time or money to do. Users and management see too much stuff in I.T. as nothing more than flipping a switch because of their low knowledge level.

    For other bosses it was a more fundamental problem that's seen everywhere: management not listening to an expert when he/she says something they don't like.

    My advice to managers of all sorts: you should choose between two states with experts: trust the person you hire and listen to what he/she says or get rid of that expert. There should be nothing in the middle. You are going to lose those experts if you constantly second guess them or force them into situations that they have told you are not sustainable. Learn to listen.

  • Stress varies (Score:3, Interesting)

    by elistan (578864) on Wednesday March 27, 2013 @04:10PM (#43296559)

    I've never had a job other than IT support, so I don't know how it compares to other work, but I have had different IT support jobs with wildly different stress levels.

    On the low-stress side, picture a small shop. 50 to 100 servers, two or three admins. You know each server, what it does, what its quirks are, what external systems it talks to, you control not only the server but its storage and networking and backups, you're the dba, the webmaster, you know by name all the developers that write the code that runs on the servers, you know most of the users and all of the managers of the company by name... It's a lot of different hats, but with the limited number of systems you have enough time to pay each its proper attention. You can tweak each server individually. Only in extremely rare occasions like a failed controller on the SAN do you get called off-hours. This sort of job is fun and engaging.

    The high-stress job is from being on a team that "owns" a few thousand servers in a global corporation with a poorly set up support model - but you only has access to the OS. No ability to work on the databases or SAN, no rights to the switches or hypervisor, and when it's your turn to be on-call you are guaranteed to get calls all through the night - calls ranging ranging from hung servers that need a reboot, to performance issues that take hours and hours to coordinate troubleshooting with the SAN team that swears it's not their issue even though its several systems all connected to the same controller, users on the other side of the world having whatever issue, on systems you don't know they first thing about except its a database server or whatever because of the naming convenntion. No sleep that week, no ability to go to a movie without fear of being paged... Pure stress for the week of being on-call, and dreadful anticipation all other times.

    I was glad to have been laid off from a job like the latter during the financial crisis.

    I'll take a job like the former, even with a micro-managing, cover-sheet-your-TPS-report, the-sky-is-falling type boss, over another one like the latter any day.

  • by p00kiethebear (569781) on Wednesday March 27, 2013 @04:11PM (#43296575)

    The people who are stressed about working in IT have a valid point. But this doesn't make you any different than say... a head chef?

    Millions of blue collar workers have to survive on less than half what the average introductory IT job pays and many have to do it in an environment where they don't speak the language. Imagine going into work and having to learn the ropes your first day just by watching. I had to work in kitchens for ten years and I'm telling you the responsibilities don't end there. It's your night or day off? Too bad, the dishwasher called in sick and we have to put you in? Oh sorry we can't pay you overtime, we're just going to pay you in regular wage with cash. Oops, we're paying you too much cash because you're working too much. How about we just pay you the same ammount every month no matter how much you work? Sexual harrasment? Too bad, your boss, is the HR, your manager, and the mediator all rolled into one.

    There are literally rehab centers built specifically for chefs because thouands of them burn out and start drinking on the job to deal the with stress. If everyone else wants to go home early, or the numbers arn't right that week, your boss will send everyone else home and you have to clean the kitchen yourself.

    4% more IT workers want to quit because of stress? Boo fucking hoo. So does everyone else who has to work a shitty job with long hours. At least you're being compensated at a fair wage for the skills you've developed. You're probably being paid over time if you're by the hour and you can probably also afford to buy a house. Not to mention basic health if not full benefits. If I cut myself with a knife I have to pay cash for the 5 stitches it takes to sew it up.

    Every job that takes skill and dedication looks shitty from the inside out. But seriously? Whenever I think about quiting my job or get angry about something trivial, I remember that I'm not dodging the secret police in North Korea or Bullets in Bosnia and I realize how lucky I am to even have a job. I wish I had the skills to be an IT worker so I could at least get paid a fair wage and didn't have to go home with dishpan hands every night. But this is what I get for playing more video games in college than doing actual work. Ultimately we're all masters of our own destiny.

    Be the change you want to see in your life. I would have been a lot happier and probably drank a lot less if I was on an IT workers salary. But as far as I'm concerned, I read this headline as "NEWS FLASH, PEOPLE HATE THEIR JOBS!"

  • by Synerg1y (2169962) on Wednesday March 27, 2013 @04:42PM (#43296977)

    Life was simpler back then too... the female co-workers were also hotter.

    It's the fear of uncertainty that prevents a lot of people from quitting and the family dynamic also plays a heavy hand in it. Ultimately, you have to have confidence in yourself and a savings account to successfully quit a job you don't like... but this factors in on the 90% vs 10% competence ratio most people agree on in IT: Some people everybody wants, some people are happy anybody wants them to work for them.

    My advice is and always will be: go read some tech books and pick up relevant skills,... or go back to school. Managers tend to be happy (regardless of how they act towards you!) and that's due to the 75k happy mark.

  • by megalomaniacs4u (199468) on Wednesday March 27, 2013 @04:54PM (#43297143)

    Your resignation letter only has to say the minimum - Nixon's resignation letter, is the best example:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Letter_of_Resignation_of_Richard_M._Nixon,_1974.jpg [wikipedia.org]

    I've used the same basic letter when I've quit in the past. You may get hauled into a meeting to find out why, but you don't have to tell them anything other than you quit (if they want you to work a notice period you'll find out)

  • by nine-times (778537) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Wednesday March 27, 2013 @04:57PM (#43297191) Homepage

    It is strange, when you think about it, the way that the IT department tends to get segregated off from the rest of operations. You have companies where people do 100% of their work on a computer, where the company *can not function* when the Internet goes out, and yet IT is treated as an afterthought. The people running these companies think that running an IT department is as easy as "running out to Best Buy and picking up a computer," and then they get annoyed when their IT services are unreliable.

    I would have thought that, with as ubiquitous as computers are in business, IT work would be considered valuable. It's as though you have a company that ships things across the country by truck, but they don't think their mechanics are important, and they freak out when the mechanics want to have proper equipment for fixing the trucks. And worse, they don't think any of their truck drivers need to know how to drive. When their drivers put the truck in a ditch, they complain that the mechanics haven't made the truck crash-proof.

  • by bzipitidoo (647217) <bzipitidoo@yahoo.com> on Wednesday March 27, 2013 @05:40PM (#43297629) Journal

    None of my high paying jobs have been any fun. Seems that enjoying your job is somehow immoral. Many managers think that if you aren't stressed, you must not have enough work to do. A bigger problem is that if you're on a job at a foundering company, it doesn't matter how good your work is. The company is failing, and some will be looking for others to blame.

    The only fun job I had was a low paying one. Because it was low pay, I didn't care about being fired. Nor did I have to worry about it. Would have been easy to find a higher paying job, and they were not going to be able to easily replace me, not at that pay rate. Actually did a better job than if I had been under the gun.

    The most stressful job I ever had was one in which the project didn't just fail, it never got off the ground because the various factions were too busy fighting each other to agree on what to do. All sides were slamming everyone involved. If I didn't present a plan, I got beat up for that. When I did present a plan, I got beat up on the pretext of it being inadequate, and me being too stupid to understand that it wasn't adequate. The actual reason was that the manager was a fool who felt it was necessary for his job security that the plan be his plan. Didn't address the substance of any of the ideas at all, in large part because he didn't have the competence to do so. All that mattered to him was that his name was on it. He often took others' plans, tweaked them in ways he thought made them more palatable but actually made them less credible, such as by removing time allotted to deal with various difficulties we were trying to anticipate. Naturally, he'd harshly criticize the person responsible for putting in such "negative" things. And every time the other teams tore "his" plan apart. Then it was quickly revealed that it wasn't actually his plan after all, it was someone else's plan even when it wasn't. He would of course return the favor and try to rip their plans apart. In hindsight, I should have just quit that job, it was that bad. In the end, in a desperate attempt by management to save their own necks, the lowly among us were blamed and "quitted". But it didn't work, and shortly after, the company lost the contract and they lost their jobs.

    No doubt McJobs have horrible managers, but their power and leverage is more limited. A McJob simply doesn't have the same level of responsibility, and there's not a whole lot they can credibly blame on some poor peon. Nor is the threat of wrecking your career particularly credible. When you have more responsibility, you can be criticized and blamed for more things, be more easily made into a scapegoat, and your career can be ruined. Have you ever heard of anyone going on a murder/suicide frenzy over a McJob? I haven't. Possibly the closest are the "going postal" incidents. Suicides happen with a bit more frequency in jobs with more responsibility.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 27, 2013 @05:57PM (#43297757)

    Spot on. Too many people are eager to "please" their management and afraid to be assertive. Ask - politely, firmly, and explain the rationale - for flex time if you have to work a weekend.

    If you're SO critical that being away from your desk for a day grinds the company to a halt, then:
    1) You're doing a poor job of automating your work;
    2) You've got a tremendous case for hiring an assistant (of course, if he comes in and starts doing #1 above... you might be in trouble);
    3) If you keep offering to work 90 hour weeks to be "indispensible," then your management will let you.

    First things first: Focus on item 1 above. There's probably a million things you can automate that you're not doing so right now, out of laziness, ineptitude, or simply "not having enough time":
    -- If laziness, suck it up, buttercup. If you're working 90 hours a week because you're too lazy to accomplish your work in less time, then that's your own fault. Zero sympathy.
    -- If ineptitude, start reading and hacking out some code for the minor stuff - learn as you go. Find someone senior/more knowledgeable and offer to buy them a cup of coffee and ask for their input on how to approach programming solutions to some of your problems.
    -- If "not having enough time," realize that if you're too busy mopping to shut off the water, you're going to be stuck in your current position forever, and miserable.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 27, 2013 @05:57PM (#43297761)
    Speaking as junior faculty (pre-tenure) who makes $90k, I can tell you that the stress doesn't get easier to handle. Truth is, you just have more to lose. Certainly in a job like academics, there is a precipitous drop if you don't make the tenure cut. I'd gladly take a paycut to $75k it if meant I had my nights and weekends back.
  • by nine-times (778537) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Wednesday March 27, 2013 @06:06PM (#43297839) Homepage

    If I'm the head of the department you work in, then my No. 1 job is to clear obstacles out of your way so you can do yours.

    The best boss I ever had once told me, "My job is to make sure that you don't have to worry about anything except doing your job."

    That is, if your job is to make sure the server has zero downtime, his job is to take care of the office politics, budgeting, etc. so that you can focus on keeping the servers running. Some other manager within the company decides he doesn't like you? Well that's your his job to deal with. You need a piece of equipment that won't fit into the budget? His job. HR has stupid requirements for filling out timesheets? His job. Any goddamn thing other than showing up in the morning and keeping the servers running? His job.

    Keeping the servers running? Your job.

    And he fulfilled his job description. My job at the time was a fair bit more complicated than "keeping the servers running," but the point is that I had a job description, and I didn't have to deal with anything that fell outside of that job description. And do you know how I knew what my job description was? My manager made it very clear, because it was his job. He didn't want me to spend my time trying to figure out what I should and should not do. He made it clear that if I was unsure what I should be doing, I should ask him because if I'm confused, then he's not doing his job.

    Now that's a goddamn manager. I miss that guy.

  • by jacobsm (661831) on Wednesday March 27, 2013 @06:44PM (#43298133)

    A stranger came to visit Chelm, together with his very old, very skinny cow. The mayor of Chelm insisted the stranger stay in his home during that time and even made room in his own barn for the cow. The stranger was a little worried about being in a strange town, so, he hid his gold in the straw in the barn under his cow.
    The next morning, the mayor walked into the barn to care for his animals, and he noticed the gold in the straw. He figured out that this cow, unlike all other cows, gave gold instead of milk. He was very excited!! He called a special meeting of the Chelm Town Council and insisted that they buy the cow from the stranger. They collected money from all the citizens in town. The mayor asked the stranger if he would be willing to sell the cow, and he offered double the usual price for a good milk cow. The stranger started to protest that the cow wasn't worth that much, but the mayor misunderstood and increased his offer. The more the stranger protested, the more the mayor offered. Finally, completely confused, the stranger agreed to sell. The mayor gave the scrawny cow the best stall in his barn. He fed her the very best feed in town. The next morning, the mayor approached the cow to milk her. As he started, he was very surprised to find that the cow gave...milk! And not even very good milk!! The mayor was annoyed. The stranger had sold him a cow that gave gold, but all he had gotten was milk! He reported back to the Town Council. They were angry. When they told the townspeople, everyone was furious! They decided to track down the stranger to get their money back. They found the stranger in the next town. With everyone yelling at him all at once, he had no idea what was going on, but eventually, he figured it out. He turned to the mayor and asked, "Did you feed the cow?" The mayor answered, "Of course we fed the cow! Do you think we don't know how to care for a cow?!!" The stranger answered, "Did you ever have a cow that gave gold before? Didn't you notice how scrawny she was when I came into town? There's only one way to get her to give gold... You have to stop feeding her! But, it took me weeks to teach her to not eat. This is what you have to do. Every day, feed her a little less. At the end of three weeks, you should be able to cut her down to eating nothing. The next day, milk her, and she will give gold again." The Chelmites look at the stranger, embarrassed about their previous anger at him. They return to Chelm and start the feeding regimen that the stranger told them. The cow got skinnier and skinnier, and the mayor of Chelm was very pleased. Until, one morning, on the very first day she would have gotten no food, the cow was found dead in her stall.

    The people of Chelm were, of course, very disappointed. But they always looked back nostalgically on the day when, if only their cow hadn't died, they would have been the richest town in Poland...

  • by TapeCutter (624760) on Wednesday March 27, 2013 @06:51PM (#43298195) Journal
    There is quite a lot of evidence that societies where the wealth gap is smaller (say Norway) are a happier. In other words it's not so much what you are getting, it's more about getting your "fair" share of it. Makes sense when you look at a bunch of smiling African villagers all living hand to mouth. If you follow the money = happiness theory those villagers should all be suicidal.
  • by TapeCutter (624760) on Wednesday March 27, 2013 @07:49PM (#43298615) Journal

    Life was simpler back then too

    Yep, no job seekers strees back then, every new years day some bloke on TV would play the role of a bingo caller and pull out a bunch of golf balls from a wire cage, if your birthday was written on one of the balls the military just picked you up by the testicles and dropped you into an Asian jungle. /sarcasm

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