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Abused IT Workers Ready To Quit 685

An anonymous reader writes to tell us that new research is suggesting as many as a quarter of all IT staff in small to medium businesses have suffered some sort of abuse and are looking for careers elsewhere (PDF). "The study also found that over a third have suffered from sleepless nights or headaches as a result of IT problems at work, while 59 percent spend between one and 10 hours a week working on IT systems outside normal hours. ... The biggest cause of stress among IT staff is problems arising from operational day-to-day tasks, the survey found. Another major cause came from loss of critical data, according to Connect."
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Abused IT Workers Ready To Quit

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  • It's not so bad (Score:5, Interesting)

    by alain94040 ( 785132 ) * on Friday January 09, 2009 @06:31PM (#26392893) Homepage

    59 per cent spend between one and 10 hours a week working on IT systems outside normal hours.

    That's the problem right there: in IT, work can be endless. Saying no is key to keeping your sanity. But 2009 is not the best year to take risks. Good luck finding a job elsewhere.

    It's bad in IT, but at least you get to use your brain (to some extent) and some of it is sometimes fun. That's a start.

    Do fun stuff on the side and keep your skills current. That could become very handy sooner than you think.

    -- [] -- the community for fair entrepreneurs

    • Re:It's not so bad (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Chyeld ( 713439 ) <chyeld&gmail,com> on Friday January 09, 2009 @06:38PM (#26392991)

      As someone who migrated away from a direct IT job to an HR job that is tangentially IT related, allow me to say that I am far far happier now than when I was doing the death march for people who thought of their IT folk as "geeks" who lived for abuse and being taken advantage of.

      And my mind still gets a work out, and I still get to keep my hand in the water. And, as an extra bonus, when I go home at night. I can actually enjoy tinkering on my own projects instead of feeling as if I'm just bringing 'work' home with me.

      Yes, right now is a bad time to jump for some people. On the other hand, I also realize that as a group, those of us drawn to IT often wait too long before jumping. Don't wait for the perfect moment. Pick one and make it 'perfect'.

      • by Samschnooks ( 1415697 ) on Friday January 09, 2009 @06:57PM (#26393245)

        As someone who migrated away from a direct IT job to an HR job that is tangentially IT related,...

        All the babes work in HR!

      • Re:It's not so bad (Score:5, Informative)

        by commodore64_love ( 1445365 ) on Friday January 09, 2009 @07:07PM (#26393363) Journal

        Maybe you should have become an electrical engineer. My job's ridiculously easy, with long periods of not doing anything, while the bosses try to decide what project they want to do next.

        Or maybe that's just because I work for the defense industry. (shrug)

        • Re:It's not so bad (Score:4, Interesting)

          by Chyeld ( 713439 ) <chyeld&gmail,com> on Friday January 09, 2009 @07:27PM (#26393571)

          To be honest, EE was one of the things I was interested in early on in life. However I made the mistake of going to an engineering college for my CS degree and after spending four years putting up with the condescending attitudes of the "real engineers" (students and staff) towards CS, I resolved to never pursue any sort of career choice that would involve having to work with "that crowd" again.

          Honestly, I thought 'jocks' in high school had egos but they had nothing on these folk.

          Which, is probably a sad thing. I imagine taken out of the "Huah! We're number one cause we can do maths!" atmosphere that the university fostered, most of them would have probably turned out to be passable humans.

      • by drpt ( 1257416 ) on Friday January 09, 2009 @10:14PM (#26395021) Homepage
        I found one way to avoid abuse was to adopt a simple practice of sharpening your hunting knife at lunch
    • Re:It's not so bad (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ZygnuX ( 1365897 ) on Friday January 09, 2009 @06:38PM (#26393001)
      If there was actually a little bit more of knowledge about IT, the people who work there wouldn't be treated that badly.

      I guess one of the pitfalls is that there still exists management who believes it's all about turning the right kind of switch and everything will get fixed auto-magically.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Yeah I'm talking to you. The wannabe computer programmer who thinks they are good at computers because they can click around the computer enough times and find the reboot button and 'fix' an inherently flawed windows system. You think you're cool because you can pirate photoshop but not know anything about it, get Microsoft Office for free but have the literacy of a 1st grader when writing a paper, and get a copy of Norton Anti-virus because your inherently flawed system is useless without Administrative pr

      • Re:It's not so bad (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Larryish ( 1215510 ) <larryish@gmail . c om> on Friday January 09, 2009 @10:52PM (#26395209)

        Funny you should say that.

        Back in the late 90's I was doing some side work in vulnerability testing and a client actually asked me if there was some sort of "program that you use where you can just click a button and hack into somebody's computer".

        When I started to explain the actual process of analyzing a network from the outside, he lost interest.

        No idea why.

    • Re:It's not so bad (Score:5, Insightful)

      by drolli ( 522659 ) on Friday January 09, 2009 @07:15PM (#26393457) Journal

      In *every* Job work can be endless. In my experience (as a scientist) good management can break the endless task into sub-tasks which are doable in a reasonable time, while bad management will do the opposite. That is, shifting the responsibility for the schedule of the whole project to the lower levels. This is *extremely* stupid. If you manage a project, it is your responsibility to stay within costs, time, and promised goals. Over-hours count as costs. If not directly, then indirectly because it may drive your best workers away. Or the person who worked 40hours overtime/week the last year (good luck with replacing him/her).

      Other reasons i have seen for stress and frustration: bad information system infrastructure. For example everybody handle backups himself. That is plainly stupid. I have worked as sysadmin for a long time. And there are few things i very willingly leave to be done by experts, and one of them is backup/archiving (the other one is the mailserver...). Distributing these functions makes sese fro mthe viewpoint of your boss (since assuming you may go doe not leave them woth their pants down. They at least can sent you a mail, and from your viewpoint (you dont take additional stress if things go wrong just wo restore your capability to retrieve backups needed for recovery or e-mail to communicate). I figured that accepting certain troubles is sometimes worth it if you reduce the responsibility of a single person/admin/programmer. This includes bad code.

      Last but not least: If you are responsible you have to live with the coworkers/programmers you are given. If you have a person writing not so fancy code, let him/her work in a productive way (e.g. i had a coworker who wrote code i would call uninspired at best, and a if-then-else hell at worst, but well documented - but there where tasks when exactly that was needed - e.g. for writing instrument drivers). It is not good to force newbies in OOP to design a base class and the interfaces in a framework. This will cause additional night-shifts (and headache to everybody).

      • Re:It's not so bad (Score:5, Interesting)

        by ToasterMonkey ( 467067 ) on Friday January 09, 2009 @10:08PM (#26394985) Homepage


        Thank you, I don't feel so alone.

        That is, shifting the responsibility for the schedule of the whole project to the lower levels.

        #1 reason I want to fly
        Pushing scheduling for two projects that involve restarting _all_ in house OLTP apps & DBs (config change) and related servers (monthly, patching) onto a UNIX SA. Might not sound so scary if we weren't processing financial transactions
        Me: Everything is redundant right?
        Dev: Sometimes
        Mgmt: Do it with no downtime, everything is magically redundant, push your easy button dumbass

        Average uptime on servers: 2 years
        Time with company: less than one year

        Me: This clearly hasn't been done before, and I'm not so sure I should be testing our redundancy in the process
        Mgmt: Hey dumbass, a new partner goes live next week, don't fcsk it up

        Other reasons i have seen for stress and frustration: bad information system infrastructure. For example everybody handle backups himself.

        So true. Letting everyone do backups is the same as nobody doing backups. Every SA thinks they can do backups, but miss the entire point of it. It's not about 'doing' backups. That part is like putting parachutes on a plane or life preservers on a ship. The difference between a team of SAs and a backup admin is how they answer this one question.

        How safe are we?
        We have some parachutes
        I think our seats float
        We're not really flying that high
        Sharks don't like shallow water
        If you roll in the air, it'll soften the impact
        We can all swim
        Haven't lost anyone yet
        ------ vs. ------
        We have thirty passengers on board, sixty parachutes, forty life preservers
        and four life rafts
        a flare gun, a map, a swiss army knife, and Chuck Norris.
        You will not lose anyone

        • by jeko ( 179919 ) on Saturday January 10, 2009 @03:10AM (#26396363)

          That was just beautiful, man. Just perfect.

          The fact that you can demonstrate such an awesome grasp of this fundamental concept makes me want to vote you IT Czar.

          Seriously. I want you to go all around the world and talk to absolutely everyone and repeat that little speech. I wanna see you show up as a guest on The Daily Show. I want to see them make "Backup Plane: The Movie" I want you to wander the Earth like Johnny Appleseed and Samuel Jackson in "Pulp Fiction," getting into adventures and imparting this wisdom to all you meet.

          And then maybe, just maybe, on some faraway golden day, in a better world than the one we have now, I'll pick up my phone to hear some poor netadmin chump cry out for help and when I ask that vile bastard "Do you have any backups?" maybe, just maybe, he'll say "Yes, I took them yesterday."

          And when that glorious day comes, ToasterMonkey, I swear I will find the tallest twin peaks in the world, and dynamite the first into the shape of a toaster, and the other into the shape of a monkey, in your eternal glorious honor.

      • Doesn't work in IT (Score:4, Interesting)

        by phorm ( 591458 ) on Friday January 09, 2009 @10:22PM (#26395065) Journal

        The issue in IT, at least from my experience, is not about missing deadlines or other planning, it's about work that springs up suddenly or constantly. These tend to be because of many factors:

        a) Budget: A lot of small or mid-sized companies can't afford a huge amount of redundancy. If a server goes down, there's not a drop-in replacement for it. If you're smart there are backups, but one still has to get them up and running.

        b) Time=Money: a little different from (a) Time is money. In environments that require near 24/7 uptime, downtime means money lost, which means that you're required to get things up and running ASAP, whether it's 3:00pm or 3:00am. Often again going with small-mid businesses, you may be able to afford all the expensive resources to keep things up (this includes redundant staff)

        c) Other People: Plan all you want, but when your development team's latest project breaks a server at 1:00am, or marketing needs a last minute push, or a million other things... and you're the only one who can update or fix a live server... you're going to get a call.

        It's funny though, because my previous job in a union shop with strict hours was irritating in the opposite way. I wasn't even *allowed* to work overtime except with large amounts of paperwork, so that means cramming what you would normally do "after hours" in a rather open schedule in a small and very stressful "window"

    • Re:It's not so bad (Score:4, Insightful)

      by stewbacca ( 1033764 ) on Friday January 09, 2009 @07:40PM (#26393695)
      Outside normal hours eh? Maybe if IT professionals go into their professions not expecting 8-5 jobs, then "normal" might have a different definition?
      • Re:It's not so bad (Score:5, Insightful)

        by LingNoi ( 1066278 ) on Friday January 09, 2009 @08:48PM (#26394397)

        Which is part of the damn problem. The manager expects you to do work outside of work.

        In any other job it's unthinkable, but because of the long standing tradition of putting in more hours then expected IT workers get screwed.

        • Re:It's not so bad (Score:5, Insightful)

          by SpiderClan ( 1195655 ) on Friday January 09, 2009 @09:21PM (#26394663) Journal
          That's just not true. Accountants, lawyers and engineers are expected to work unpaid overtime if there is work that needs to be done. That's part of being a "professional" is that you do what needs to be done and you get paid by the year, not the hour.
          • Re:It's not so bad (Score:4, Interesting)

            by Money for Nothin' ( 754763 ) on Friday January 09, 2009 @11:19PM (#26395363)

            This is true. However, this culture is based (I have learned from an HR professional) on the flawed HR assumption that a salaried person is in control of their own hours, is capable of planning their own work, and so forth. It originally imagined that such professionals might work less than 40 hours/week if they were good enough.

            This is not reality: 40 hours/week is the minimum, assuming you and your co-workers are perfect and management doesn't feel like giving you extra work to do in your spare time for free.

            Hence, the fact is that labor laws need to be aggressively changed to deal with this flawed, inaccurate culture. For a variety of reasons (but mainly that he is too gutless), I sincerely doubt "Mr. Change" himself, Barack Obama, is going to do a damn thing about it.

            People in developed nations live in economies that can be described to varying degrees as "capitalist" (capitalist-enough, at least, to use a price system) -- so why are the white-collar professionals in these economies (most-notoriously those of us in the U.S., though I'm biased here) giving away their time for no extra pay?

            That is, why are we working for free? Isn't that what communists do, "for the good of the collective" (or "the good of the firm", which is a form of collective)? Out of the greedy desire to get more for less, that is what businesspeople demand of us...

            (Yes, as a salaried consultant, I work lots of unpaid overtime, with the promise of rapid title and salary increases and corporate ladder-climbing. Ultimately, I enjoy my work, but that doesn't mean I wouldn't like my free time back.)

        • Re:It's not so bad (Score:5, Interesting)

          by dindi ( 78034 ) on Friday January 09, 2009 @10:05PM (#26394965)

          Well ... yeyeyey my life sucks too and I am programming 8 hours straigh and blabla ....

          but recently I wnt to my boss and told him that I WANT to get paid for every minute I stay over and every call that comes from the office, and that I want my salary to be a raised because new year's bonus sucked and I worked my ass of for an OK salary.

          They switched me to an hourly pay and got a %25 raise.

          I guess your balls need to drop and then stand up for yourself.

          Needless to say I stay extra hours and when shit breaks they call me. Also I fix problems in other departments even though I am a programmer (networking, unix, DBs (mysql mostly) and sometimes help with OSX machines too)....

          But at least I get paid for it now....

    • by Drakin020 ( 980931 ) on Friday January 09, 2009 @08:10PM (#26394059)

      You can't always say no.

      I literally was up until 3:30am last night. During that day our SAN's SPS went offline and as a result, write cache was disabled on our SAN. This affected our file server and it would lock up, resulting in users locking up.

      So I had to stay up late with Dell trying to get it fixed. What would have happened if I had said no? I would have to deal with all the problems in the morning, and listen to it from over 100 users.

      Sometimes you just can't say no. But to make matters worse, once you give your boss the notion that you will work outside of business hours, they will expect you to do it more.

      Much like getting a business phone...When I first hit the industry, I thought getting a work phone would be awesome!...Now? Because I checked my email so much outside of work, they expect a response out of me when they send an email.

      • by dave562 ( 969951 ) on Friday January 09, 2009 @09:31PM (#26394745) Journal
        When you work that late, you should work out a compromise with your boss. "Since I was up until 3:30am last night, I'm going to take off at lunch twice nice week." Or, "I'm going to take next Friday off." In a well run IT shop, you will always have some down time. When the systems are working as they should, your work load should be relatively light. Those periods of light work should offset those infrequent occurrences of putting in serious overtime. If you find yourself putting in overtime frequently, either stop consulting ;), start looking for a job in a shop where they know what they are doing, or figure out how to get yourself promoted around the person who has no clue what they are doing, and are therefore contributing to you having to work lots of overtime.
    • Re:It's not so bad (Score:5, Insightful)

      by try_anything ( 880404 ) on Friday January 09, 2009 @09:35PM (#26394775)

      Saying no is key to keeping your sanity.

      And saying "no" is not something that geeks enjoy, because it takes a certain ability to withstand emotional games that geeks aren't good at. A common reason that geeks (including me) are attracted to scientific and technical endeavors is that we're socially a bit obtuse and aren't good at getting other people to appreciate us. We yearn for objective and scrupulously fair evaluation. We don't want to argue about our performance; we want it to speak for ourselves. It's even better to be alone with the computer: the computer is scrupulously fair.

      We try to excuse ourselves from normal social maneuvering and rely entirely on our intelligence, competence, and ultimately, our good work. Unfortunately, that doesn't work when dealing with people who are angry, fearful, and willing to trample other people. And who isn't willing to trample on the lowly IT geek? Who isn't angry and fearful in an IT crisis?

      When a geek encounters aggression, unfair accusations, and outrageous demands, his response to the social stress is to withdraw (leaving the accusations unchallenged) and fall back on his technical skills (by working overtime to fix the problem.)

      The geek might try to stick up for himself by using facts and logic, but his aggressor will just become more aggressive and insulting. The aggressor understands the audience (bystanders and management) better than the geek and is able to snow them with indignation and misrepresentation, leaving the geek feeling shamed, embarrassed, and sorry that he stuck up for himself. What is his refuge? Demonstrating his ability with a scrupulously fair audience: the computer. So he works overtime to fix things for the guy who just abused him.

      I've never worked an IT job, but I've experienced this as a software developer for a very small company. I no longer work there, and they still pay me a retainer and frequent consulting fees because they haven't managed to entirely replace me :-) Line up a better job and QUIT! Easier said than done, I know. Good luck to everyone stuck in that position. Read a few books like this one [], work on sticking up for yourself, and keep it cool.

  • by Yvan256 ( 722131 ) on Friday January 09, 2009 @06:36PM (#26392961) Homepage Journal

    The number of BOFH increased significantly in 2008.

  • Obviously... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by HerculesMO ( 693085 ) on Friday January 09, 2009 @06:37PM (#26392981)

    These 'small and midsize' businesses don't have the staff to hire a DBA, a sysadmin, a helpdesk guy -- you're it. You're the jack of all trades.

    It's rather logical to think you're going to get abused, because the same person who is fixing SQL queries is now known to be the helpdesk guy, and unfortunately can't keep up with the work.

    That said, I've been there. And working 80 hour weeks, I had enough, and moved to a large, massive corporation with good job deliniation. Not only do I learn more because I have the time, I work 40 hours a week (barely) and make far more money with better benefits.

    Just a reminder folks, work to live, don't live to work. There is no such thing as a 'dream' job, because at the end of the day you'll always want more, best to find a job that allows you to live your life to the fullest and provides you a good salary as a bonus :)

    Cheers and good luck to those out of work in '09, it's shaping up to be a tough year.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      I know people who love to work those 80 work weeks in exchange for the freedom to do updates on the live server whenever they wanted without going through 20 different hoops and having manager approval. For some people, the job is its own reward when they're able to set the terms. I'm not one of those people, of course, but they are out there and they get happiness out of the situation.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by CrazyTalk ( 662055 )
      You obviously do not work at Microsoft, where (depending on your department) 40 hours means you just finished Tuesday. Point is, larger company does not always translate into longer hours (and vice-versa) - it depends on the corporate culture.
    • Re:Obviously... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by religious freak ( 1005821 ) on Friday January 09, 2009 @07:15PM (#26393453)
      Agreed. I talk to IT folks that work at small companies, and I just don't understand why anybody would work in a small company. (Though I've got to say, I'm glad they do, otherwise I'd have a lot more competition)

      I have a good, stable job with the occasional overtime, plenty of opportunity to grow, great benefits and good pay. I talk to those that work in small companies, and it's exactly the opposite.
      • by khasim ( 1285 ) <> on Friday January 09, 2009 @07:37PM (#26393665)

        At least they do for a certain type of personality.

        While you are responsible for EVERYTHING, that means that you get to set up everything the right way. Your way. If there's a problem, you can fix it the right way.

        As long as you can put up with the salary and hours, the job should be a cake walk.

        • by Arterion ( 941661 ) on Friday January 09, 2009 @09:08PM (#26394557)

          While you are responsible for EVERYTHING, that means that you get to set up everything the right way. Your way. If there's a problem, you can fix it the right way.

          How I wish this were true. You have to do things the bosses way. And if you work for a small company, the boss is probably so hard-set in his entrepreneurial control-everything mindset that you spend more time cleaning up messes than you do actually making progress. He won't ask you what he should do, he'll make some spontaneous, completely uninformed decision and order you to do it -- trying to be circumspect, like you must in this line of work, is considered insubordination.

          What's worse is that you're often viewed with contempt because you alone know about a super-critical aspect of the business. People don't like to feel helpless, or at the mercy of another, ESPECIALLY small business owners. Sure, someone else could come in and fix it, but not on short order. And in small business, even a day or two of downtime can break the books.

          It's twice as hard for half the pay. It has its benefits, but I wonder if they're really worth it on almost a daily basis.

          • by dave562 ( 969951 ) on Friday January 09, 2009 @09:43PM (#26394813) Journal
            This is the attitude that I see the most. I recently was offered a job at a small company and I declined it. The question that I asked the recruiter was, "Do the owners of the company see the IT department as an enabler that will make their business better, or do they see it as a cost center that they have to put up with?" The guy was honest with me and told me that getting them to spend money on IT always required a lot of arm twisting. To quote him, "The owner of the company looks at each dollar spent on IT as one less dollar of profit for his company." I declined the position. If my first job hadn't been for a small company, and I hadn't seen my boss struggling with management for every necessary expense, I probably wouldn't have known to ask the question I asked. The only benefit I can see from working at a small company is that once you get everything running, your job should be on cruise. It might take a year or two to get to that point, but once you're there, it will be easy street. The reason I quit my first job is because I got bored. There literally wasn't anything to do because management didn't want to spend money on IT. Everything was running smoothly and other than the occasional problem with a workstation drive crashing or something, my days were devoid of challenge. Like someone else said, it depends on your personality. If you want to work hard and be rewarded accordingly, a small company probably isn't the best place to work (unless the company is going to be growing a lot). On the other hand, if you're good at IT but want to have a life outside of work, a small company might be good for you. FWIW, I settled for an in between medium. After consulting for 8 years I now work at a moderate sized non-profit ($15 million a year budget), 250 workstations, 15 servers. I'm salary and work about 30 hours a week.
        • by h3llfish ( 663057 ) on Friday January 09, 2009 @10:42PM (#26395153)
          I currently work for the smallest company that I've ever been employed by - 3.5 people (no, one is not victim of a shark attack, he's part-time). And it's been a blast. I'm never bored, and I'm adding tons of stuff to my resume.

          Sure, there are stressful moments, where I am definitely out of my normal comfort zone. But I prefer it to the mind-numbing boredom of doing the same task again and again, as I did when I worked for a large company.

          That said, while smaller companies are usually better, small companies can suck too - especially when they are losing money. When I worked for a company with 40 people, I still had no autonomy, no diversity of tasks, no learning of new skills, and I was routinely asked to work long hours for no extra pay. So rather than working for a small company at all costs, I'd say work for a successful company.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Miguelito ( 13307 )

        My first computer related job (early 90's) was at a small company (maybe 40 people in the office) and I really liked it. This was long before I was anything close to a real sysadmin, but I was basically the only "computer guy" (not really even IT, hell "IT" wasn't a term yet IIRC). I'd lean to the culture being the more imprtant factor then size.

        The pluses a smaller place can have if it has the right culture and atmosphere is that you're more like a family and much better communication around the place.


      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Kidbro ( 80868 )

        I talk to IT folks that work at small companies, and I just don't understand why anybody would work in a small company.

        I work for a small company because when my CEO behaves like a complete fucktard, I can actually walk straight into his office and tell him that... he's behaving like a complete fucktard.
        I used to work for a company with 120k employees. I could not do that, and it was frustrating as hell.

        There are loads of other benefits/freedoms in similar vein.

      • Re:Obviously... (Score:4, Interesting)

        by tverbeek ( 457094 ) on Friday January 09, 2009 @10:59PM (#26395251) Homepage
        I've done tech work in organizations of a few sizes, and found the bigger tech departents increasingly frustrating to work in. The company is going to get a _____, and that sounds like a fun project to work on, but that falls under the _____ group, so you don't get to. And they're going to replace the _____ with some new gear, but you aren't on the committee deciding what to get, so you have to live with whatever they pick.... And so on. Metaphors involving small cogs and big machines come to mind.

        On the other hand, I've been part of some tech departments of just a few people, and there's been so much more opportunity to learn and grow. Sure, it means you get stuck doing grunt work like crawling under desks and changing toner cartridges, but a job where I get to design and build the web site, select and install the mail system, configure the standard user desktop settings, plan and spec out the server room, write the training materials and teach the users, map out the IP addressing scheme and assign names under DNS, diagnose and repair workstation problems, implement the backup strategy ... what a great job description! Granted, it's not all sunshine and roses, and I could go on at length about the down side of working in a small shop. It depends a lot on finding the right (small) group of people to work with. But for someone who considers "jack of all trades" just a pejorative term for "renaissance man", it can be a great environment to work in.

        (And if there's anybody in West Michigan who thinks they could use (not abuse) someone like that, drop me a line.)
    • Re:Obviously... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 09, 2009 @07:28PM (#26393583)
      I've taken a lot of abuse as an IT employee. I worked 60 hour weeks without overtime pay. I did whatever I was asked to do. And I never quit. But I did start pointing out (in very diplomatic terms) that I was being abused. At which point I was fired.

      It'd be nice to end this story by pointing out how much happier I am now. But that's hard to say when I'm working part-time at a job I was qualified to do 20 years ago, because that's the best replacement job I can find. It's little wonder that workers are abused when the employers hold all the cards.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by TheMCP ( 121589 )

      I've worked in IT, and been an IT manager, in both small and large organizations. My experience is, both types of organizations are abusive to their people, sometimes in different ways. The small organizations tend to overwork their people, paying for inadequate numbers of people but expecting them to provide world-class service as if they're a Fortune 500 corporation. The big organizations tend to turn into Dilbert-land, with pointy-haired bosses torturing everyone with the stupid management paradigm du jo

  • by gandhi_2 ( 1108023 ) on Friday January 09, 2009 @06:38PM (#26392997) Homepage

    Like the post office or public never stops.

    Unlike those examples, it never pauses. Face it are babysitting. Networks, servers, desktops, whatever... IT is babysitting. And this baby always needs sitting....

    Instead of quitting in an "employers market"... try something like Gracie Jiu Jitsu... choking a motherfucker out makes me feel better after a day of IT BS.

    On the bright side, we'll all be up shit creek when we use all the fossil fuels. At least your servers won't need babysitting anymore.

  • Abuse. (Score:3, Funny)

    by Samschnooks ( 1415697 ) on Friday January 09, 2009 @06:40PM (#26393023)

    "But it is hugely disappointing that, all too often, this has led to them being verbally or even physically abused.

    They fired me! They would spank me, and would respond with "Faster! Harder! Tell me how I've been a BAD BOY! Tell me that I'm a filthy little whore!"

    That's when they discovered that I was a masochistic pervert and canned me.

  • by TubeSteak ( 669689 ) on Friday January 09, 2009 @06:40PM (#26393029) Journal

    And at the very end of TFA:
    "Ten per cent of the companies surveyed said they had lost critical data through backup tape failures."

    Is it just me, or does 10% seem like a huge loss rate?
    /Test your backup

    • by whoever57 ( 658626 ) on Friday January 09, 2009 @06:45PM (#26393083) Journal
      Managers who expect that data will never be lost, yet are unwilling to authorize equipment purchase and hours required to install and maintain a proper backup system.
  • The Book (Score:3, Funny)

    by pondermaster ( 1445839 ) on Friday January 09, 2009 @06:44PM (#26393073)
    The IT manager Book of Abuse:

    * cat-5 strangulation
    * bayesian water torture
    * physical loopback devices
    * burning and branding
    * PROFIT!
  • Stress, eh? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Chabo ( 880571 ) on Friday January 09, 2009 @06:45PM (#26393077) Homepage Journal

    The biggest cause of stress among IT staff is problems arising from operational day-to-day tasks

    In other news, doctors get stressed by having to do clinicals, and retail workers get stressed out by daily customers.

  • by incubuz1980 ( 450713 ) on Friday January 09, 2009 @06:46PM (#26393089) Homepage

    1 to troll in 2 seconds...

    Honestly I think this acceptance of things going wrong and "thats just the way IT is" belongs in the Windows world.

    I have personally quit 2 jobs in the past because I was asked to work with Microsoft products.

    User friendly and sysadmin friendly are two different things.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 09, 2009 @06:49PM (#26393139)
    I hijack supertankers for ransom. It's fun and pays really well! Back in college, I never would have guessed those Somali language courses would end up being so useful.
  • write-only backups (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dltaylor ( 7510 ) on Friday January 09, 2009 @06:49PM (#26393143)

    While I don't condone abusing the incompetent, we have been doing our own source code repository backups in engineering, since IT admitted that they cannot recover the repository from backups. We can't recover the repository either, since IT "owns" it, nor are we permitted to use an alternative, but we do incremental and full backups regularly of a "latest" sandbox, and at each release tag, so we can reconstruct the data set.

    We have a Linux development environment, but those systems are hobbled by a Windows-centric IT shop that has firewalls blocking access to Google from non-Windows systems and Linux-centric forums everywhere.

    This level of incompetence is typical of IT at many small-to-medium (once, even large) places I have worked. Mordac(s), the preventer(s) of information services, work(s) at too many places, and I wouldn't miss them if they all quit and got jobs where they could be useful.

  • I work in IT (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Xerolooper ( 1247258 ) on Friday January 09, 2009 @06:50PM (#26393169)
    Yes I work in IT I think TFA was referring more to the personality type that migrates towards the IT jobs being nerds. Thus being nerds IT types tend to take abuse rather than standing up for themselves. If someone is being abusive they are probably just stressed out themselves. If it happens where I work I just quietly walk away and they are usually falling over themselves to apologize later(so I will come back and fix their computer). This is not because of some god complex. It is because I treat everyone in our diverse workplace with respect. So I demand it in return. BTW I have thick skin so it takes a lot for me to walk away but I will.
  • by topham ( 32406 ) on Friday January 09, 2009 @06:51PM (#26393175) Homepage

    There is a severe lack of respect for IT; a number of comments in here are unexpectedly examples of it.
    IT work can be easy. IT work can be hard. IT is generally very time consuming; whether it be easy, or difficult.

    I've done the gauntlet, from network drops, router configurations, firewalls, server installs, application suites, application development, end user training, requirements gathering. In the end the biggest problem is that everyone seems to think everything takes only about 10% of the time it actually takes. They see that one instance when everything goes right and decided that it must always be that fast and easy. It seldom is.

    • definitely agree (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Trepidity ( 597 ) <> on Friday January 09, 2009 @07:10PM (#26393393)

      I'm a computer science academic, and so our department at one point got the brilliant idea that they could save money by greatly reducing the IT staff. After all, computer scientists have PhDs in Computer Stuff, so can run all their own IT, right? It turns out not really---and even when they can, it'd be a full-time job to do so, and they already have other full-time jobs (like writing papers and research grants and teaching classes and supervising grad students).

      What's kept the whole thing running at all is that the reduced staff has two really excellent people who manage to pull things together, both of whom are much much better at their jobs than any numbers of CS PhDs would be at that job, because being a top-quality IT staff member and being a top-quality CS researcher just aren't the same job.

      I suppose the change has sort of increased the respect the IT people around here get though: you definitely notice all the stuff that used to Just Work after the IT staff gets canned.

  • what burns me (Score:3, Interesting)

    by nuclear_zealot ( 1227240 ) on Friday January 09, 2009 @07:12PM (#26393427)
    TFA is pretty thin. IT people are stressed due to the... economy?
    Rant begins>
    What's driving me mad at work is dealing with buzz-word spouting idiots. They can barely spell "computer" but they'll come with requests that I perform some half-witted change to fix a problem that they created. (that, of course, won't work)
    If they could just summon the brains the come to me with a goal (i.e. we want the application to run faster) I could fix their problems. Instead, I'm not allowed to address the garbage they've created for themselves so they can avoid looking as clueless as they really are. And just forget about introducing new tech to make everyone's life easier. They'd have to learn something new. That makes me a bad guy, until we NEED that new tech, in which case I'm a slacker for not having already done it!
    And, no, I'm not perfect, but when I make a mistake I admit it and fix it. Meetings are a lot shorter when you say "yeah, that was my mistake. Sorry about that. I'll fix it" instead of blame-storming the issue for an hour or two of my life that I'll never get back! FUCK!!! FUCK!!! FUCK!!!
    So I guess I'm saying, it not the job, it's the people. In the end, it's way less stressful to lower yourself to their level and play the blame-game instead of trying to achieve something useful. Note: this drives you insane if you have a brain. Never forget:
    - no good deed goes unpunished
    - if you fix something it's your fault that it broke in the first place

    Anyway, that why I think about quitting 5 times a day. Unfortunetly, now is not the best time.

    /bias - Sysadmin in a medium-sized company/
    Note: there are some rare semi-competent to competent people out there who can at least partially do their job (whatever it is). They are no problem to deal with at all.
  • The real issue? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by DesertBlade ( 741219 ) on Friday January 09, 2009 @07:25PM (#26393549)
    How many of those IT people are not truly qualify to handle the positions they are in? While many IT people are extremely competent there are many, many who are not. Seen some IT people spends hours and hours trying to get something to work, the competent Joe IT fixes it in five minutes.

    "But I am MCSE certified! I know exactly how to do it."
  • by hemp ( 36945 ) on Friday January 09, 2009 @07:29PM (#26393593) Homepage Journal

    I find a lot of folks in the IT trenches tend to be reactive rather than proactive.

    They seem to enjoy being the "goto" guy that saves the day by resurrecting the server with the melty motherboard and toasted power supply while hundreds of users anxiously sit by their desks in breathless anticipation. Merely, switching to a failover server would never be as rewarding.

    They regale in bragging to their co-workers and more importantly, their bosses about how many hours they spent rebuilding databases and applying emergency kernel patches at 3 am.

    Face it, what kind of attention do you get when your servers never fail? When you never lose a database?


    • by Fulcrum of Evil ( 560260 ) on Friday January 09, 2009 @07:54PM (#26393869)
      That's what happens when you can't get the budget for a failover server - it costs too much money. Meanwhile, 50 people sitting on their thumbs for half a day is apparently free.
    • by Klootzak ( 824076 ) on Friday January 09, 2009 @08:56PM (#26394473)

      Face it, what kind of attention do you get when your servers never fail? When you never lose a database?

      Actually, you get asked to justify your existance in the company since "you never seem to be doing anything".

      There is nothing more professionally satisfying than having a company tell you they're replacing you with a (generally Indian) Outsourcing firm (having been advised to do so by HR), for 2 reasons:

      1. Things have been going so well they don't think they have any IT "problems" to fix.
      2. They will be calling you (or if they're completely without humility, another firm) once they realise how bad things can be without someone who knows what their doing at the helm.

      Good IT people "fix" problems. Great IT people prevent them from happening at the first place.

      I think the biggest reason most IT people are abused is because they care too much.
      When I spoke to a Psychiatrist how he dealt with having everyone tell him their personal problems his response was "I only care when I'm being paid for it".

      Probably the best piece of advice I've heard from someone in the Mental Health industry.

  • Yup yup yup (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rawtatoor ( 560209 ) on Friday January 09, 2009 @07:30PM (#26393607) Journal

    And IT is still the industry that refuses any form of unionization. Everybody is too smart and too privliged because of the technicality of what they do to see the benefits of working together to make things better for us.

    And before you start flaming, think where you would be if you were actually on your own, if you had to code your own OS, compiler, library and every other piece of software you use in your job. Yeah, but you are a lone wolf. Keep it up IT

  • Sleep Data Sleep (Score:3, Informative)

    by sbillard ( 568017 ) on Friday January 09, 2009 @07:50PM (#26393815) Journal
    My bit of advice, from a former chronic "all nighter".
    Don't sleep at your desk. Find a spot to catch those 2 or 3 hours of sleep before sunrise.
    I preferred to sleep behind the big environmental units (AC + dehumidifier). The loud buzzzzzz of the unit was a lullaby to me. And sleeping on the floor was better than sleeping in a chair head in arms on desk, neck pain ow.
  • by plopez ( 54068 ) on Friday January 09, 2009 @08:42PM (#26394337) Journal

    My last job was of the better ones I had. We start out small, not IT related (env. engineering). The work was interesting, e got to rollout new technology. Since it was a smaller company we spent a large amount of time with the end-users getting to know them, their problems etc. We really developed a good rapport.

    We not only set up the infrastructure (email, networking etc.) but as there was no software to do many of the unique tasks of the company (I would look about 2 times a year) we got to do some interesting software development.

    I left for two reasons:
    1) I became very interested in Hydrology and decided to pursue that. I wanted a job with some field work.


    2) As we got bigger the principals decided to hire a "real" manager. Big mistake. Up until then we were shipping software every few months in small increments to improve work flow, finding ways to do tasks for clients so we could bill out hours and be largely self-funded and basically maintaining a positive atmosphere. Within a short period of time costs skyrocketed, billable hours disappeared, the environment became toxic, the rapport with clients deteriorated and the department began to show no results. I'm glad I got out when I did.

    The upshot is, if you find the right company and can create a good environment it can be fun.

  • by Whuffo ( 1043790 ) on Friday January 09, 2009 @09:05PM (#26394531) Homepage Journal

    I'm looking over the postings here and have realized that the people who are saying that IT workers are whiners and should suck it up - they have never worked in IT and have no idea what it's like. It must be just like any other job, right? No, it's not.

    It's a job where upper management sees you as a cost center; you contribute nothing to the bottom line. They don't want to spend any money on IT upgrades either; that old server has been working this long, it can keep on working for years. Problems? That's why we have IT staff.

    When things are working you've got management wondering why they pay you. They are constantly finding busy work for you so that you're not just sitting there. But when something fails - be prepared to work as many hours as it takes to resolve the issue. And don't be surprised if you've got executives standing over you and berating you while you're trying to fix the problem.

    Imagine (if you can) the Exchange server taking a crap (like they're known to do). The database is corrupt? No problem, that's why we have backups. Now, restore the last backup and while it takes HOURS to complete you get to deal with every asshole in management demanding to know where their email is and why you haven't got it fixed yet. It's a test and if you don't have the right answer you're out of a job. Too bad there's no right answer - good luck trying to think one up.

    I survived for eight years doing this job for a major international corporation. Would I go back to it? I'm not sure; the money wasn't too bad but oh geez, the working conditions were awful. It's not the actual problems with hardware and software that get you, it's the problems with all those managers and executives that seem to think that nothing should ever go wrong because they have an IT department taking care of it. And when something does go wrong it's because those IT people didn't do their jobs right and should be punished.

    For those of you who think that this is overstated - go get yourself a job in IT and see how you like it. After you've done it for a year or two let's see if you still think the people who have actually done it are nothing more than whiners.

  • by Uberbah ( 647458 ) on Friday January 09, 2009 @09:08PM (#26394555)

    No, unions do not prevent people from being fired for cause.

    Pro-athletes, writers, directors, and actors can make vast sums of money, are rewarded for success and creativity, and yet are members of unions. There is nothing about unions that would prevent you from making that six figure salary and getting that Viper you've wanted since you were 16 - nothing.

    Yes, sometimes unions make mistakes, and some union members are lazy. But who hasn't worked at a non-union shop and seen lazy people who manage to keep their jobs.

    Enron. Worldcom. Bear Sterns. Morgan Stanley. AIG. CitiGroup. Big companies that probably managed to lose a trillion dollars between them. Therefore, big companies are bad, will never work, and should be eliminated. Hey, it's the same tired argument that get's used against unions.

    Unions haven't driven a single job overseas. Not one. You can blame executive greed and "free" trade for that.

    No, union workers in Detroit do *not* earn $71 an hour. That figure is a lie, created by adding up all the compensation paid to current workers and the benefit costs to retired members, and dividing that by the current number of workers.

    You work hard, you get rewarded. That's how it's supposed to work in this country. Yet if the minimum wage had increased at the same rate as the rise in productivity from the American worker, it would be $19 an hour today. If it had increased at the same rate as CEO compensation, it would be over $50 today.

    Union workers make at least 11% more in compensation, have more vacation time, have *much* better health benefits, and have much greater job security than non-union workers. You may think you can do a better job negotiating alone, but it's simply not going to be the case. Unless...

    Finally, say you really are the hot shit you think you are, AND ignore point #2 above. If you really are 10x as smart and work 10x as hard as the next guy, you don't want to be a worker bee in any case - you want to be in upper management, where union rules don't apply.

DISCLAIMER: Use of this advanced computing technology does not imply an endorsement of Western industrial civilization.