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Businesses IT

Why Do So Many Tech Workers Dislike Their Jobs? 474

Nerval's Lobster writes: So what if you work for a tech company that offers free lunch, in-house gym, and dry cleaning? A new survey suggests that a majority of software engineers, developers, and sysadmins are miserable. Granted, the survey in question only involved 5,000 respondents, so it shouldn't be viewed as comprehensive (it was also conducted by a company that deals in employee engagement), but it's nonetheless insightful into the reasons why a lot of tech pros apparently dislike their jobs. Apparently perks don't matter quite so much if your employees have no sense of mission, don't have a clear sense of how they can get promoted, and don't interact with their co-workers very well. While that should be glaringly obvious, a lot of companies are still fixated on the idea that minor perks will apparently translate into huge morale boosts; but free smoothies in the cafeteria only goes so far.
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Why Do So Many Tech Workers Dislike Their Jobs?

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  • by mwfischer ( 1919758 ) on Wednesday September 02, 2015 @04:14PM (#50446761) Journal

    The grunts know how things work and what's possible in the infrastructure.

    Managers have an idea how things.

    Directors don't know how things work.

    C level has no idea what they even have.

    --

    Essentially if you're not on the front lines for long, you have no idea what is actually going on.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 02, 2015 @04:29PM (#50446885)

      Yes. The only difference between tech and other jobs is that tech people think the C-suite SHOULD know how the IT stuff works while other professions accept that it is their job to make sure the next person up the chain knows enough to do their job. The C-suite, whose job is to guide the company strategically, does not need to know how the hardware and software works on a detailed level, or at all really.

      The assumption of intellectual superiority of the IT worker is the problem. The problem is that IT workers are on average "smart", younger than average, ambitious, etc. Management exploits perks as a recruiting tool and then... depression... work is still work, even with a ping pong table. These kids would be just as depressed without perks but management needs to compete.

      • by HornWumpus ( 783565 ) on Wednesday September 02, 2015 @04:31PM (#50446901)

        In other words most tech workers are whiny bitches.

      • by Archangel Michael ( 180766 ) on Wednesday September 02, 2015 @04:46PM (#50446997) Journal

        I am assuming you've never had a C type person make huge IT decisions without having even consulted with IT.

        In my 30+ years of experience, I've seen enough clueless C types make clueless decisions because some dude in a suit with a briefcase sold them a nice fat lie.

        In our case "All it will take are a couple IP addresses and a server. No other IT is required" If it takes IP addresses and a server, it requires IT support. And in this case, the product was so fucking horrible that it requires regular (several times a week) IT support, just on back end crap from a product designed so bad that it just breaks every two weeks from design flaws.

        Or this, "We've already bought it, you WILL support it" (with no additional IT funding for more IT help) multiple times over.

        Or buying a mom and pop application with no Enterprise class requirements in its design. "What do you mean you don't do LDAP for authentication. There is no fucking way I'm entering 16,000 users by hand"

        The issue with certain people is that they want "Shiny Pretty Technology" without caring, or wanting to know about what it actually takes to run. And it happens in enough organizations that I know that it is not an exceptional experience.

        You're right, the C types don't know shit, which is why they should stay out of shit that they have no clue on. Yet they think they know better than the people who REALLY do know whats going on. In short, IT is a bastard child in most organizations, one that has more power than most of those C types actually know.

        • "Mom and Pop" (Score:5, Interesting)

          by mariox19 ( 632969 ) on Wednesday September 02, 2015 @06:33PM (#50447547)

          I work for a "mom and pop" shop, as you call it, and I can sympathize with what you're saying. But it goes both ways. We built an application for a company that I am sure you heard of. Let's call it "Acme Inc." One of the application's requirements was that it support SAML authentication. [wikipedia.org] That's fine, we could handle that. All we asked for was some particulars about Acme Inc's environment.

          Could we have a sample SAML token, to see what kind of assertions Acme would be requiring? Could we have the SAML version, 1 or 2, that Acme uses? The responsibility for providing us with any of this was "delegated" to people who already have too much on their plate, don't really know what is going on themselves, and who lack the mojo to get a quick response from the various systems administrators at Acme who could help. A couple of weeks later, the stakeholders at Acme are crying, "Come on, come on, come on! We want the product!" Of course, none of these preliminaries have been attended to.

          Then, when the product is finally delivered, the guy at Acme charged with putting the product through its paces has no idea how SAML works, and is asking me to walk him through it. (Remember, this was their idea.) We come to find out that he has no test server to use as an "Identity Provider" (don't ask!), and he wants to know if can I help him there.

          Granted, this is all ultimately a managerial screw-up. But, my point is that even if a mom-and-pop does code up an LDAP, who's to say the customer has it together on its end?

          • mom-and-pop does code up an LDAP, who's to say the customer has it together on its end?

            You see problem, I see opportunity. I see an excellent opportunity to expand your companies services, and earn additional revenue.

            "We've coded our application so that you put your authorized LDAP query user name here, password here, the sever address here, the LDAP scope here ... Fairly simple process. If you don't know how to do that, we can send one of our consultants over and help implement LDAP in your organization, please see our Technical Sales group to define the scope of that project and get a quo

        • by KGIII ( 973947 ) <uninvolved@outlook.com> on Wednesday September 02, 2015 @06:43PM (#50447607) Journal

          I owned my own company for a long time. Eventually I was kicked out of my own server room by people I paid to do a job. You know, I listened. I could do the job well enough but they could do it so much faster. Eventually I no longer even maintained my own code. "Code comments go in the code and not on a pile of coffee soaked index cards, asshole." Again, I listened. Sure, I could do all those things effectively - efficiently if you don't count my time but I paid experts because, well, they were better at the job than I was.

          I suppose you could have called me a CEO, I mean I technically was, but we weren't real big on titles. Hell, my company paid me less than some of my employees made (of course I had the cookie jar).

          I guess my point is that not all bosses think they know everything. My understanding is the new parent company has kept the culture much the same. It was not entirely uncommon to see a curious look when I admitted I did not know something and would like to consult with someone who did before making choices. I can only surmise that the behavior is due to ego.

        • by jsrjsr ( 658966 )
          The one I really like is -- "We bought that company for their technology, so figure out how to use it in a product!" when the company already has several other products shipping that do the same thing as the new technology.
        • An example of your point would be Lotus Notes. Users loved it. Admins hated it with the fire of a thousand white hot suns.
      • by plover ( 150551 ) on Wednesday September 02, 2015 @05:00PM (#50447081) Homepage Journal

        It's a huge problem when the CIO isn't an engineer. That's simply a disaster in glorious slow-motion Technicolor. Look at the time-lapse downfall of HP from a respected engineering company to one that's known today only for selling printers that are cheaper than their overpriced ink. (Thanks, Carly, I'm sure this country could use a genius of your caliber at the helm.)

        But the more common source of discontent happens when developers are tossed a pile of requirements and told "shut up and make this X." Every developer I've known will have serious questions about those requirements, because they're always filled with errors and inconsistencies. In most cases the flaws are not evident until after development has progressed beyond the Rubicon. Being able to discuss the requirements with the stakeholder, to make suggestions on how to improve the product, to develop the best possible X to further the business, that's what developers crave. Give them that, and a steady paycheck, and you have happy people with satisfying jobs.

        And if you tell them "hand this coding over to Haich WunBee over at Outsorcery, Inc.", don't be surprised if satisfaction drops.

        • by ArmoredDragon ( 3450605 ) on Wednesday September 02, 2015 @05:17PM (#50447181)

          As far as consumers are concerned, that's what HP is. However as far as enterprise is concerned, HP is a best known as a major vendor of network, server, cloud, and storage appliances.

          In fact, HP is actually in the process of splitting the company into two separate entities with two different stock tickers. One company will do the printers and other consumer grade crap, and the other will focus on enterprise grade technologies.

          But yeah, other than that, they basically only bet on sure things these days, and are much more iterative than innovative.

      • by Qzukk ( 229616 )

        The C-suite, whose job is to guide the company strategically, does not need to know how the hardware and software works on a detailed level, or at all really.

        And yet, I'm pretty sure Boeing's CEO doesn't order the employees to start building planes without wings (I don't care, just do it! You're the engineer, you make it work or I'll find another that will!) Something tells me he knows planes a bit better than "not at all, really".

        • by TWX ( 665546 ) on Wednesday September 02, 2015 @05:47PM (#50447341)
          You can physically look at a plane. You can touch the plane. You can even conduct real-world experiments like windtunnel tests with smoke introduced to observe with the naked eye how the machine might fly, and you can grab the wings and pull them in different directions to see if the fuselage cracks.

          With computers and telecommunications equipment the bulk of what actually makes it special is in the abstract. You can see devices and cables, but what actually makes the processing and traffic flow function properly cannot be touched, and in some cases isn't well-represented even when data is captured and plotted, and worse, seemingly small changes in this abstract layer can have far-reaching consequences.

          That's the problem when someone that doesn't understand the technology dictates technological decisions for IT, they have no idea what it takes, so they cannot evaluate if their IT people are honestly telling them of the minefield in front of them or if the IT people actually are lazy; they fall into MBA-whip-cracker mode to make it happen, and the IT workers are left with the stress of being between the unstoppable force and the immovable object.
        • And yet, I'm pretty sure Boeing's CEO doesn't order the employees to start building planes without wings (I don't care, just do it! You're the engineer, you make it work or I'll find another that will!) Something tells me he knows planes a bit better than "not at all, really".

          Sure, but he doesn't actually need to if he's smart enough to listen to the people who work for him. You ask your engineers about engineering changes. You ask bean counters about counting beans. A company the size of Boeing does a feasibility study before they change toilet tissues.

      • by rudy_wayne ( 414635 ) on Wednesday September 02, 2015 @05:19PM (#50447189)

        Yes. The only difference between tech and other jobs is that tech people think the C-suite SHOULD know how the IT stuff works while other professions accept that it is their job to make sure the next person up the chain knows enough to do their job. The C-suite, whose job is to guide the company strategically, does not need to know how the hardware and software works on a detailed level, or at all really.

        The idea that the C-level guys don't need to know any technical details is exactly what's wrong with businesses today and why so many projects turn into multi-million dollar clusterfucks.

        At one time, most companies were run by people who had a tech background and actually knew the details of what was going on. It's not surprising that most tech jobs suck when the company is run my some clueless dolt who views developers as nothing more than glorified secretaries (Hey, it's just.typing, how hard could it be).

        • Saying C-level guys don't need to know how their shit works is like saying the people in charge of subways and railroads don't need to know how trains work, and then wondering where the problems are coming from when you get a boss that expects two head-on trains to "move sideways" instead of colliding.

  • Heh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 02, 2015 @04:15PM (#50446769)
    Look at all the freebies here, if you can find a break in your 80-hour work week, you'll totally dig them!
    • Re:Heh (Score:5, Insightful)

      by hey! ( 33014 ) on Wednesday September 02, 2015 @04:34PM (#50446923) Homepage Journal

      One thing I've noticed is someone who is very good at a tech job isn't just twice as productive as someone who is lousy at it; the discrepancy could easily be 10x; or it could be that he produces positive progress and the lousy guy produces anti-progress. This is clearly true for software developers, but I've seen it happen with network administrators too: small cadres of happy, super-productive admins outperforming armies of miserable tech drones.

      But the thing is if you don't understand anything about (a) the technology or (b) human beings, how do you get a worker to be more productive? You make him work longer.

      I'm not talking about striking while the iron is hot. When opportunity produces the occasional 80 hour work week, that's a totally different matter than having no better idea of what to do than setting unrealistic goals and leaving it to workers to make it up through sheer, unsustainable effort. Too often in the latter case you end up producing the semblance of progress. Yeah, I finished the module but someone's going to have to throw it out and rewrite when it blows up in the customer's face.

    • Re: Heh (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 02, 2015 @04:40PM (#50446963)

      That's how pay has been cut - one of the ways - inflation is the other.

      When I started, you could work a 40 hour week - less, we took long lunches with our boss there.

      Then, after the dot bomb crash, there were a LOT of tech workers running around, so we had to take pay cuts to work - at least we younger guys. The older guys - 30 something's - were left in the dust.

      Then, we had to work more than 40 to make dwadlines.

      Then it turned into if you got your work done in 40 or less, you don't have enough work. But if it takes you more than 40, it's because you are not smart enough to get it done on time.
      Catch-22.

      And, over the past decade, pay has gone down, back in 99, a C programmer around with 5 years of experience made about 80k.
      Now it's 65 and in 00 money, that's 40k.
      So, we're working much harder for half the pay - and food is on us.
      And the poor bastards who were let go after 09 were never hired because businesses figured out that they can just their current workers work harder. Don't like it? There's a line behind you.
      There is no shortage of STEM workers. Obama needed to stop listening to tech industry lobbyists.
      Read here: http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/09/07/college-calculus

  • by Rinikusu ( 28164 ) on Wednesday September 02, 2015 @04:18PM (#50446789)

    I can't speak for anyone else, but most "tech jobs" I've held were with companies whose futures and business I had no stake in, nor interest in having stake in, and the work to be routinely uninteresting where creativity was actively discouraged (for good reasons, many times), individuality was suppressed, and I was treated as a replaceable cog (and I was). I'm fortunate in that I have many other outlets for my creative needs, but dealing with corporate bureaucracy, idiot bosses, etc does take its toll. The paychecks are nice and allow me to have a comfortable life outside of work, but I will say that after 2 decades, I'm ready to throw in the towel and do something else, even if it means downsizing again.

    • by LessThanObvious ( 3671949 ) on Wednesday September 02, 2015 @04:41PM (#50446967)

      Agreed %100. I'm not sure why companies seem to think engagement in your work just happens naturally. If I have no reason to care about the continued existence of a company and care nothing about the why behind anything they are trying to accomplish, it's just about making money for someone else. That doesn't interest me in the slightest. More than anything I'd like to work for companies where there is a good reason to be passionate about the company's mission.

    • by taustin ( 171655 )

      That's no different from any other industry. The only thing different in IT is that IT people tend to be younger, and more naïve, which is to say, clueless enough to expect better. In other industries, people learn fast that most jobs are shit, and if you don't like it, get another one and move on, and keep moving on until you find a decent place to work. (I've got 22 years on the same job, and still get up in the morning looking forward to going to work. Yes, in IT.)

      Whining only reduces your chances o

      • Whining only reduces your chances of getting a better job.

        Whining just helps people to discharge their frustration.
        In fact, it encourages people to remain at their job.

        When you stop whining, you start seriously to seek for another job.
        Since you stopped complaining, you don't have a distorted view of the reality, so it's easier to detect problems when your mind is clear.

    • Idiot bosses are probably the top reason for work-place dissatisfaction (at least outside of pay). I wish more organizations would pay attention to this issue, and seek more lower-level feedback and correctional measures.

      As long as a given boss "looks" fine (or kisses up) to their superiors, they can get away with crapping on underlings.

  • Cause work sucks (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Cause so many workers dislike their jobs, or in the words of Deichkind, "Arbeit nervt" - "work is annoying"

    • by mjwx ( 966435 )

      Cause so many workers dislike their jobs, or in the words of Deichkind, "Arbeit nervt" - "work is annoying"

      I like my work.

      Its the people I have to deal with that I find horribly annoying.

  • by gurps_npc ( 621217 ) on Wednesday September 02, 2015 @04:24PM (#50446839) Homepage
    1) Tech in a non-tech company. Here you have little to no opportunity for advancement. The bosses think of and treat you like janitorial staff - cleaning up their messes. At JP Morgan, you are more likely to go from Mailroom to CEO than from Server Admin to CEO.

    2) Minion in large tech company. Here you have opportunity for advancement - but only by working EXTREMELY long hours for little pay.

    3) Owning/working for a small start up. Same as Minion, only pay is far worse but you have a lottery ticket to make it big.

    Basically tech jobs are closer to blue collar than white collar, despite requiring significant intelligence. Oh, and did I mention the risk of being outsourced to china/india?

    • by swb ( 14022 ) on Wednesday September 02, 2015 @04:54PM (#50447033)

      Basically tech jobs are closer to blue collar than white collar

      A peer and I once made the same comparison. We called ourselves digital maintenance men, because by and large that's what it is.

      I've never worked for a company that had a significant manufacturing component, but I kind of wonder how the blue/white collar split works there for the people who setup, maintain and manage seriously complicated factory systems. I think they might have been called millwrights at one time.

      Are they treated like blue collar people (probably, if the job involves any serious mechanical tools), or because of the sophistication of the equipment (all computer driven and complicated) are they treated like dirt, like other blue collar jobs, with all the usual management/labor hostility, clock punching, etc.

      And why do "office" jobs seem to escape a lot of that labor/management hostility? Even the lowly marketing associate seems to get treated better than the most skilled blue collar worker. I've known some electricians who were really intelligent and used to sort out cabling issues in my data center better than I could, even though he didn't know how to configure the equipment. He'd make suggestions via some kind of intuition that never dawned on me.

  • Special (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mobby_6kl ( 668092 ) on Wednesday September 02, 2015 @04:25PM (#50446843)

    Probably because they think they should be special and immune from the shit everyone else deals with.

  • by dablow ( 3670865 ) on Wednesday September 02, 2015 @04:25PM (#50446849)

    Some places have no idea what a sysadmin or software engineer is supposed to do. They assume we are all one and the same. So you will be harassed for any problem that involves using electricity.

    Some places refuse to follow or put in place process/policies/limitations and enforce them in order to make the workload manageable.

    Some places refuse to see the value in our work; They only see it as a cost center to be minimized at all costs, morale be damned.

    It is a thankless job (and who cares about being thanked, show me the money lobowski!), yes most place refuse to pay what the position should be paying. So you either end up with subpar employees or are forced to work with subpar employees that cause a lot of problems you need to cleanup.

    And the list goes on and on.

    • by pr0fessor ( 1940368 ) on Wednesday September 02, 2015 @05:19PM (#50447191)

      So you will be harassed for any problem that involves using electricity.

      I had an exec ask me if I could fix the plug-in and lamp in his office once, I jokingly asked if he was promoting me to "stuff that uses electricity dept". He thought it was so funny that he started introducing me to people as the "VP of Shit that uses Electricity"

  • by Anonymous Coward

    So I can have a life. I work Monday-Friday 0800 - 1700. No nights, no weekends. I use Macs, Linux, Windows (very little), a little coding, a little networking, run the PBX, tweak the existing firewall, a little Exchange Server and AD, a little grunt work here and there. I don't get paid as much as I could, but I have my own office, a lot of down time whilst at work, a boss that leaves me alone for the most part. Not much to dislike, really. I cannot move up here, but I could keep this job theoretically for

    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 02, 2015 @05:27PM (#50447235)

      This. Lots of tech workers spend 60 hours at work, get paid for 40 of them, and do useful work for 30 of them, mainly because of mental fatigue.

      An ideal tech company would split the company in half—a M–W shift and a W–F shift. Employees would work 24–27 hours per week, and Wednesdays would be spent on meetings and other soul-sucking tasks that require everybody to be present at the same time. It would then pay 60% of the salary for 60% of the work. Workers would be happier because they would have more free time, and the company would be happier because actual work per dollar spent would increase by up to 33%.

  • by xmousex ( 661995 )

    i have no hookers on my desk.

    if i had hookers on my desk, i would feel different. very much different.

    • by xmousex ( 661995 )

      also because i went into doing all this full well knowing the wide range of incredible possibilities. but now im locked into the very limited range of little things i do at my job doing it for people who are complete dog shit. not imaginative pioneers in the industry, but money starved accountants desperate to just get their numbers good enough by end of year. year after year after year.

      Basically I have the power of a genie, and im granting wishes for idiots.

    • if i had hookers on my desk, i would feel different. very much different.

      that feeling is called an Itch. You need to have a doctor look at it.

  • Thanks, Dice! (Score:5, Informative)

    by DoofusOfDeath ( 636671 ) on Wednesday September 02, 2015 @04:27PM (#50446863)

    For a second I thought the editors and community may have promoted this story to the front page because it was informative and insightful.

    Then I saw it was from Dice, and I knew better.

  • Shamefully biased... (Score:4, Informative)

    by mgoheen ( 244365 ) on Wednesday September 02, 2015 @04:27PM (#50446867) Journal
    When you see a graph [hubspot.net] (from the first linked article [tinypulse.com]) that shows 22% as THREE TIMES LARGER than 19% you know you are reading crap...
  • I'm a mechanical engineer but most technical people I know enjoy working if it's an important project and there is a plan to make it succeed. If you are working on something stupid forget it. If it's a great idea but no way to make it work (management, funding, politics) forget it as well.

    I was put in a new project I thought was pretty cool. I spent 2 weeks doing an analysis which proved the optimal configuration based on the given requirements. I was told we are using the original less efficient configurat

  • Maybe becuase (Score:5, Insightful)

    by John Napkintosh ( 140126 ) on Wednesday September 02, 2015 @04:28PM (#50446875) Homepage

    All the jobs I've had involve doing work.

    • So many people enter the tech industry because they want money, not because they like tech.
      If you're a programmer who doesn't like programming, that's basically like you wrote down on your college application, "Hello, I want to be sad for money."

      Maybe you should have studied welding.
  • by netsavior ( 627338 ) on Wednesday September 02, 2015 @04:29PM (#50446879)
    It is called being a grown-up. I don't recommend it. I actually tend to like my tech job, but make no mistake... it is still a job.
    • Most fast-food workers and other low-level workers probably do hate their jobs, and for good reason. They're called "work" for a reason.

      But we're supposed to be highly skilled professionals here. Do most doctors hate their jobs? I sure hope not, or else we'd have all kinds of problems in the healthcare industry (and I don't mean the insurance/payment side of things). Can you imagine a surgeon hating his job? That's a recipe for disaster.

      So no, I'm sorry, I don't buy this "everyone hates their job" trip

      • Many other commenters have pointed out that one factor is thinking you're special when you're really not. There are a whole lot of highly-skilled people in the world, and it's not really special to be highly-skilled anymore. Lawyers are highly-skilled, but they are among the least-satisfied of workers. As a society, we have learned how to make highly-skilled laborers interchangeable, which yields productivity gains. In the top echelons of every profession, there are those who work creatively and enjoyably,

  • 5000 respondents is a sufficient enough sample size to make generalizations... sometimes many non-generalizations. The size isn't the issue in as much the population it actually represents and if that population is representative of the whole IT sector. Not having read the article (who does?) but per the little in the summary, I think we are good on the sample size.

    Anyway, I don't think a lot of companies are fixated on the idea that minor perks will translate to huge moral boosts. If they were, they wou

  • by captjc ( 453680 ) on Wednesday September 02, 2015 @04:31PM (#50446897)

    Every company that gives perks like that is only because they want you to stay all hours of the day and night. Sure, that is great and all and the money is wonderful at those places, I'm sure. However, the only thing that many of us care about is actual free time.

    It seems like the whole culture is pushing this "Work your life away because it is the American thing to do" agenda. "40 hours a week is for lazy gits who will get nowhere in the workplace." Hell, where I work, don't work less than 90 hours a week if you want to make it through your next performance review. Most people start with at least 7 "use it or lose it" personal days and god help you if you actually try to take one. I am lucky because, as a contractor, they actually think twice about making me stay late as it is costing them. Salaried, I would never want to work there as that kind of environment is toxic to one's health and soul. This kind of shit is what makes tech workers hate their jobs.

    Work to live and not live to work, words to live by.

  • What I don't like (Score:5, Insightful)

    by transporter_ii ( 986545 ) on Wednesday September 02, 2015 @04:32PM (#50446905) Homepage

    A lot of tech work is reactionary. And if all you have to do is put out fires, it isn't terrible. But you are usually expected to work at other things between fires. Which means the second you start doing one thing, you have to stop and go fix six other things. Always feeling like you are getting pulled in eighteen different directions sucks.

    • This exchange from Buffy the Vampire Slayer seems to fit tech work so well:

      Buffy: Mom, I hate that these people scared you so much. And I-I know
      that you're just trying to help, but you have to let me handle this.
      It's what I do.

      Joyce: But is it really? I mean, you patrol, you slay... Evil pops up,
      you undo it. A-a-and that's great! But is Sunnydale getting any better?
      Are they running out of vampires?

      Buffy: I don't think that you run out of...

      Joyce: It's not your fault. You don't have a plan. You just reac

      • Except that it's not fruitless.

        IT keeps systems running so that everyone can get their jobs done without armies of clerks and acres of file warehouses. Development either makes a product or designs the systems that IT operates (or both).

        As for the rest of the company: hopefully, whatever they're doing to make the money is a net positive for the rest of us.

        People really want things like being recognized, making a difference or being liked (or just having power). It's the nature of IT in large organization

  • by clifwlkr ( 614327 ) on Wednesday September 02, 2015 @04:32PM (#50446909)
    I've been in the software industry for a bit, and am appalled at what companies think attract great talent. It is so far off base today, that no wonder people aren't happy. Let's take a look at the things they believe are great:

    Open office environment: What they say is it is great collaboration. What it really means is that you sit at benches back to back and face to face with your coworkers all wearing headphones. None of them talk, you have little personal space, and if you don't actually want to listen to music, you hear 3 different songs through the headphones. Never mind the Skype calls going on around you, or everyone's computer/phone./tablet all going off at the same time as the company wide email goes out. Good luck concentrating.

    Game room/exercise room: What this means is more distractions for the young workers who already can't focus on their task for five minutes and get something done. Now they need to bug you to play with them and wonder why you say you don't have time as we are already way behind. So now you end up doing their tasks while they are shooting pool just to make sure the client gets what they were promised. Basically, more people NOT working while at work, forcing you into more hours to pick up the slack. BTW, how many hours a week does your company actually expect out of you?

    Agile: A form of development co-opted by management and companies to micro manage you at every possibility, without actually establishing any direction. Yes, I know this is not how it is supposed to work, but after being in many companies doing it, it is all too often done this way. Everyone gets creative about 'what they did yesterday', and 'what they will do today', yet we still don't have a clear direction on 'what the heck we are doing'. That gets frustrating.

    Unlimited vacation: What this actually means is no guaranteed vacation. You get to take it 'if you have time'. So the people who don't actually work take tons, and those who actually care about delivery get squeezed down. Reward is opposite to accomplishments

    No Real WFH: Most places frown on WFH, as you are supposed to be collaborating. So you sit on your bench desk with trendy uncomfortable chair with said coworkers all plugged into their music not talking anyways. Why couldn't I work from home?

    Quality of code: This one is debatable probably, but in the last three to five years the quality is so poor it is scary. People are rushed and rewarded for 'just getting it out' even though it fails all the time. How about rewarding people for putting something out that actually works and is stable? Could we actually teach proper coding in college?

    What I really want is an actual office with walls and a window. Give me a door that I can leave open most of the time when people have questions, but I can close when things are crazy or tough. Give me co-workers that want to solve real problems, and care about unit tests, comments, and making a GOOD solution. Pay me for delivering quality, and more importantly, stop trying to figure out if I am operating at 100% efficiency all of the time. Define what the heck we are trying to accomplish up front, and then iterate rapidly on the solution. That would make me happy, anyways.....

    Rant off.....
    • by phantomfive ( 622387 ) on Wednesday September 02, 2015 @05:04PM (#50447111) Journal

      Unlimited vacation: What this actually means is no guaranteed vacation.

      Take your vacation, man. You're shirking your duty if you don't. When someone says, "you have unlimited vacation," they are trying to take money from you. It is in no way rude to take the money back.

      If you aren't sure if you'll "have time," plan your vacations several months in advance. Even if you stay at home for your vacation, you'll feel better if you take them.

      • Hell I make it a point to take my vacation and when I am on vacation I have made it very clear that I will be unreachable for most manages definition of reachable. I had one dickhead manager who wanted to know if I could get a hold of me when I was on vacation once. The fact that I would be out of cell range was lost on him. Finally when he insisted that he have a way to contact me in case of emergencies I told him where I planned on leaving my car and walking into the north woods of Minnesota. Then I tol
    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 02, 2015 @05:15PM (#50447173)

      Agile...without actually establishing any direction.

      That's the point of Agile! If you can't do it in one sprint then you cannot do it. We've promised a lot of features to customers that development could not work on because they can't be completed in two weeks. Agile has made my life much easier. You only plan and work on one small, well-defined task at a time. In the six years since our board voted to require Agile and hired a certified scrum master, the work we've done has all been very well-defined and we have met every single sprint deadline for every single developer. We have completed 120 sprints with around twenty developers on average. That means we succeeded 2,400 successful dev-sprint units, and with an average of 2.5 user stories completed per sprint per dev, we're at over 6,000 completed user stories all delivered on time! It makes the developers and management look awesome. The only downside of Agile is that we've lost our three largest customers because we can't deliver, and it looks like we're going to have to layoff most of the team before the end of the year.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 02, 2015 @05:30PM (#50447259)

        > The only downside of Agile is that we've lost our three largest customers...

        My last startup was Agiled out of existence like it sounds like yours is headed to. We had a sixty person team between devs, product, project management, and QA. To story point every task, it usually took us longer to explain and estimate about 1/4 of the tasks as it took to do them. That meant instead of spending one man-hour to do a task, we spent sixty-man hours. For example, most of the web-related web tasks, like changing a stylesheet or wording, took about twenty minutes to do and test while they took at least five minutes to explain in sprint planning. That means a simple task takes about 5.5 total man hours instead of 0.5. At $100 per hour per employee (including benefits and other costs and since we're in the Bay area), that meant, for example, changing the size of text on a web page cost us $5,500. Agile is a great way to waste time and money.

    • by J-1000 ( 869558 )

      Agile: A form of development co-opted by management and companies to micro manage you at every possibility, without actually establishing any direction. Yes, I know this is not how it is supposed to work, but after being in many companies doing it, it is all too often done this way. Everyone gets creative about 'what they did yesterday', and 'what they will do today', yet we still don't have a clear direction on 'what the heck we are doing'. That gets frustrating.

      I'm with you on every point except your agil

  • by GerryGilmore ( 663905 ) on Wednesday September 02, 2015 @04:33PM (#50446915)
    ...will do it, too. I don't doubt the accuracy of their surveys, but - Crikey! - look at some of the graphs they use! One shows a 5% delta as, visually, the difference between a ranch house and a skyscraper. Another shows a larger % difference, but visually much closer. Not to be too pedantic, but there's this great old book called "The Visual Display of Quantitative Information". It'll make your job more satisfying...
  • by coldsalmon ( 946941 ) on Wednesday September 02, 2015 @04:34PM (#50446919)

    "That's why it's called work," as they say. I laughed at the very misleading graph showing 19% of IT workers vs. 22% of non-IT workers saying they are very happy at work. That is a difference of 3%, but they made the graph on a scale of 19-22, so it looks huge. It's also not clear how much the authors cherry-picked data to support their thesis. On every measure cited, IT employees score poorly -- but do they score better in other areas that weren't reported? Why do they only report those who answered with a 9 or 10? How many answered with a 1 or 2?

  • ITIL, Six Sigma, Agile, I can go on for days...
  • I did during the days of the Great Recession a few years ago. Brings a whole new perspective on what exactly is sucky :-)

    On a more philosophical level for those reading this who hate their IT jobs then what would you all rather be doing? That is where I am at. I say not dealing with annoying users all day and more admin work but I could see that getting old and repetitive real fast.

    Would being HR be more fun? How about boring spreadsheets and statistical analysis all day in accounting/finance?

    I can't think

  • Whats makes the best work environment for me is to have the respect and recognition of bosses and coworkers. All too often our input is ignored because "they don't understand our tech talk" and instead take the often disastrous advice of vendors and consultants because "they speak their business language".We are often used as whipping boys when things go wrong and completely ignored for all the hard work on everything that just works.
  • >> Why Do So Many Tech Workers Dislike Their Jobs?

    Because of crappy posts like this cluttering up what used to be our happy place.

  • 1. The illusion that making money will make you happy (eventually) -- This hooks the young and eager dudes to work 18 hour days for that carrot.
    2. Everyone in every profession is unhappy (more or less)
    3. Tech workers are in demand develop ego issues. They think they're special and when they aren't rewarded, they get angry and pouty (I was certainly a victim of this vice. Now adays, I'm less emotional and more pragmatic, but same idea)
    4. Employees don't stay with companies because companies don't care about

  • The path to promotion is proving you can put up with the company's bullshit by not quitting.
    • by Qzukk ( 229616 )

      Yeah, right. And you're going to give them a raise for putting up with your bullshit? No? That's bullshit then, and I'm not putting up with it.

  • by naasking ( 94116 ) <naasking@nOsPAm.gmail.com> on Wednesday September 02, 2015 @04:45PM (#50446993) Homepage

    Autonomy, Mastery, Purpose [deliveringhappiness.com]: you'll be happy with your job to the extent it has these qualities. How much autonomy do most engineering jobs give you? Not much I imagine. How much mastery? Well you're certainly not going to be exploring many new skills, or even masterting particularly difficult ones on average; it's mostly repetitive scaffolding with glue.

    Purpose is pretty much the only one that technology work has plenty of. Everything runs on information technology now, so if you're interested in tech, which you probably are, you'll find lots of purpose in developing or administering information systems. This only goes so far before the lack of autonomy gets to you, or you hit the mastery ceiling pretty quickly at any given job.

  • by fluffernutter ( 1411889 ) on Wednesday September 02, 2015 @04:51PM (#50447019)
    Constantly being treated like an unwanted expense might have a lot to do with it.
  • by IWantMoreSpamPlease ( 571972 ) on Wednesday September 02, 2015 @04:55PM (#50447041) Homepage Journal

    I work for the State, a place where progress, innovation, unique thinking and independent action, go to die.
    But man are the perks awesome. As is (in my case anyway) the pay, it's obscene. Especially compared to the amount of work I am allowed to do.

    Most of the day I am in an office, handling systems remotely, but when the systems properly locked down and managed, very little goes wrong.

    So I write, read, and generally goof off. Sounds great, no?

    Not really, anytime there is an actual issue (like out NAS running out of space) I have to get 15 different people involved before I am allowed to make a decision, and then my decision is sent around for review.

    I've been waiting for a larger NAS for 8 months so far...

  • by erp_consultant ( 2614861 ) on Wednesday September 02, 2015 @04:58PM (#50447073)

    People that are attracted to Tech in general are people that like to build stuff. They like to tinker and figure out how stuff works and make things better. So they figure why not make a career out of it and get paid to do things they like.

    Then they enter the workforce. Chances are pretty good that your boss not only doesn't have a clue about programming, they probably look down their nose at you. The boss lives in a world of spreadsheets and project plans and deadlines. Their goal is to get it out the door and worry later about the bugs. With any luck it becomes someone else's problem.

    This flies in the face of the programmer who wants to do it not on time but do it right. Programming is a creative process and sometimes it's hard to put a specific time frame on that. That's the first problem.

    The next problem occurs when you take a look around you and discover that the ones getting the promotions and big raises are not the best programmers. They are the ones that have figured out how to game the system. To move into management you are expected to leave your technical skills behind.

    Sure there are some executives that are technically skilled (Gates and Zuckerberg come to mind) but most of them are MBA types.

  • Hmmm (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 02, 2015 @05:02PM (#50447095)

    Maybe it has something to do with companies gleefully grinding down their employees with 80-hour work weeks before replacing them with an Elbonian who works for six cents a day. Or maybe it's related to the company-wide policy "No Dev Left Behind", where each programmer has his own clown car full of Pointy-Haired-Bosses to help him brainstorm and debug. It might even be the business language flooding tech meetings. "We're synergizing bold new paradigms for market leverage."

    But if you ask me, the number one mood-killer for me when it comes to technology is from within. I'm talking about the 'elitist programming culture'. Hacker News is the perfect example of this. "You use an Object-Oriented language? Puh-lease. I write in a language so obscure and difficult to comprehend nobody has ever actually finished a program in it ('apps' used to be called programs, FYI)." Everybody's gotta fluff up the release announcement for their stupid web-based whatever with fancy technical jargon and a pretentious academic tone. Every program, product, and library must have a logo, a mascot, a "Philosophy" page, and a lower-case name with a random vowel omitted (Bonus points if you use the domain as part of the name, like .io). And last but not least, there's the bewildering tendency for tech-related stuff to get sucked into political horseshit now. "Are Tech Companies Excluding Women?", "Is Google's New Image-Recognition Program Racist?", "10 Tech Companies You Won't Believe Donated to This Candidate! Get Outraged!"

    I like programming, but I really don't like the overhead it brings in. It's not about solving puzzles anymore.

    • Upvote parent. Underrated.

      My own bugbear, is prima-donna lead developers who can spin enough bullshit to con the managers into letting them goof off on company time. We had a cluster of these hyperactive bozos at my last gig who thought it would be fun to crank out shoddy rewrites of GridGain, Mongo and SpotFire, because they wanted to waste company resources fucking about reinventing (badly!!!) existing free off-the-shelf products. FML.

  • by RogueyWon ( 735973 ) on Wednesday September 02, 2015 @05:18PM (#50447187) Journal

    I've certainly noticed that as we move into our mid-30s, a lot of my techie friends (who I've known since college days) are increasingly deeply unhappy with both work and home lives. Some of this might well be down to job-specific reasons such as pay, working hours, corporate culture and career advancement. But I don't think that can account for all of it.

    Given that my friends have generally gone into techie jobs because they've had a passion for computing since their pre-teens, I suspect that a good deal of it is because they've eroded the barrier between "work" and "hobby". What they do for relaxation in their own time starts to look an awful lot like what they do for a living on the company clock, and the latter inevitably starts bleeding into the former. I've one friend who fought tooth and nail to break into the game design world and succeeded (getting past the entry-level QA and developer roles into one with a lot more meat to it) and who now takes no pleasure at all in actually playing games.

    By contrast, I took a decision aged 16 that I wasn't going to do that. As a result, I'm in a field that I never for a moment imagined I'd end up in when I was 16, but while I can't claim that I wake up every morning brimming with enthusiasm for my job, I do generally enjoy it. The work's varied, it's intellectually challenging, being a niche (but in-demand) field the pay and conditions are fairly good and I mostly get to work no more than around 45 hours a week (with the odd exception, but I do get overtime for particular crunch periods). Plus I can go home in the evening and actually switch off from work and enjoy my hobby.

    The educational establishment these days puts a lot of effort into persuading people to "follow their dreams" and "work on what interests them". I do think a more mature approach would be to help people realise that turning your hobby into your job doesn't work for everybody and that there's work of interest in a lot of fields if you're prepared to look for it.

  • The IT Department is like legal or accounting but is often not given that kind of status in the company. When they're not... they're asked to do impossible things, given no authority to do them and are treated like idiots by people that are bigger idiots.

    And that creates unhappiness.

  • by NitroWolf ( 72977 ) on Wednesday September 02, 2015 @05:23PM (#50447209)

    One of the major problems with IT and engineering departments is that they are treated as an expense. They are something distasteful but necessary to the business, but the business would rather do away with it if it could. When you and/or your department are viewed like that, it's hard not to become cynical and annoyed with the other departments.

    Often times IT is the gatekeeper of information and much like dentists and doctors, they are often times the bearers of bad news, even though they aren't the cause. They are just the messenger, but when you're told "No, you can't access Facebook during work hours," the IT department is often blamed, even though they didn't make the policy.

    Engineering is seen as an impediment to sales and progress because they are the ones that have to keep saying "No, it's not ready yet." or "No, we can't do that." Engineering is like the police department... everyone hates them until they need them. Then when that need is over, it goes right back to hating them.

  • Young employees and these pollsters are both clueless.

    You've been through 4 years of college and now you're doing what you studied for, what you presumably intended your life to be, and you want to be promoted out of what you like and what you're competent at? WTF?

    What makes jobs pleasant are enough money to make finances not a problem in your life and decent management. Decent management means not jerking you around or playing mind games, insulating you from corporate irrelevancies and sticking up for you

  • Work-life balance (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ttsai ( 135075 ) on Wednesday September 02, 2015 @05:37PM (#50447285)

    Things that are high on my work satisfaction list:
    Work-life balance
    Work-life balance
    Work-life balance (did I mention work-life balance?)
    Good working relationship with my boss
    Good working relationship with my coworkers
    Non-stressful commute

    Things that don't matter:
    Work satisfaction (it's work; I get my enjoyment from the part away from work; hence the supreme importance of work-life balance)
    How well the company is doing financially (unless I'm going to be laid off soon or I own a huge amount of company stock)
    Lunch or snacks (free or otherwise)
    Promotion and titles (unless they come with financial compensation and I'm not yet adequately compensated)

    Things that sort of matter:
    Financial compensation (but only up to the point where it meets my needs, some wants, and savings requirements for retirement; past that it doesn't matter)
    An office (cubicles and open space are horrible; I would trade an office for lowered financial compensation)

    Even companies that have good reputations emphasize the lunches, cubicles, money, and work satisfaction but never mention work-life balance unless it's redefined to mean the exact opposite. Even here on slashdot, none of the moderated comments mention work-life balance.

  • There’s a reason companies have free lunchrooms stocked with food and snacks, workout with shower facilities and entertainment rooms – those companies expect you to live there! Even though it’s not written (nor could it be) institutional culture in those companies frowns upon not giving them your soul.

    I’m in Seattle in the Tech industry. Everyone knows quite a few who have toiled in these chi siphoning golden palaces of despair – and the story is fairly universal. You e
  • lack of sane hours (Score:3, Insightful)

    by epyT-R ( 613989 ) on Wednesday September 02, 2015 @07:12PM (#50447793)

    The primary reason is lack of sane hours. Period. Most of the ailments they have can be traced to lack of good sleep and exercise.

  • by johncandale ( 1430587 ) on Wednesday September 02, 2015 @07:40PM (#50447959)
    I want to come to work at 8:30, take an hour lunch and leave at 5:30. During that time I work, I don't facebook, I don't surf the web, I don't IM on my phone. I don't need perks besides a quiet office environment with a comfortable chair. I really don't need lunge chairs in the lounge or a lounge at all or nerf toys or free snacks all day, and I don't want the co-workers those things attract
  • by Gumbercules!! ( 1158841 ) on Wednesday September 02, 2015 @09:59PM (#50448655)
    Because many people across many industries dislike their jobs? Seriously - most people are paid to go to work, for a reason. Sure, some people have the luxury of loving their job (or just liking it) but they're not the norm, they're the exception. Most people find the things they do at work, day to day, unpleasant.

    IT workers have the added gripe that no one ever contacts us for good reasons. It's just one endless day of bailing out thankless users / customers. However I think you'll find many other industries feel the same way about their work.

    We also have the negative that our work usually follows us 24x7, while many people just clock off at 5 and go do whatever it is they do. Other industries have this, true - but IT probably has this at a higher level.
  • by codeButcher ( 223668 ) on Thursday September 03, 2015 @07:01AM (#50450127)

    Looking back at a few previous employers, I could just shake my head at the practical test one had to perform as part of the interview process, but which tested skills (Java programming) not related to anything one actually did on the job. After some months on the job, you realize that to stay current, you will either need to do a lot of reading (hahaha - those play examples seldom scratch deeper than the surface of some of the stuff needed for actual worthwhile enterprise stuff) or work somewhere else (hahaha - it is likely that you will find out only some time after the interviews that this shop is actually more of the same old).

    * EJBs? You mean that pesky indirection shell that we have between our back-end and our front-end (containing all logic, including anything resembling business rules), just because somebody read that one has to have a three-tier-architecture?

    * Concurrency? Apart from all the application server constructs that all but hide that, never seen something like that used in the last decade or so.

    * Streams, Lambdas, generics, foreach loops? You mean to tell me you actually got around to upgrading your "tried and tested" application server that "just works" to a recent version?

    * Unit tests? Documentation? You mean like all that legacy outsource-generated drivel masquerading as code is so generously endowed with?

    And come on, those things are still fairly run of the mill... As I passed the weeks doing freshman-level hacking at my new employer (spoken about in awe and envy even by recruiters who didn't try to place my there, and the company that tried very hard to have some sort of googlesque atmosphere by giving out free snacks, having generous free-drinks parties, and a conspicuous social media campaign extolling themselves as an employer of choice) only my frustration (and waistline) grew...

    I think one of the best things an employer can do is make it's employees more employable (by exposure to practical experience, not theoretical learning only). As paradoxical as that may sound, that would probably make me less inclined to leave their employ. (But I'm only speaking for myself.)

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