Don't want your IT workers to quit? Start by checking to see if the printer is plugged in or turned on before complaining to them that you can't get a document printed.
But dumb requests for help are only one of the stressors making IT workers contemplate leaving their jobs, according to a recent survey by GFI Software. "Seventy-nine percent of IT staff are actively considering leaving their current role due to job-related stress, despite apparent economic and staffing improvements in many businesses across the country," a news release stated.
The survey found that 77 percent of IT workers consider their jobs stressful — up 12 percent since 2013. Only 67 percent of IT workers in Britain find their work stressful. The story in The Register that reported the lower figure in the United Kingdom also called the IT workers "tech bods."
The 77 percent level of stress contrasts with an article at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that found the average percentage of all workers who are under stress is about 40 percent.
ESecurity Planet summarized some of the study by GFI: "The survey of 200 U.S. IT administrators also found that 38 percent of IT staff have missed social functions due to issues at work, and 35 percent have missed time with their families due to work demands on their personal time. One quarter of respondents said they've seen a relationship severely damaged or fail due to their job."
The GFI survey said that only two-thirds of the IT folks in the Northeast say they are stressed. But if you want to see real IT stress, go to San Jose or Denver where 100 percent of those surveyed said they are stressed at work.
Survey respondents shared examples of experiences that may be what drives them over the edge.
"I asked a user to open Windows — they took it literally," said one survey respondent. Another talked about how "a user jacked up his car and used his company laptop as a wheel support. It did not work."
Another complained about "having to repair and replace damaged machines because users keep hitting them."
The American Psychological Association says if people are overwhelmed by workplace stress, they are not alone.
The APA's description of symptoms, "headache, fatigue and an upset stomach in combination with feelings of irritability, anger, nervousness and lack of motivation," may apply to IT people as well as any other stressed workers — and might be part of the job description. Among other advice, the APA recommends being aware of stress triggers, taking time off, taking breaks, taking care of yourself and so forth.
Helping IT coworkers with stress could include making sure the printer is plugged in and turned on before calling for help.