The job of an IT professional has always been stressful, but a recent survey shows the anxiety level is increasing among IT admins, leading more of them to look for new jobs.
The third annual IT Admin Stress Survey from GFI Software shows that 77% of the 200 US IT administrators polled consider their job stressful, up 12% from last year. Seventy-nine percent said they are considering leaving their job for another one due to stress, versus 57% in 2013.
All the stress is affecting IT pros' personal lives, including their health. According to the survey, 38% have missed social functions due to work, and 35% missed family functions for the same reason. One-third of respondents have trouble sleeping due to job stress, and 25% have suffered a stress-related illness. Thirty percent consider themselves the most stressed-out people in their family or social group.
The survey also noted that the main contributors to stress for IT admins are pressure from company management, cited by 28.9% of respondents, and a lack of enough IT staff, cited by 23.7%.
Tech companies may be hiring more workers these days, but they're not always hiring enough IT people to support those new employees, so IT admins are forced to do more with less, said Sergio Galindo, general manager of the infrastructure business unit at GFI, which makes IT automation software.
The conclusions of the survey ring true to Eric Hanselman, a chief analyst at the technology research firm 451 Group. However, he said the IT admin stress created by new technology has also been relieved by technology.
Server administrators have had to manage more servers as computing demands have grown at companies, but virtualization has helped reduce the number of physical servers that must be maintained, and automated systems have been developed to manage all the virtual servers from one desktop, Hanselman said.
More recently, the bring your own device (BYOD) trend has played havoc with IT admins tasked with accommodating different personal portable devices employees bring into work. "January was always the worst month in IT, because it was after the holidays, and everyone was trying to connect everything they got for the holidays to the network," he said.
Now mobile device management technology has been brought to market to automate the task of allowing different devices with different operating systems to securely access the company network, Hanselman said.
But technology still manages to throw a few curveballs at IT administrators, such as the recent Heartbleed security vulnerability and the cessation of Microsoft support for the Windows XP operating system.
And the survey results raise the question of what IT admins hope to gain from moving to another company, where the same stress factors may appear.
First off, the Internet boom era of the late 1990s and early 2000s is not being repeated today, Hanselman said. "It was a time when people would jump from one company to the next for massive increases in salary. That's not the situation today."
Instead, IT admins looking for a new job are seeking more stability, perhaps new responsibilities, and a better work-life balance, he said. They're also looking for company management that recognizes the stress that IT admins face and deals with it.
"They need to be forward thinking to deal with stress before it starts to impact service delivery quality," Hanselman said. "It's only exceptional companies that are proactively addressing stress in the IT staff."