Information Technology is one of the most in demand fields in the job market. While being in demand, it can also be very demanding of those who fill those roles. Stress in the IT field can be overwhelming for many who find that they are underpaid, understaffed, and not appreciated. The experience also with end users can be less than desirable. Especially if understaffed, many end users may perceive the quality of service to be less than adequate. IT professionals certainly face specific problems and challenges. What can they do to overcome certain job related stress specific to Information Technology?
Information Technology professionals in this day and age along with the economic situation that is prevalent today find themselves very often understaffed and underpaid for what they are doing. Information Technology professionals are similar in function to maintenance staff. Many times, especially in smaller organizations or educational institutions, other employees do not really see what information professionals do on a daily basis and they definitely do not see their worth until a system wide outage occurs and business screeches to a standstill. Many companies do not see the need to fill positions adequately especially if IT professionals are doing their jobs too effectively and efficiently. What do we mean by that? Often IT professionals are so good at what they do, they can make it appear that other positions are not needed because they are taking care of all essential tasks adequately. What can an IT professional do to perhaps shed some light on a situation of being understaffed?
Documentation is not a positive word to some professionals as many think about the grueling time spent documenting technical details, audits, etc. However, the type of documentation that certainly benefits IT professionals is documenting time. Management needs to see the time you spend performing your duties as well as other time you spend after hours. Remember, most management personnel do not fully understand what is involved in maintaining system functionality. Assuming things are running smoothly, any extra time spent by IT professionals making sure the system is up and running may go unnoticed. Make what you do real to them and try to help them understand why the things you do are important. Any documentation you have that you can especially highlight in departmental and management level meetings helps keep everyone on the same page with any challenges or specific work loads hindering progress. Documentation provides powerful ammunition when it comes to justifying additional head count. Do not allow yourself to become overly stressed just because the appropriate head count is not available. Help everyone to understand also that time lines are impacted when the head count is too low to cover the daily activities let alone improve system functionality and performance. Make sure your documentation reflects this.
IT professionals need to communicate with management and supervisors on what is going on in their “world.” Helping management understand the business impact of system failures or performance upgrades helps put what you do in perspective with how they are accustomed to perceive effects on the business. Simply stating facts about the intricate workings of a system or performance numbers does not translate to facts management can relate to as being important. Find a way to bridge the gap between the technical aspect of the system and how it truly affects day to day operations. Management will appreciate this and it will help highlight areas of weakness in staffing, etc.
Information Technology job stress is becoming more and more common especially with tighter budgets and the economic situation. However, with proper documentation and communication with everyone involved including management, factors affecting stress related problems in IT should at least be easier to deal with. IT professionals need to make sure that they are not overcome by the ever increasing demands and technical tediousness that can certainly be mentally and physically taxing. Do not become overwhelmed and take on more than what you can possibly handle just because management does not see the need to increase budgets or staff.