Running Up the Down Escalator

A report from the Meta Group confirms what we already know, IT staff are ‘Burning-out’, victims of the recession and overwork caused by staff cuts.

Meta warns employee burnout is a serious problem among the IT managers it surveyed. Over 70% of those questioned believe that the increased burden of stress is a serious organizational issue and is adversely affecting staff morale.

There is some good news hidden in the detail. IT still pays more than a job ‘Down pit’ and in general employers are more likely to encourage training and skills development for their staff. However my own experience over the last twelve months suggests that people working in IT are ‘Spinning plates’ and responsibilities like no other time in the last twenty years.

If I were to mention company names and tell you, what readers tell me, I would be likely to be spending the rest on my life defending a series of libel actions but if I’m honest, I don’t really know how some IT companies are coping anymore. The answer of course is that many are not, reflecting what one senior manager once told me, “We can only concentrate on the top 10% of our customers directly, the others we push out to the channel to deal with”.

Even when something interesting appears, many people don’t dare take their eyes off the ball to investigate, they simply don’t have the time available and in some cases, I’m having email exchanges that are only marginally faster than a message in a bottle.

For these people, email has become a curse that dominates their lives. When they do reply, it’s invariably a ‘one-liner’, which frequently doesn’t answer the question that was asked in the first place. Many people today don’t open their email, they use the preview pane. If your message doesn’t fit inside this, then it simply won’t be read.

Meanwhile, a survey by Yahoo of 18,000 people with access to email at work, suggests that we are becoming increasingly paranoid about who might be reading our email and worry about accidentally forwarding personal emails.

The IT department is suspected of covert rummaging through one’s inbox by 60% of those questioned by Yahoo and 45% worry about colleagues having a peek while they are away from their desks.

These two reports speak volumes. If we’re not overworked, then we’re unemployed. A growing number of us suffer from PDA attention deficit disorder and most of us suffer from communications stress involving email, the mobile phone or both.

Welcome to the brave new world of ‘Digital Britain’ where it seems that much of today’s IT industry runs on Windows, ‘a wing and prayer’.


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