Maidenhead: IT pressures push tech teams to breaking point

Increasing pressure on IT teams is pushing many IT decision-makers to the brink of burnout, according to new research from Pulsant, a leading UK provider of regional data centre and cloud infrastructure services.

Nearly two-thirds of UK IT decision-makers (65%) have felt under increasing pressure to keep the organisation running effectively over the past 12 months, with 80% of these admitting this has harmed their health and wellbeing.

The research, which was conducted on 201 UK IT decision-makers in mid-market organisations, finds increased pressure on IT has manifested in various ways: 40% of IT decision-makers impacted say they are experiencing anxiety as a result of increased pressure; over a third (35%) are suffering from increased stress which is unsustainable and will result in burn out if not addressed, and nearly a quarter (24%) have experienced burn out which has resulted with absence from the business. Plus worryingly for businesses, 20% have either resigned or started looking for a new job.

The rise in pressure could be due to an increase in expectations with 77% of IT decision-makers saying expectations of IT have risen within their organisation in the past 12 months. The biggest reasons for this increase were noted as a greater focus on security and compliance (45%), the expectation for IT to work with more areas of the business (39%), the expectation for IT to support and have knowledge of a broader range of technologies (38%), increased pressure to update ageing infrastructure (36%) and being expected to deliver projects quicker (35%).

This, in turn, means that IT teams are left stretched across a wide range of responsibilities, with over a third (34%) of IT decision-makers saying too much workload/not enough time is one of the top challenges within their teams.

“An accelerating pace of change means that IT teams are under more pressure than ever to support more critical business initiatives and deliver results faster, while at the same time ensuring business systems remain available, secure and compliant,” said Pulsant CTO Simon Michie. “This can place IT teams under immense strain which is detrimental to both the success of the business, and more importantly employee wellbeing, with staff left stressed, anxious and having to take time out from the business. “

The research also revealed a divide in opinions on the purpose of IT, with IT seen as both a caretaker of information and technology and also the driver of innovation across the business. Over half of IT decision-makers (58%) and business leaders (55%) believe the primary role of IT is either a help desk or technical support function or to be responsible for maintaining and running business-critical systems, while 40% of IT decision-makers and 45% of business leaders see the main role of the IT department as an enabler of innovation.

IT has also become influential in board-level business decision making with the majority (87%) of IT decision-makers saying IT is involved in setting the business strategy for the year ahead. An overwhelming majority (93%) say their organisation has a representative from the IT team on the board/leadership team, highlighting that IT is now widely regarded as a critical function.

However, while there is clear recognition for the role of IT in driving the business strategy and innovation, IT teams face challenges in delivering on expectations. Nearly two-thirds of IT decision-makers (65%) say their team is under pressure to be more innovative but there is not enough investment for this to be possible. IT decision-makers are also put off from driving new ideas forward by challenges including conflicting priorities (38%), lack of resource (36%) and time (35%).

“It’s hugely positive that both business leaders and IT decision-makers recognise the role of IT in driving innovation, but it’s clear that more attention needs to be paid to providing the IT team with the right support and resources it needs to perform both functions effectively and maintain the wellbeing of IT professionals,” concluded Michie.

The research was conducted by Censuswide on 201 IT decision-makers and 200 business leaders in UK mid-sized companies (200-2,500 employees). The full report – The IT Paradox: Balancing support and innovation – and further insight into the findings can be found here.