Balancing Act

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Are you happy? Is your IT career shaping up to be all you wanted it to be? Do you feel overworked, stressed out, insecure about the future?


Welcome, apparently, to the world of information technology. I imagine you’ll be a bit less than surprised to hear that recent research shows that IT isn’t an easy industry in which to labor. (Pause now for a rousing chorus of “Well, duh!”)


ISR, an international research and consulting firm, recently released results of a study of 17,000 IT workers in the United States. The final research showed that the average IT professional worries about employment security, perceives his or her workload as unreasonable and suffers from job stress that feeds a feeling of discontentment and a drive to find new work.


Are you happy? Apparently you’re the only one. It’s not really that bad, but some of these numbers are shocking:



  • Fifty-one percent of IT workers cite job stress as a problem, 10 percentage points higher than the overall U.S. workforce.
  • In terms of workload, 53 percent of IT workers feel overloaded, compared to 39 percent of the general U.S. labor pool.
  • In 2004, 16 percent of IT workers told ISR they would seriously consider leaving their employer. In 2005, that number spiked to 25 percent.
  • Sixty-eight percent of U.S. employees feel comfortable in their positions, but only 57 percent of IT workers share that sense of security.
  • Similarly, 57 percent of IT workers worry about being laid off, a concern shared by only 47 percent of the U.S. workforce.
  • In some ways, this is the worst stat of all: In 2001, 64 percent of IT workers felt their employers rewarded innovation.


In 2005, that number dropped to 46 percent.


There is some good news for IT professionals in the report: Experts feel that the numbers—and the trends behind them—are reversible. ISR advises employers to offer clear communication on IT’s contribution to the business, to define a clear career path for IT advancement and to fund training and development for those who want to grow their skills and their value to the organization. On the softer side, the report also urges IT professionals to find a comfortable work-life balance, where their professional and personal lives co-exist harmoniously. All work and no play, right Jack?


So back to the original question: Are you happy? Are numbers like this merely indicative of a vocal cadre of colleagues, or are the issues more universal? Remember, IT may be an industry with justifiable concerns, but at the base level, your job is like any other job. It’s up to you to find a good fit for your skills and personality, and to take control of your career.


Why don’t you write to me and share how you avoid burnout and career fatigue? Working together, we can make a lot of people happy.


Tim Sosbe
Editorial Director

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