IT professionals are feeling less job stress, survey suggests

IT professionals' job satisfaction levels have been on the rise in the past two years. Is the consumerization of IT behind this more positive vibe?

There are often very stressful days for IT managers and professionals -- such as when a system goes down, or a release is still too buggy -- but overall, their jobs are much more satisfying than stressful, and getting more satisfying.

ibm-watson-group-photo-from-ibm-media-relations.jpg
Photo: IBM Media Relations

That's the key takeaway of a survey by TEKsystems, an IT staffing provider. Overall, the survey results point to reasonable levels of stress, but also a decline in satisfaction levels with current roles and responsibilities.

Just 14% of entry-to mid-level IT pros consider the work they are currently doing to be the most stressful of their career -- compared to 30% two years ago. Likewise, 8% of senior IT pros consider their current jobs stressful, down from 32% in the 2014 survey.

However, while a vast majority would still choose to go into IT, less than half consider the work they are currently doing is the "most satisfying" of their career, the survey's authors report. There's actually a divergence between entry-to-mid-career types and senior professionals here. The level of satisfaction for entry-to-mid-career pros satisfied with their jobs rose from 39% in 2014 to 48% this year. For senior IT pros, the satisfaction level slipped from 42% to 38%.

So what's been going on here? TEKsystems research manager Jason Hayman provides some theories: The lower stress levels may be a result of the consumerization of enterprise technologies, as well as increased offloading. "IT may be focused on maintaining core IT programs while overall trends--appropriate staffing levels, decentralization of new LOB-focused IT programs, outsourcing, BYOD and others--have all contributed to allowing workloads to be reasonable," he points out.

There may other factors at work as well. It's one thing that businesspeople have become more tech-savvy and more interested in IT-driven approaches to their problems or opportunities. But IT professionals' jobs are evolving as well -- they are becoming more business savvy. IT professionals are increasingly addressing higher-level concerns, serving as consultants to their businesses.

Plus, everyone recognizes the disruptive power of IT, so everyone wants in on it. Every company is evolving into a software and data-driven company -- or at least is trying to. Disruptive startups are nothing but IT, and established enterprises are fostering labs and other projects to boost innovation and experimentation -- with IT playing the starring role. Everyone wants a piece of IT. That may also help explain why the major stressor reported these days is rising numbers of requests and workloads, also found in the survey:

Major Stressors for Entry to Mid-Level Professionals 2014-2016

Task 2014 2015 2016
Keeping up with requests/workloads 30% 27% 33%
Impact on work-life balance 23% 23% 26%
Keeping up with technology 29% 41% 33%
Interacting with co-workers/supervisors 18% 9% 18%

Major Stressors for Senior-Level Professionals 2014-2016

Task 2014 2015 2016
Keeping up with requests/workloads 32% 28% 39%
Impact on work-life balance 24% 28% 35%
Keeping up with technology 27% 30% 20%
Interacting with co-workers/supervisors 17% 14% 6%