More and more IT professionals are throwing in the towel. Why is that? What can IT leaders do to prevent this from happening in 2024? Read on for an effective plan of action that make things more manageable, less stressful and promote a much happier work environment.
Your IT professionals are burnt out. It’s not just happening at your organization though; this is a world-wide issue that most companies are facing. According to a study of 36,200 IT professionals across 33 countries by Yerbo, 2 in 5 workers are at high risk of burnout. Of those IT workers who facing high levels of burnout, 42% are actively considering quitting their company in the next few months. These are statistics that all IT leaders should be taking seriously.
IT workers quitting their jobs for these 6 reasons
Did you know that the position of “IT Manager” is the fifth most stressful job in America? To those who know the job well, this may not come as a surprise. There are plenty of reasons why this happens to be the case, and why mounting pressure is causing IT workers to leave their jobs. Here are six most common IT pain points that are driving this strain:
Pain point #1: Your IT team is stressed out by angry, frustrated users
It’s hard for IT teams to feel valued when they’re constantly on the receiving end of negative employee feedback. Users routinely complain about poor network performance, slow internet, laggy virtual meetings with customers and internet outages. Add in late-night “emergency” phone calls, security false positives and breaches which stop users dead in their tracks—all which leaves IT understandably running on fumes.
Pain point #2: They’re unmotivated by endless, repetitive admin work
Yawn… it’s no fun feeling like your caught in a cycle of never-ending admin work that would be better left to automation. Between network and security monitoring and maintenance, updating firewall rules, applying patches and deploying fixes—it can be difficult for IT employees to feel like their making a meaningful difference in the business. Other common “best left to automation” scenarios include detailed root-cause analysis to isolate and identify network problems thanks to siloed point solutions. All of which adds labor and downtime and keeps your networking and security posture “status-quo” (instead of optimized and future-proofed). As a leader, how can you help your highly trained IT staff feel empowered to leverage their expertise to meet strategic business objectives and drive better business outcomes (instead of focusing on repetitive, manual work)?
Pain point #3: They’re frustrated by unnecessarily complicated point solutions
For every business problem, your IT team has implemented a corresponding point solution. Yet, chances are, that it’s now a loosely integrated hodgepodge of legacy virtual machines, hardware and software comprising your networking and security stack. Each solution has its own separate management console, maintenance and update schedule, billing cycle and customer service representative, and it’s difficult for your IT team to see the big picture let alone manage, maintain, isolate and fix any network or security issues.
Pain point #4: They’re exhausted from supporting branch work and “work from anywhere” (WFA)
Remote and hybrid work is no longer the exception, but the “new normal.” According to Upwork, by 2025, an estimated 32.6 million Americans will be working remotely, which equates to about 22% of the workforce. This environment puts pressure on IT teams to ensure high network availability and an optimal security posture for thousands of users from any location or device. With a larger infrastructure, a growing attack surface and increasing end-user frustration about application performance, IT’s workload has essentially doubled overnight. And with thousands of users backhauling to VPN servers, IT can find itself back in reactive mode, answering frustrated users about performance degradation, and patching VPN vulnerabilities, instead of helping fulfill strategic business objectives.
Pain point #5: They’re fighting a security battle on thousands of simultaneous fronts
The corporate network is more vulnerable than ever to security threats. With the expansion of branches, the blurred lines between “bring your own device” (BYOD) and corporation issued devices, and the complexity of integrating networking and security point solutions, the attack surface has infinitely expanded. For every new security product and management application, the opportunity for misconfiguration increases as do the number of policies. Misconfigurations can easily lead to high profile security incidents, while multiple sets of separate policies can lead to gaps that are difficult to identify. Because of this, IT is waging an uphill battle in a never-ending war.
Pain point #6: They’re overwhelmed by skillset gaps and professionally unfulfilled
Your IT staff remember their recruitment interviews better than you do. Perhaps you made suggestions of vertical promotions or lateral opportunities to expand on their skills and training. And even if you didn’t, a former manager, colleague or HR administrator may have implied that it was possible, leading to unfulfilled expectations. In addition to feeling professionally “stuck,” IT professionals often feel overwhelmed and unprepared due to crucial skills gaps needed to drive business growth. Maybe your IT professional or network engineer is out of their comfort zone managing cybersecurity, or another function they inherited due to team member attrition, lack of available resources or inability to find a subject matter expert. Which means, your plans for business growth will inch forward, hampering your ability to drive innovation and progress.
A proper action plan can prevent burnout and attrition
Just as overwhelming as these pain points are for IT departments and their staff, there’s plenty CIOs and CTOs can enact internally to start combatting these challenges. With the right action plan in place, IT leaders can meet each pain point head-on, win your team’s loyalty and encourage career growth. Doing so will directly benefit your team, allowing this department to move faster, smarter and be happier and more optimized in the process.
Action plan #1: Reliable global connectivity is the lifeline of a successful enterprise
One incredibly meaningful way CIOs can relieve stress of their IT employees is by guaranteeing business continuity. This is where new technology comes into play. By tapping into solutions that can help deliver high availability performance and backed by a 99.999% uptime SLA, organizations can provide a more flawless user experience for employees (which trickles out towards external stakeholders as well). Many organizations are turning to a Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) solution to achieve this—reducing single points of failure that can impact performance. SASE offers a self-healing architecture to ensure that network traffic is automatically rerouted, which minimizes the chance of an outage happening.
Action plan #2: Leverage automation to maximize business impact
As a business leader for the IT department, it’s up to you to determine your team’s North Star. This means making strategic choices about what your team should and should not focus on. Ask how IT can automate routine, manual monitoring and configuration from a single management application. This includes easily automating system optimization, managed updates, patching, security updates, rollbacks and more. Because when IT shifts from reactive to proactive, they’re free to focus on business-critical targets, like opening new sites and digital transformation. Explore solutions that can act as an extension of your team to truly maximize business impact.
Action plan #3: Eliminate networking and security solution sprawl with converged SASE
In a fragmented infrastructure, finding, remediating and preventing a problem becomes extremely challenging and significantly less effective. A fully integrated networking and security IT infrastructure can transform your architecture from being a bunch of disjointed point solutions to one platform with a single and central management application, achieving consistent policies throughout your enterprise, eliminating routine deployment of updates and patches.
Action plan #4: Ensure business continuity and best-in-breed security with Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA)
In IT teams are adopting SASE, or components like Security Service Edge (SSE) into existing network environments, such as MPLS or Software-defined Wide Area Networking (SD-WAN), so users can work seamlessly and securely, regardless of location. These cloud-native solutions optimize traffic to and from all edges, while continuously inspecting traffic for threats and enforcing access control. All security and optimization services available to office workers can now be secured, which improves the remote user experience. Access is now provided based on user authentication and includes additional security layers like zero trust and device posture checks. With this in place, your team will be able to provide a uniform security posture, reduce attack surfaces and more easily ensure user productivity—all while alleviating the mounting pressure on your team.
Action plan #5: Minimize security vulnerabilities through cloudification and consolidation
A fully converged security stack delivered as a cloud service (SASE or SSE) applies a single, consistent set of access and security policies across all users, branches, datacenters and clouds. With a holistic view into your organization’s policies, IT can more easily troubleshoot and conduct compliance audits. A consolidated security stack that is fully maintained and up to date allows IT to identify and address basic and advanced cyberthreats with real-time prevention, while minimizing the risk of security false positives. With security vulnerabilities out of the way, IT can more frequently return to its role of technology business partner, instead of exclusively focusing on security defensive.
Action plan #6: Bridge your team’s skillset gap and invest in their higher education
Gaps in your IT teams’ expertise and career overwhelm are a call to action, not cause for defeat. According to a LinkedIn Workforce Survey, 94% of employees would stay at a company longer if it invested in helping them learn. And, with rising compensation requirements and lack of IT staff with the necessary skills requirements, your best course of action is to uptrain your current staff to fill business gaps, rather than searching externally.
From strain to success: Revitalizing IT departments
The alarming rates of burnout and attrition among IT professionals underscore a critical need for immediate attention from organizational leaders. The six pain points identified—from dealing with frustrated users to managing security battles on multiple fronts—paint a challenging landscape for IT teams globally. However, the outlined action plan provides a roadmap for CIOs and CTOs to proactively address these issues.
By investing in reliable global connectivity, leveraging automation, eliminating solution sprawl, adopting sophisticated solutions like SASE or SSE and bridging skillset gaps through education, leaders can create a transformative impact on their IT departments. Implementing these measures not only alleviates the stressors causing burnout but also fosters an environment where IT professionals can thrive, contribute meaningfully, and in turn, drive the organization towards greater success. It’s time for leaders to prioritize their IT teams, ensuring they remain motivated, fulfilled and equipped for the evolving challenges of the digital landscape.
Check out our latest co-branded whitepaper with Cato Networks to explore these six steps to keeping your IT staff happy in more detail.