Thought for the day: Is work making you sick?

The combined stress of worrying about job security, work pressures and even e-mail inbox management is making IT staff ill, warns...

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The combined stress of worrying about job security, work pressures and even e-mail inbox management is making IT staff ill, warns Simon Moores.



A report from the Meta Group confirms what we already know - overworked IT staff are burning out.

Meta has warned that employee burnout is a serious problem among the IT managers it surveyed. More than 70% of those questioned believed that the increased burden of stress is a serious organisational issue and is adversely affecting staff morale.

There is some good news hidden in the detail.  IT still pays more than many jobs and IT employers are more likely to encourage training and skills development for their staff.

However, my own experience over the past 12 months suggests that people working in IT are spinning plates and responsibilities like no other time in the past 20 years.

Many of these people aren't coping any more. 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 don't have the time available and, in some cases, I'm having e-mail exchanges that are only marginally faster than a message in a bottle.

For these people, e-mail has become a curse that dominates their lives. When they do get round to replying, it's invariably a one-liner that often doesn't answer the question that was asked in the first place. Many people today don't even open their e-mail, they check in the preview pane. If your message doesn't fit inside this, then it won't be read.

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

The IT department is suspected of covert rummaging through inboxes by 60% of those questioned, 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.

What do you think?

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Zentelligence Setting the world to rights with the collected thoughts and opinions of the futurist writer, broadcaster and Computer Weekly columnist Simon Moores.

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