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CIOs experience stress, verbal and physical abuse during IT failures

Business continuity involves more than the investment in resilient IT – staff and their families need support too

A survey of 250 companies in the UK and Ireland with 500-plus employees has reported that 62% of CIOs/CTOs have suffered from stress-related illnesses and/or damage to their mental wellbeing in the event of an IT crisis, while 49% of CEOs said they had suffered stress-related illnesses.

According to Sungard, which produced the report, in today’s hyper-connected world, the C-suite is inextricably tied up with brand identity, which means senior executives are linked to their company’s resilience.

The Sungard resilience imperative study showed that 54% of respondents had experienced verbal abuse online following IT disruption, and some had even been physically abused. One-fifth said abuse had even extended to their friends and family.

The pattern is similar in Ireland, with three-quarters (75%) of CIOs/CTOs admitting they had experienced stress-related illnesses.

The Sungard study highlighted the gap between investments in business continuity technology and services, and the impact on the people who are tasked with managing the disruption.

In the UK, almost three-quarters of the business leaders surveyed (72%) said their business continuity spending would increase in 2019, and in Ireland, 85% expected business resilience to be a board priority in 2019.

But to do their jobs to the best of their ability, the C-suite need the help and support of the wider business, said Sungard. It added that the findings demonstrate why more must be done to instil resilience in businesses, and help leaders with their personal responses in times of disruption.

The study found that although companies have long considered the financial and reputational impact of crises, they are not addressing the significant negative personal impact on leadership teams. Sungard urged company chiefs to take business strategies beyond ensuring a robust and agile infrastructure, to addressing the personal impact on staff following business disruptions.

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“Boards within organisations must look at their company’s approach to resilience and consider how they can better support staff following business disruption,” it said in its report.

Sungard urged business leaders to provide counselling for executives following business disruption and offer guidance to communicate with family members and support staff through periods of significant business disruption.

Kathy Schneider, chief marketing officer at Sungard Availability Services, said: “Business leaders suffer from stress-related illness or damage to their mental wellbeing when disruption happens, which also affects their family and friends. Boards within organisations must take a long, hard look at their company’s approach to resilience today and ensure that it meets the ever-changing array of challenges to it.”

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