Almost half (45%) of people working in IT feel stressed, as organisations try to tackle the increasing threat of cybercrime, a study by a cybersecurity consultancy has found.
Chess Cybersecurity’s report – How Stressed is IT? – revealed that almost six in 10 (59%) stressed-out IT employees regularly worked more than 45 hours a week – well over the 37.1 hours the Office for National Statistics states is the UK average working week.
Among the 1,025 IT staff surveyed, only 56% of those who believed they were stressed said they had a good work-life balance, which Chess Cybersecurity suggested might be because of working longer hours than those in other industries.
A quarter (26%) of stressed-out IT workers wished they had chosen a different career, compared to only 11% of staff who were not stressed.
Looking at the potential reasons behind the sector’s stress epidemic, only 41% of stressed employees agreed they had adequate resources to do their job well.
The report said: “IT is a critical department for many organisations, big and small, and having stressed-out IT workers responsible for delivering fast, reliable and safe systems, which the entire company is heavily reliant upon, is worrying.
“How can we expect stressed-out IT workers to have a cool head when a big problem hits?”
Having published the report to coincide with international stress awareness month in April, Chess urged organisations to consider the impact of work-related stress on their IT teams and look at how conditions could be improved.
It said reducing stress was not simply a case of cutting working hours; employers should also improve internal awareness of stress and how it can affect an employee’s mental health and performance.
Gavin Wood, group cybersecurity director at Chess, said: “It is clearly detrimental to every employee’s wellbeing, not to mention the company’s own operations, if key IT members are suffering from stress.
“These employees are dealing with crucial aspects of the company’s IT systems, such as their security defences, every single day. Allowing these health issues to go unheeded could, therefore, come at a significant cost to the business, in addition to letting down the employees themselves.”
Employee assistance provider Health Assured said stress could lead to further conditions, such as depression, anxiety or heart disease, which could fall under the definition of a disability under the Equality Act 2010.
“Proactively talking to employees with stress, and providing workplace support, will help ensure stress is managed before it progresses,” said Health Assured CEO David Price.