If you work for an organization that has an IT department, how well could employees in other departments describe the nature of their work? Set aside the essential functions, like fixing computer software issues and getting the network back online. Would they be able to explain what an IT employee’s daily operations look like? Most won’t be able to do this. We simply expect IT staff to hear our problems and immediately solve them so that we can return to work as soon as possible.
IT is ever present in our lives, but it is generally taken for granted. We comfortably assume that our internal communication platform will deliver our messages smoothly and that a technical device will function properly as soon as we pick it up. Technology is supposed to make our lives easier, not more stressful and delayed. Right? This isn’t necessarily wrong to assume — but it does create a blind spot in our relationship with IT.
There are pros and cons with every profession, but each has its unique challenges. For IT, that looks like anticipating and dealing with negativity. When we (non-IT employees) experience technical interruptions, we immediately become frustrated and open the floodgates for negative thinking. Then there is a serious risk that we take that negative disposition with us and engage with IT staff. Even after they solve the problem and get us back online, we may release that negativity, but it lingers for the employee who came to our rescue in the midst of a productivity crisis. Many times, those people are their professional peers and company team members.
Engaging with IT professionals when we’re already upset creates a displeasing work environment — for the folks who work in IT and the folks at the rest of the organization. Research by Yorizon amongst IT staff in the Netherlands, UK and USA shows that IT employees care a great deal about the appreciation they receive from end users. So, when we turn it around and start engaging IT staff with positivity and enthusiasm, there is great potential for tremendous results.
The Unique Pressures of IT
Companies and businesses cannot function without IT and IT employees in any possible discipline — that includes service desk, infrastructure, cloud, application support, IT security, IT training, IT communication, project managers, etc. We depend on their performance and expertise every single day because without it, productivity would stop. But paradoxically, they don’t always receive the psychological support they need to perform their best.
Yorizon’s research shows that the work pressure is very high amongst IT staff. They experience it in a variety of ways:
- Pressure from executive leadership to fix problems. In response, IT professionals often establish unrealistic goals at their behest, and, more often than not, manage others’ expectations improperly.
- Pressure from other departments. Few departments in an organization interact with as many different teams as IT, which positions IT staff with a unique responsibility. Our research shows that this is a particularly delicate point for IT staff. When they feel held back and unappreciated or unable to collaborate, pressure mounts which impacts IT performance.
- Pressure from staffing and budgetary constraints. IT departments are often understaffed and find obstacles in talent recruitment and retainment. This doesn’t mean the demand is shrinking. It means IT departments aren’t equipped with enough employees to handle the workload, or their budgets restrict them from positive growth.
- Pressure from customers, end users and business stakeholders to complete tasks, fix problems and provide solutions. Ultimately, IT seeks to develop products to satisfy users and meet their needs on a daily basis. At the same time, demands for and dependence on IT continue to rise, especially because of the acceleration of remote work on different platforms and devices.
Performing as an IT professional under these circumstances — coupled with the negativity they experience from those they’re assigned to help — diminishes feelings of appreciation and empowerment. It doesn’t encourage IT performance at peak levels, and it reduces the potential for interdepartmental collaboration. Without these possibilities, the company and end users alike miss out big-time.
Findings From the Research
Yorizon’s research reveals a number of insights about how IT staff in the Netherlands, UK and USA experience their work within an organization. Especially in the Netherlands, IT staff place high priority on appreciation from colleagues and end users, and feeling challenged in their role — they’re also rather satisfied in these regards. But they show less satisfaction about feeling appreciated by their managers and receiving feedback, and they still place high importance on these two areas. Compared to the general working population of the Netherlands, IT feels less appreciation on all accounts.
Additional information gathered from our research shows unique cultural points of differences. IT staff in the Netherlands report lower feelings of appreciation compared to their counterparts in the UK and USA. When we look closer, we found:
- UK and USA IT staff place high importance and rank high satisfaction on feeling appreciation from colleagues and receiving feedback and positive feedback;
- IT staff in the Netherlands report significantly lower satisfaction with feeling appreciated by their manager and even lower satisfaction with both feedback and positive feedback. These three areas call for improvement and attention, with appreciation from their manager needing prioritization.
- All three cultures agree that feeling challenged in their job ranks high in importance — but the Netherlands feels less satisfied with that.
- Compared to IT staff in the USA, positive feedback and feelings of appreciation from the manager are particularly concerning for IT staff in the UK. These rank high on importance and low on satisfaction, and they prompt immediate attention.
The research also reveals areas that can be improved to influence greater enthusiasm. In the Netherlands, they cite needing more appreciation from their managers and employers, and more interest and engagement from executive leadership. In a most illuminating response, one IT professional cites being treated “as human beings” would do the trick by way of enthusiasm. In the UK, responses were similar. They need more appreciation, respect and recognition from management, as well as appreciation and recognition from other departments and the board of the organization. But most pressing, when we combine qualitative with quantitative findings, IT staff in the UK need their company to prioritize positive criticism and support.
Creating an Empowered, Enthusiastic IT Staff
Yorizon has developed research-backed solutions to engage IT staff with positivity. We believe these professionals deserve sincere appreciation. After all, without their knowledge, expertise and practices, working remotely and staying socially connected would not have been possible during the pandemic. IT employees have saved economies from collapse and kept personal and professional relationships strong. Can you imagine what the last two years would have been like without the connections they sustained for us, globally?
The IT Staff Engagement Survey reveals blind spots in an organization’s relationship with IT. To yield more satisfied end users and experience more enthusiastic productivity from your employees, you need to keep your IT staff motivated and committed to the services they provide so that they feel valued and appreciated.
Central to the IT Staff Engagement Survey — and central to Yorizon as a company — is to inspire organizations to think differently about IT and the benefits they stand to gain when they embrace positivity and enthusiasm. When companies make IT happiness a priority, their IT departments take more pride in their work, their peers express more support and appreciation, and their end users receive excellent IT service. Additionally, IT staff feel greater loyalty towards the organisation, creating a positive influence on other IT professionals who might consider employment there. This bodes well for the employer when it comes to IT staff retention. The IT Staff Engagement Survey gives the tools you need to keep track of your IT staff’s happiness and to work together towards increased job satisfaction, engagement and flow.
IT will only continue to grow and become more diverse and sophisticated. There is no going backward for this industry. The companies who recognize and embrace how meaningful and powerful their IT employees are will be the most successful, most profitable and most long lasting.
If you would like to learn more about this topic, join us on our upcoming webinar on March 16th!