Six steps to prevent IT team burnout

By Doug More, CEO Assure APM
Published: 28 November 2016

In business, it is a given that IT resources will break down or experience glitches. A recent study in the States revealed that the average worker wastes 22 minutes per day on IT related issues. This can lead to system administrators, tech teams or external consultants being reactive, or ‘firefighting’ to diagnose and correct the problem. But any IT employee who is constantly tasked with reacting to mundane issues can quickly find their motivation burning out, especially if they do not receive recognition for their hard work.

There are six key steps you can take to help keep your IT team motivated and prevent burnout.

Mix up reactive and proactive work
There’s no avoiding reactive work in IT, but by alternating the reactive and proactive work among employees, you can offer employees variety. Incorporating ‘fun tasks’, either learning new techniques or completing activities such as code testing, writing comments and improving naming of variables, provides a break from medial tasks, releases endorphins and helps restore motivation. Development, change, new technologies and problem solving (rather than problem finding) are all activities that tech staff find exciting and interesting. A study by the University of Warwick demonstrated that happiness does increase productivity so, if you can keep employees involved in the type of activity that grabs their interest you could have better staff retention and a more collaborative culture, not to mention a boost for the business as service will be improved.

Encourage system training
One common cause of headache is when employees outside the IT department constantly ask similar questions about systems or cause an issue because of inexperience. To curb these occurrences, encourage teams within the organisation to undergo system training to empower them with the knowledge of the technology they are using, increase efficiency of other departments, and reduce the workload on the IT team.

Raise internal awareness
Not only should your IT team’s good work be recognised organisation-wide, but mistakes made externally to the department that lead to hours of work to correct should be highlighted so the problem doesn’t occur again. For example, you could employ a light-hearted system where the person who inadvertently causes a system crash could be enlisted to purchase a round of coffees or have a joke ‘dunce’ symbol on their desk for the day. This reinforces that their mistake led to increased work for someone else and encourages them next time to seek help before they cause a problem. An explanation about what went wrong should be circulated so others will understand and avoid making the same error.

Implement technology
Reduce the amount of reactive work by integrating a monitoring technology into your IT environment. Products are now available that enable 24/7 monitoring of systems, highlighting potential problems before they become time-consuming crashes. Your IT team can fix the problem early on and instead spend their time working on more interesting projects.

Facilitate regular team meetings
Giving your staff the opportunity to talk about any problems they are encountering can help brainstorm solutions and solve them sooner. It also reinforces teamwork, reducing common feelings of isolation.

Encourage getting away from the desk
Staring at a screen for eight+ hours a day is draining and can lead to decreased productivity. Data from productivity app DeskTime found employees who took 17 minute breaks for every 52 minutes worked were the most productive – and that time was not spent on social media. Encouraging the team to leave their desk for lunch breaks, take short tea breaks and regularly getting up to go for a walk actually boosts work efficiency.