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How to identify burnout in tech

Technology jobs have more than their fair share of pressure and challenge, some of which may be unique to a particular position but many that are universal across the industry. This pressure invariably leads to a large percentage of the workforce suffering from some type of burnout, whether it be total exhaustion or complete loss of interest in their work, during the course of their careers.

The causes of burnout in tech may not be unique to the sector – very high job expectations from managers/bosses coupled with unrealistic and unreasonable workloads, but the percentage of workers who report some type of burnout are higher than average across the workforce.

A report by research company Yerbo titled The State of Burnout in Tech in August last year found that, among 30,000 IT professionals surveyed across 33 countries, 56 per cent of men and 69 per cent of women can’t relax once their workday is over, while 43 per cent felt disengaged from their work.

Another report, from anonymous workplace chat app Blind, which surveyed over 3000 employees at large tech companies, found that 68 per cent of workers were feeling more burned out now than they did prior to the pandemic because the lines between work and home had become totally blurred.


Spotting red flags

Burnout can usually be attributed to a combination of negativity/cynicism, stress and exhaustion in one form or another.

Cynicism occurs when a worker feels underappreciated or disillusioned and sees little reward or purpose in their role. This leads to frustration, detachment and a loss of interest in the work. This could then have a flow-on effect to other members of a team, especially if they are working together in close proximity on a project.

Chronic exhaustion is another red flag in which you are so tired you can barely get out of bed in the morning and are totally wiped out by the end of the day. This type of exhaustion is usually the result of a combination of a huge workload combined with far too much responsibility for things like the successful completion of projects or merely to keep systems running the way they are supposed to 24/7. This is often made worse by a lack of opportunity to recharge or even take a full weekend off because of the workload.

Stress, like exhaustion, is a major contributor to tech burnout, and this can be brought on by anything from unrealistic deadlines and timeframes to being made to feel incompetent by a team leader when you are surrounded by high performers.


Effective ways to fight burnout

Competition for the best-paying and most challenging tech jobs remains fierce and companies expect a lot from their workers such as long hours and total commitment.

For workers, this is hard enough, before you add other factors such as poor leadership, toxic culture, lack of a career path and insufficient reward into the mix.

But there are things you can do if you feel you may be suffering from burnout. Firstly, set boundaries between home and work so you only ever work at a particular time and in one space. Also, switch off all work messaging platforms and your phone during non-work hours so you don’t feel like you’re living in the office.

Talk to your boss about your situation and what you currently find unacceptable to see what they might be willing to do and discuss the situation with your colleagues, who likely have similar issues. You should also make full use of any HR services available within your organisation and don’t hesitate to see a doctor and/or a psychologist for professional medical advice.

For employers, it’s important to remain vigilant about the well-being of your staff and be prepared to make some concessions when the topic of burnout arises. These can include everything from offering immediate leave, either paid or unpaid, moving the worker in question to a different team with different tasks, offering more flexible working hours, and perhaps most importantly, doing more to make them feel valued and appreciated.

Finite 920’s expert team are always here to help – contact your local office today.


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