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Overqualified Job Seekers: Beware This HR Copout | CIO – Blogs and Discussion.

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As a technologist I participate in several blogs and technical discussion boards.  The other day there was a topic raised that I was extremely familiar with, so of course I took the liberty to jump in and provide feedback based on my experiences.  The basis of the discussion was how to handle “IT Burnout”.  The questions raised were :

  1. Can ‘IT Burnout’ be avoided ? If yes ‘How’?
  2. If it can’t be avoided, ‘How to deal with it’ ? or ‘How to manage it’?

In my experience scheduled time off (vacations, time-off, personal development time) is the best way to avoid burnout in “ANY” field. In the IT field I recommend that management work closely with their staff (administrators and engineers especially) to make sure they are focused on balancing their deliverables and time off.  Having managed in IT for over 10 years I have seen many burnouts including my own and usually it is because everyone is so focused on meeting the ever-changing demands and maintaining the integrity of the systems/networks that they are responsible for, that they neglect to remember they need time to first rest, but also refocus and recharge themselves.

I have been successful at implementing a few processes/procedures that have aided my staff in striking a better balance.

  1. Implement a yearly one-on-one planning session at the beginning of your calendar/fiscal year.  During this session discuss personal and professional development needs as well as anticipated vacations for the upcoming year.  In that session, you help them develop a training schedule as well a vacation/time off schedule.  Even if they are not sure about vacation timeframes but have an idea, pencil it in on a schedule so that you both have a baseline schedule for the year.  I have even used a monthly or quarterly calendar for both the training and vacation schedules to at least have in written format as a guide.  Additionally as a manager this helps you with budgeting and forecasting, which is also a plus.
  2. Once you have the complete schedule of your teams vacation/time-off/training, make sure that schedule is part of your project schedule.  This allows you to adjust either project schedule or the schedule of your employees if possible.
  3. Current documentation and cross training are extremely important to preventing “IT Burnout”.  This provides the proper knowledge base and coverage so that employees can enjoy their time off without being called or asked to “login” or “call-in” while they are taking personal and professional development time off.  Too many times employees are called away from an offsite training session or while on personal time off.  This is mostly due to poor resource planning.  This interruption of personal time truly adds to the burnout and the feeling of not being able to rest and relax. From a personal development or training perspective, this robs the individual of the opportunity to focus on the training and master the subject matter. The knowledge gained is not just valuable to the individual but a valuable asset to the organization.

Can IT Burnout be avoided?    I will say that I have personally been able to accomplish a better balance between productive and personal time for myself and my employees with proper planning, processes and documentation.  However, no matter how much planning and documentation you have in place, employees must be diligent and disciplined in these measures to avoid or manage burnout.

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