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Rising workloads weigh heavily on tech workers

Despite salaries rising for over a third (36%) of IT professionals, the pandemic has forced tech workers across the world to do more for their money, with over half (55%) reporting that their workloads have increased at the same time as around two thirds (64%) have either experienced pay freezes (48%), or a reduction in pay (16%).

Heavier workloads carried out remotely have had a negative impact on mental health with three quarters (75%) more tech workers reporting that they are presently concerned about the state of their mental health due to working pressures compared to last year’s Harvey Nash Group Technology & Talent Study. This year’s study found that over a quarter (28%) of tech workers globally are presently concerned about the state of their mental health.

The Harvey Nash Group Technology & Talent Study 2021, which is based on responses from over 1,700 tech professionals globally, also found that the three tech roles to see workloads increase the most during the pandemic have been: Development Management/Team Leadership (69%), CIOs/CTOs and VPs of IT (66%), and those working in IT operations (64%).

More hours – more stress – but also more support

Despite the significant rise in mental health concerns across the technology sector, the study found that more companies are being supportive, with over 80% ‘quite’ or ‘very’ supportive towards staff with concerns. Encouragingly, those companies regarded as unsupportive have dropped by almost a quarter in the past year.

Bev White, Chief Executive, Harvey Nash Group, said:

“Technology professionals have played a key role throughout the pandemic, supporting organisations in the massive push for home working and helping them adapt their business models in response to the crisis. But it’s been quite a journey. There have been long days, rising workloads and rapidly changing objectives. It’s no wonder that mental health is struggling.

 This was already an issue before the crisis, but there are clear signs it’s getting worse. It’s certainly encouraging that more organisations now have support measures in place, but there is undoubtedly further to go. The remote world post-Covid needs new models of employer care and support – the organisations that do best in this will create a significant advantage in attracting and retaining tech talent.”

Where the pay rises are in tech

Salary rate changes were dependent on sector, with two of the sectors to rapidly transform their operations to digital/online (healthcare and retail/leisure) rewarding workers the most. In the healthcare sector over half (54%) of tech professionals reported that their pay had risen, with a similar number (50%) in retail/leisure. By role, those working in Development Management/Team Leadership (59%), Architecture (46%), and Software Engineering (41%) were most likely to have received a pay rise during the pandemic.

WFH has been a success for many

Although longer hours and stress has been on the rise throughout the pandemic, the majority of tech workers haven’t missed their daily commute to the office as they have benefited from the greater flexibility that WFH has brought. In fact, the number of tech workers happy in their role has increased this year to almost two thirds (63%), and there are fewer tech workers unhappy in their role than in 2020.

Globally, the ‘happiest’ tech workers are in the US, where 84% say they are happy or very happy. Conversely, Switzerland has the highest proportion of unhappy IT professionals – with one in four (25%) admitting they are unhappy or very unhappy. Those working in either the retail/leisure sector (74%) or working in Architecture (77%) across different sectors were the happiest in their role.

With the greater flexibility that WFH brings, and levels of job satisfaction rising, three quarters (75%) of tech workers globally want to continue working the majority of the week (3-5 days) from home after the pandemic, with almost a quarter (23%) wishing to WFH five days a week. 93% want to work 2-5 days a week from home. This compares with only 45% of tech professionals globally working 2-5 days a week from home prior to the pandemic.

The new deal for technologists

For the first time, work location & remote working has risen to become one of the three most important factors for engaging and retaining key technology talent during and after the pandemic. The top three most important factors are now – remuneration (1.), work location and remote working (2.), and a strong culture & strong leadership (3.). Leaders will therefore need to rethink how they attract and engage their employees in a world where physical location is no longer a prime asset.

Bev White concluded:

“We are in a new era now – the landscape has decisively changed. The iron grip of the commute has been broken and in the future we’ll see a much more hybrid model with individuals working remotely a significant proportion of the time.

Technology businesses, internal IT functions and indeed all employers must now begin to create a new model for the future – founded on a truly flexible workforce and, most likely, a reduced or much more scalable office network. Technology remains well-remunerated, fulfilling work with our studying confirming high levels of job satisfaction overall. Getting the new employer-employee deal right will be critical to keeping it that way.”