Report reveals the UK’s technology industry is reaching critical levels of burnout due to skills shortages and failed digital transformation ambitions.
Gigged.AI, the AI-driven Talent Platform, has today released a 28-page report entitled, ‘Digital Transformation in Crisis: The Impact of Skills Shortages, Talent Trends and Burnout on the UK’s Technology Industry’. The brand-new report, which surveyed 255 professionals working in or managing digital transformation, reveals that IT and technology professionals are reaching a crisis point when it comes to burnout.
Key stats from the report include:
- 72% of UK businesses surveyed are currently taking part in digital transformation projects however 30% claim there is too much work to do and not enough people to do it in order to successfully complete it
- 57% say that the tech talent shortage has increased compared to last year
- 92% report that they are experiencing stress at work with more than half (62%) saying that the skills shortage is a contributing factor
- 41% are doing an extra four or more hours of work per week than they are contracted to do
- Over half (52%) of respondents think tools like Generative AI will help alleviate tech skills shortages, although 44% have concerns about the ethical impact of replacing roles previously occupied by humans.
THE TECH SKILLS GAP
A huge 90% of respondents said they are experiencing a tech skills shortage to some extent. These skills challenges are present across a wide sweep of technology & IT roles however the biggest gaps are to be found in software development (37%), a problem experienced by almost half of large (501+ employee) companies (48%), cybersecurity (37%) and digital marketing (36%).
Things are getting even tougher with over half (57%) of respondents saying that the tech talent shortage has increased compared to last year, rising to 74% of those companies already experiencing it at a large extent. The reasons for such extensive shortage of talent include not able to find qualified candidates (34%) and in second place, 32% say it’s a lack of budget.
So, whilst there doesn’t seem to be the talent available, concerningly 58% of respondents said they have also experienced a hiring freeze in the past year in their company which suggest there are bigger problems at hand.
THE HUMAN TOLL: AN EMERGING CRISIS
A substantial 92% of respondents said they’re experiencing some form of work-related stress, with over a third (36%) claiming to be “very” or “extremely” stressed – rising to 43% for 35-44-year-olds.
- A third (33%) are doing an extra four to five hours work per week working outside their job description.
- A quarter (26%) have had to work whilst on holiday.
- 27% of respondents are regularly working outside of their agreed hours, particularly in companies with 501+ employees (35%) versus SMB with 51-100 employees (18%).
This kind of chronic pressure is having a significant impact on mental and physical health, wellbeing and workplace performance. Due to work-related stress, over a third (37%) of respondents report spending less time with their family, rising to 54% of those over 45. A quarter (26%) say they’re less efficient because of the stress, a fifth (22%) have thought several times about leaving their job, which would turn up the pressure on those left behind in the workplace.
Respondents are in no doubt as to one of the main causes of this increasingly unbearable workplace pressure. Nearly two-thirds (62%) lay the blame on the tech talent shortage, this rises to a massive 80% when you look specifically at Senior Management. Plus, with nearly half (47%) of those claiming the end result has been to increase their workload.
Employers are also aware of the growing mental toll that tech shortages are taking on their IT and digital workers as 69% say they offer mental health support to employees. 69% of respondents say they’d use such services if offered. However, a quarter of those are unlikely to use support services say they don’t want work to know (24%) or they worry people will think their mental health challenges will impact their ability to do their job.
THE STATE OF DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION TODAY
72% of UK businesses surveyed are currently taking part in digital transformation projects. However just a third claim to be well on their way, with “a lot achieved” so far. 48% at least have a plan in place, whereas a fifth (19%) admit there’s still much to do.
For those who are not currently making good progress on their digital transformation journey, the main reason given is that things are taking longer than expected (45%). A further third (30%) claim there is too much work to do and not enough people to do it, while over a fifth (22%) don’t have the right talent in place to do it, rising to 29% for those with a hiring freeze in place.
HOW CAN BUSINESSES BETTER TACKLE THESE ISSUES?
With talent shortages and burnout reaching crisis point, it’s time for organisations and policymakers to think about more flexible ways to tackle these challenges.
- Over a quarter (27%) of those asked said they’re creating training programmes to upskill current employees, in a bid to plug talent gaps.
- 80% report that their company offers employees the opportunity to take on additional digital responsibilities, with more than half of them (44%) hoping to take advantage of this.
- Nearly two-fifths (37%) of respondents also offer on-the-job training, and around a third are ramping up salaries (33%) and benefits (32%) for existing staff.
However, under a quarter (24%) of those asked are looking at more flexible options such as freelancers or consultants to fill the gap, and only 15% are looking at rehauling their approach to hiring.
There’s also hope that technology could help in time to alleviate skills shortages. Generative AI in particular has been hailed for its ability to generate code and perform as a kind of virtual assistant, boosting worker productivity. Over half (52%) of respondents think tools like this will help alleviate tech skills shortages, although 44% have concerns about the ethical impact of replacing roles previously occupied by humans.
Gigged.AI, CEO and Co-Founder, Rich Wilson said, “As boardrooms continue to put their money behind ambitious digital transformation initiatives, the demand for digital expertise will only grow and it’s vastly outstripping today’s limited talent supply. Burnout is now reaching crisis point, and it’s time for management to step in with support. These concerning figures reveal that the tech talent shortage is indeed causing alarming levels of mental health stress for employees, and companies need to quickly assess their employee and hiring needs to ensure that their workforce is not leading to a severe and damaging case of burnout”.
Matt Alder, Talent Acquisition Futurist, The Recruiting Future Podcast said, “The Tech skills crisis is driving many employers to think differently about talent in their business. With advances in AI and talent marketplaces, organisations can now gain real-time insights into the availability and skills of potential candidates, both within and beyond their existing workforce. However, true competitive advantage will go to the employers who treat all workers equitably regardless of their employment status. This includes providing fair compensation, opportunities for development, and a supportive work environment that fosters engagement and productivity”.
Karla McNeilage, Social Media Marketer & Consultant from Scotland reached a worrying level of burnout in her previous role. “I was Head of Social for an e-commerce business that was going through a stage of growth and wanted to rapidly expand so they could reach as many customers as possible. My role was stretched to the max and I was frequently asked to take on additional responsibilities and do work that sat outside of my job description resulting in late working hours without a raise or promotion. I also didn’t receive any additional support when I asked for it – multiple times. My mental health was getting so bad I was considering going to the doctor and going on sick leave to recover which I flagged with management, however their response was ‘I know you wouldn’t do that to us.’ Eventually things reached crisis point; I lost a lot of weight, felt depressed every day and didn’t leave the house for months due to anxiety. I eventually left the job and after taking time out to rebuild my mental health, I started my own business, got my first job with Gigged.AI, and am now a freelance marketer and consultant. I ensure to always work with clients who are aligned with me and put clear boundaries in place with clients who respect them. I prioritise my mental and physical health everyday which has a positive impact on my work and I’m now in the best place I’ve ever been in.”
Gigged.AI is on a mission to make hiring tech talent simpler for global enterprises. Its proprietary AI-powered talent platforms provide businesses with dependable solutions to tech skill shortages. The On-Demand Talent Platform gives instant access to verified, on-demand tech talent to accelerate digital projects. Its Internal Talent Marketplace captures the skills within a workforce and matches them to the right project, reducing the need for lengthy and expensive recruitment, and improving retention. Gigged.AI has 15,000 highly skilled tech professionals on its platform, covering 450+ skills in 43 locations globally. Find out more at Gigged.AI.
About research study
The survey was conducted among 255 UK business decision makers responsible for making decisions around digital transformation programmes, working in a range of departments.
The interviews were conducted online by Sapio Research in July and August 2023 using an email invitation and an online survey.