Less stress & 4 other things IT pro’s are looking for in 2017

by Joe Janasz
kpCompanies Sr. Vice President of Sales & Recruiting

A 2016 Health IT Stress Report found that 55 percent of professionals in the field are eiher frequently or constantly stressed. What’s more, 38% of tech workers rated their stress intensity as high or extremely high, while 45% said their stress occurs on a frequent or chronic basis. It’s clear that tech professionals are stressed and burnt out, and if employers and IT managers don’t take action, they are going to face major talent shortages. That’s also why finding a less stressful job was the #1 thing IT candidates are looking for according to a 2017 CareerBuilder poll.

Some of the reasons tech work is stressful are difficult to control. One reason is that tech work is unpredictable–one minor change to a website can cause a bug that leads to an entire system malfunction. The shortage of tech workers means that many companies hire inexperienced workers who make more errors and don’t know how to correct those errors quickly. Full-time tech workers also face the stress of being replaced by consultants or having their job sent offshore. Those stresses in the IT workplace are not likely to change soon.

What can change is the way employers look at tech stress in the workplace. Most employers realize that as stress continues growing, employee productivity and and motivation drops. This is how employers can better manage stress on their IT workers and retain IT talent longer:

1. Better Work/Life Balance

Note how often tech employees socialize with one another. If you see IT workers rushing through breaks to get back to work or cutting down on social activities, help tech candidates develop a better work/life balance which may include more work from home or more company social activities.

2. Online Venting & Solutions Portal

Promote an online forum in which tech employees can share stressful situations before they grow out of control.

3. Provide Work-Schedule flexibility

Allow tech employees to structure their each day so they can be most productive. This goes beyond giving some tech employees the right to work from home each Friday. Each tech employee has different stresses outside work from daycare to aging parents. Trust your IT workers to get their job done and let the employee determine how to make the most of each day.

4. Gimme a Break!

Let your employees know it’s OK to take a vacation or break. Recharged employees get more done. Executives should take breaks too and lead by example.

If you are a tech worker, you are probably getting too many calls from recruiters asking you to change jobs. If you want to find a less stressful IT job, trust only those recruiters who have many years of experience placing candidates in the right environments, and recruiters who know what specific employers’ cultures are really like. The same can be said for employers and IT managers looking to add tech talent. Trust experienced recruiters to find candidates who are making job changes for the right reasons and will be good long-term fits for your culture.

How to Get That Promotion

You’ve been at your current position at work for far too long. You’d love more responsibility, more money, and a better title. You see what your boss does, or the day to day tasks of the people above you, and you know you have what it takes to do that too. The question is, how. What can you do to convince your superiors that you have what it takes? Here are a few things you can do to get that promotion.

The Initial Conversation

Before you begin the process, let your immediate supervisor know that you’re interested in advancement. It’s important that you make sure they’re on the same page as you, rather than just hoping they notice that you’re working harder.

Starting that conversation can be a little nerve-wracking, but there are ways to make it easier. First of all, don’t just spring it on them out of nowhere. Schedule a specific time to have a conversation with them. If you just walk into their office and start talking, they’ll likely be in the middle of something else, and what you say will go in one ear and out the other. Instead, make sure you have their full attention.

Tell them you believe you’re capable of doing more, and would like to work towards increasing your responsibility within the company. Tell them what position you want to work towards. Then—and this is the important part—rather than telling them what makes you right for that job, ask them what it will take to get it. What do you need to do? How can you improve yourself? Let them tell you how to get the promotion, then work towards doing that.

Once you’ve gotten the initial conversation out of the way, then you can work towards actually getting the promotion. You can start by

Getting a Mentor

After your boss outlines what you need to do to rise up the ladder, ask if they’d be willing to help you. If not, maybe someone else in the company will. A mentor, who understands the position you want and what it entails, can be a tremendous asset in helping you achieve your goal.

Building Your Knowledge and Skillset

Does your company pay for continued training, such as workshops and seminars that are relevant to your field? If so, look at classes you can take to help build your skills. If not, find other ways to increase your knowledge and abilities within the company. Keep up with the latest news of your industry, so you can understand what’s going on and how it relates to your job—and the job you’re working towards.

It’s not just what you know

It’s also about who you know that will help you get promoted. Make connections with the important people within your company. Try to bond with them and show them that you’re hardworking and dependable. Don’t suck up to them or spend all your time trying to “prove yourself.” Focus mainly on doing your job and doing it well. But stay on people’s radar and try to establish a connection if you can.

Being Professional

This is one of the simplest, but also one of the most important steps in working towards a promotion. Show that you have not only the skills and knowledge, but also the attitude to succeed. Treat everyone with respect, from your bosses to your coworkers to your subordinates. Don’t complain about what’s going wrong, but instead take steps to correct it. Be friendly and sociable, but not the one who’s always talking rather than working. Above all, show that you’re glad to be there. Do your job rather than watching the clock and don’t be afraid to take initiative when you see that something needs to be done. Show that you’re a leader, but also a team player. This is the best way to show your superiors that you deserve something better.

Promotions aren’t achieved overnight. Be patient, as well as persistent. Don’t fret if it takes a while for the position you want to open up, or if you’re passed over this time in favor of someone else. Just keep working harder and showing your bosses that you’re what they’re looking for. Eventually, your hard work and perseverance will be rewarded

How to Reach Your Potential at Work

Do you ever feel like you’re wasting your talents? Particularly at work—you know your job and you know the company backwards and forwards. You feel like you should be able to rise higher or earn more, but something’s holding you back. How can you reach your full potential at work, in order to achieve your career goals? Here are a few tips.

List Your Strengths

The Greeks said, “Know thyself.” Harvard Business Review says it, too. They recommend beginning by taking stock of your current skills in your job and the things you do well. Just list the two or three biggest or most important ones on a piece of paper. What is it that makes you good at these things? What can you accomplish with these skills, both now and in the future?

List Your Weaknesses

Write down your two or three biggest weaknesses. What do you struggle with? What do you need to work on? This one is a little tougher. It can be difficult to admit there are things you can’t do, or problems in your job performance. It might help to talk to your coworkers and superiors about it. Once you’ve got your list, figure out how to improve your performance by fixing these issues. It might require coaching from a professional. Whatever it takes, do what you can to conquer your weaknesses and improve your work overall.

Identify Your Goals

What is it, exactly, that you’re trying to accomplish? Do you want a promotion? More money? A better job at another company? A position that offers better hours, or an opportunity to travel? Write down where you want to end up, and what you want to be doing. Include both long term and short term goals: what you want to be doing in five or ten years, but also next week and next month. Then break down exactly what it’s going to take to accomplish those goals, and turn those steps into new goals.

Create a Timeline

One of the biggest obstacles to reaching your potential is thinking in too broad of terms. You want to be Executive VP—great! But there’s a difference between having an idea of where you want to go and actually working towards getting there. Now that you’ve got your list of goals, motivate yourself by creating a timeline of how (and when) you’re going to achieve them. Then, once you have your basic timeline in place, of goals for the next five or ten years, get more specific. Create a timeline for the next month, and then one for the next week. Every day, at any given moment, you should be able to identify what it is that you’re doing right now to achieve your goals and reach your potential.

Get a Mentor

Nobody ever achieved anything all on their own. Talk to the people above you. Let them know what it is you want within your company and ask what you need to do for them to give it to you. In particular, find someone whom you respect and ask them to help you on a more personal and individual basis. Get them to mentor you and help you improve. Not only will this make you a better worker, but it will give you an ally in the company who will be more likely to consider and recommend you when it comes time to discuss promotions, raises, etc.

Reaching your full potential in the workplace is an ongoing process. Once you’ve achieved your goals, there will be new goals you can work towards, in terms of both achievements and performance. Never stop striving for excellence. That’s the best way to succeed.

New Year, New You!

Everywhere you look, you’ll see banners touting “New Year. New You!” And, if you are like me – you’ve already checked off several things you’d like to start or improve upon in 2015.

For me, it’s a series of blog posts that help kp candidates find positions that are not only in line with both their skill set and financial goals — but also fulfill them at a deeper level. So many of us are beginning to understand the importance of living more authentic lives. The discussions I’ve had with job-seekers, friends and family have inspired me to do a blog series about how to find your true fit in the workplace and in life.

Each Friday during January (and possibly longer based on demand), join us on IMPACT (http://www.kpcompanies.com/impact),the kpCompanies blog, to discuss steps to a more satisfying life and career in 2015 – whether that means making a change, or slightly reworking the career you have.

I look forward to growing with you!