UK technology industry in mental health crisis – report
IT and technology professionals in the United Kingdom are reaching crisis point when it comes to burnout, according to a new report.
Gigged.AI has released a 28-page report entitled, Digital Transformation in Crisis: The Impact of Skills Shortages, Talent Trends and Burnout on the UKs Technology Industry.
The report surveyed 255 professionals working in or managing digital transformation.
Key stats from the report includes:
- 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 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.
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 its a lack of budget.
So, whilst there doesn't seem to be the talent available, 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.
A substantial 92% of respondents said they are 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 are 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 report found that 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 theres 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.
With talent shortages and burnout reaching crisis point, its time for organisations and policymakers to think about more flexible ways to tackle these challenges.
Over a quarter (27%) of those asked said they are creating training programmes to upskill current employees, in a bid to plug talent gaps. Some 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 is 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.
"As boardrooms continue to put their money behind ambitious digital transformation initiatives, the demand for digital expertise will only grow and its vastly outstripping todays limited talent supply," says Gigged.AI, CEO and Co-Founder, Rich Wilson.
"Burnout is now reaching crisis point, and it's time for management to step in with support," he says.
"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."