Missed deadlines, mistakes, high absenteeism, a lack of enthusiasm. The signs of poor performers? Not necessarily. More common than not, these may actually indicate that your staff members are burning out.
Technology professionals have always had to work hard. After all, everyday computer glitches and large-scale initiatives such as desktop systems upgrades are part of the routine. However, the combination of heavy demands and lean staff levels commonly seen at companies today can put even the most motivated IT professionals to the test. Those who feel too stressed may ultimately decide to leave your firm.
If your group is showing signs of diminished morale, it will likely take more than a pep talk to get everyone back on track. Following are some effective strategies for re-energizing your workforce:
1. Show you care. If your team is small enough, meet with employees individually to talk about work demands and priorities; otherwise, ask managers in your group to handle this task. Often, staff members put themselves on the road to burnout by assuming everything on their to-do lists needs to be done immediately. Help them reassess the importance of each assignment and gain more control over their time. Also solicit—and genuinely listen to—their input on what improvements could be made in the department to boost morale and productivity. Employees may be aware of certain problems or issues that you are not.
2. Say it's OK to go away. It's counterintuitive, but during busy periods it's necessary for IT staff to take some time off. Encouraging small breaks, like leaving the office early one day or going out for lunch, can help your staff return to the office refreshed and better prepared to take on the challenges ahead.
3. Support their careers. Another valuable way to re-energize your workforce is by helping employees advance their professional knowledge. If your IT staff has been working long hours, chances are they haven't been taking many classes or attending association meetings. Developing new skills and staying on top of technological trends can not only renew their enthusiasm for their careers, but also increase their contributions to your department.