Report finds IT feeling stressed out

IT workers are stressed, or so says the 2003 Information Technology Sector Report released on Tuesday by Toronto-based Warren Shepell Consultants Corp, an employee assistance program (EAP) outfit. The company compiled the data for the report over a three-year period from 153 organizations with roughly 86,000 employees.

The firm said it handles approximately 70,000 counselling cases per year while responding to 30,000 in-bound calls per month through its call centre.

According to the report’s findings, IT workers’ stress levels increased by 60 per cent, costing Canadian employers $1.7 billion in lost work time. In fact, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that by 2020, depression will become the leading cause of disability among developed nations.

The report focused on three key areas – stress, depression and the work-life balance – and determined that IT workers are rising above the national average in depression. Not surprisingly, the timing between when depression levels increased for IT workers coincided with catastrophic events in the industry such as the dot-com blow out and the period when companies began downsizing.

Stress, depression and anxiety, the company says, now rank among the most serious mental health issues in the workplace and are things that companies should address.

“Our objective to the research is to help educate employers and employees about the mental health environment,” said Rod Phillips, president and CEO at Warren Shepell Consultants Corp. Of the IT workers suffering from mental health issues, only 6.5 per cent received treatment, he said.

The report estimated that dealing with employees’ stress, depression and anxiety cost companies 14 per cent of their net annual profits.

Supplemental information on trends for the report was collected by Human Resources Development Canada, the BMO Financial Group and Industry Canada.

More information on the report can be found at the company’s Web site at