How IT managers manage their vacations

A time of respite from something; a scheduled period during which activity is suspended; and a period of exemption from work granted to an employee.

Those are the top three definitions has for the word vacation. Definitions, which a recent survey appears to indicate, may be lost to a lot of IT professionals.

In a recent survey of 200 IT professionals, Toronto IT recruiting firm TEKSystems found that 67 per cent of respondents reported having their vacations interrupted by work demands.

Corporations are also slapping the “golden handcuff” on senior managers, according to the staffing firm. It found that 67 per cent of senior IT professionals are expected to be available during their vacation. Of this group, 44 per cent are expected to be available 24/7.

By contrast, 71 per cent of entry and mid-level respondents said they are not expected by their company to be available during vacation.


The trend is also apparent when it comes to non-vacation work hours.
Forty one per cent of respondents said they were available 24/7, 38 per cent indicated availability for 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and 14 per cent said they were available 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.

TEKSystems found what it calls “a tale of two ITs” when 57 per cent of senior-level IT professionals reported they were expected to be available 24/7, while only 37 per cent of their entry and mid-level co-workers said they were expected to do the same.

“The survey clearly illustrates that senior-level IT professionals have significantly greater demands placed upon them and much less work-life balance,” according to TEKSystems.

Companies are also not taking adequate measures to cover posts temporarily left vacant by “vacationing” employees. More than 80 per cent of respondents said their firms make not staffing arrangements of workload adjustments during IT staff summer vacations.

“When demands of a job push beyond the hours of 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and require attention 24/7, it’s critical for organizations to manage their talent so they remain motivated and engaged,” said Rachel Russell, director of TEKSystems.

The always-on nature of the job and technology that makes its almost impossible to stay away from work are taking their toll on IT workers, according to its survey.

As many as 31 per cent of IT professionals rate “keeping up with technology” and 28 per cent cite “impact on work-life balance” as the most stressful aspects of their career.

Despite this, 80 per cent of respondents said they would still choose to pursue their IT career and would recommend it as a career choice to others. Sixty six per cent indicated that they are proud of their career choice and current assignment.

Still 29 per cent said “I am proud that I chose IT as a career, but I am not proud of my current role, assignments and responsibilities.”


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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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