Preventing burnout is a primary concern for IT managers in 2003, largely because it can lead to lower productivity, long-range turnover and a loss of shareholder value, according to Meta Group Inc. A recent survey indicated that burnout affects 71 percent of corporate IT departments.

Maria Schafer, a Meta Group analyst, says that because IT budgets have declined or remained flat over the last two or three years, many IT jobs have been eliminated, forcing IT managers to perform the same tasks, or additional jobs, with fewer workers.

Most companies (84 per cent) measure morale through employee surveys. Others (18 per cent) obtain feedback through a performance review process. Some companies (15 per cent) use the old-fashioned suggestion box to keep the lines of communication open – something that, in Schafer’s opinion, should not be overlooked.

Once problems are identified, Schafer says solving them takes a little money and creativity. Many companies surveyed (55 per cent) said they have begun implementing skill development programs, but such programs are hard to do on the cheap.

According to the survey, it’s also a difficult time to find funds for raises or bonuses. Just 11 percent of companies surveyed planned to raise salaries, while 8 per cent planned to offer cash bonuses to reward burned-out staff. Another 11 per cent planned to make new hires to relieve the burdens on their IT workers.