Mental health concerns among tech workers jumped 75% during pandemic — Harvey Nash

As workloads undertaken by tech workers have gotten heavier during the pandemic, staff in the sector are reporting that they are presently concerned about mental health due to working pressures, compared to last year’s Harvey Nash Group Technology & Talent Study.

Despite salaries rising for over a third (36%) of IT professionals, the pandemic has forced tech workers globally to do more for their money, with over half (55%) reporting that their workloads have increased.

According to the latest Harvey Nash study, the three tech roles to see workloads increase the most during the pandemic have been development management/team leadership (69%), CIOs/CTOs and vice-presidents of IT (66%), and those working in IT operations (64%).

However, it was also revealed that more companies are being supportive, with over 80% ‘quite’ or ‘very’ supportive towards staff with mental concerns, while organisations regarded as unsupportive dropped by almost a quarter in the past year.

“Technology professionals have played a key role throughout the pandemic, supporting organisations in the massive push for home working and helping them adapt their business models in response to the crisis,” said Bev White, chief executive at Harvey Nash Group.

“But it’s been quite a journey. There have been long days, rising workloads and rapidly changing objectives. It’s no wonder that mental health is struggling.

“This was already an issue before the crisis, but there are clear signs it’s getting worse. It’s certainly encouraging that more organisations now have support measures in place, but there is undoubtedly further to go.

“The remote world post-Covid needs new models of employer care and support – the organisations that do best in this will create a significant advantage in attracting and retaining tech talent.”

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Remote working — a successful experiment

Despite longer hours and stress being on the rise throughout the pandemic, the number of tech workers happy in their role has increased this year to almost two thirds (63%), and there are fewer tech workers unhappy in their role than in 2020.

Globally, the ‘happiest’ tech workers were found to be in the US, where 84% say they are happy or very happy, while Switzerland had the highest proportion of unhappy IT professionals, with 25% admitting they are unhappy or very unhappy.

Those working in either the retail/leisure sector (74%) or working in Architecture (77%) across different sectors were the happiest in their role.

For the first time, work location & remote working has risen to become one of the three most important factors for engaging and retaining key tech talent during and after the pandemic, with this being the second most important aspect, behind renumeration and ahead of strong culture and leadership.

“We are in a new era now – the landscape has decisively changed,” said White. “The iron grip of the commute has been broken and in the future we’ll see a much more hybrid model with individuals working remotely a significant proportion of the time.

“Technology businesses, internal IT functions and indeed all employers must now begin to create a new model for the future – founded on a truly flexible workforce and, most likely, a reduced or much more scalable office network.

“Technology remains well-remunerated, fulfilling work with our studying confirming high levels of job satisfaction overall. Getting the new employer-employee deal right will be critical to keeping it that way.”

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Pay rises in tech

When examining the salaries of respondents by position, Harvey Nash found that those working in development management/team leadership (59%), architecture (46%), and software engineering (41%) were most likely to have received a pay rise during the pandemic.

In regards to sectors within tech, workers in healthcare and retail/leisure had the largest proportion of pay rises, with 54% of healthcare tech staff and 50% of those in retail/leisure reporting that they had received a pay rise in the past year.

The 2021 Harvey Nash Group Technology & Talent Study, in its eighth year, surveyed over 1700 tech professionals across 69 countries. The full study can be found here.

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Aaron Hurst

Aaron Hurst is Information Age's senior reporter, providing news and features around the hottest trends across the tech industry.