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Morale among IT workers is at rock bottom, with workers struggling to cope with increased workloads.

That's the main conclusion of Meta Group's annual IT Staffing and Compensation Guide. It found the majority of managers believed their techies are close to breaking point. Increased pressure, due to recession-induced staff cutbacks, is increasing the workload of remaining workers who are beginning to show the strain.

Among IT managers surveyed, more than 71 per cent indicate that IT employee burnout is currently a serious issue in their organizations. Unless the problem is addressed, turnover, productivity, and shareholder value will suffer, Meta warns.

"Working through this prolonged recession, which has seen budget cuts across the enterprise, numerous staff cutbacks, and general sector uncertainty, has definitely taken its toll on IT employee morale. Unfortunately, it is those same budget cuts that are impeding managers from combating the problem by way of making concrete improvements," said Maria Schafer, programme director of Meta Group's IT Human Capital Management Strategies, and author of the guide.

The picture is not entirely black, with Meta noting that many firms are rolling out staff training programmes and other measures to boost worker morale.

More than half (55 per cent) of companies surveyed by Meta have begun implementing skill development programs as a means to boost employee morale, while 24 per cent have created better overall retention programmes.

Monetary rewards still register as a viable "Plan B" for many firms, according to Meta.

One in ten (11 per cent) of surveyed companies raising salaries, a similar number hired more staff, and 8 per cent offering cash incentives to prevent employee burnout.

According to Meta, only a few IT organisations with remote locations relied on a "change of scenery" to attract more talent and retain good people. Just one in 20 moved the company to a new location altogether in an effort to lure skilled workers and reduce employee malaise.

Meta suggests that, at a minimum, firms should keep lines of communication with hard pressed workers open. Employee surveys, performance reviews suggestion boxes and the like can all help in this, it suggests.

Meta released preliminary conclusions of the survey last week, ahead of the publication of the its IT Staffing and Compensation Guide later this year. ®

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