An examination of the impacts of stress and coping/wellness strategies of information technology workers in the higher education field

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Mroczko, Jennifer R.
The Information Technology (IT) field infiltrates much of our daily lives. It has changed the way we conduct business, communicate, research, and learn. Individuals demand the latest and greatest - faster and better electronic devices, systems, and Internet. Businesses and organizations constantly require upgrades, improvements, or replacements to their technology in order to stay ahead of their competition and offer premium, uninterrupted services to their customers. The aforementioned demands often puts a strain on the IT professionals that support these individuals, businesses, and organizations. Information Technology professionals are faced with pressures of quick turnaround time and deadlines, anticipated and unanticipated workloads, and limited resources. This can cause IT professionals to become stressed, exhausted, and eventually lead to professional burnout. This study was designed to measure stress/burnout level of IT professionals in the higher education setting. The first purpose of the study was to determine whether IT professionals are suffering from stress/burnout and to understand some of the stressors they perceive in the workplace. The second purpose was to determine the coping/wellness strategies IT professionals practice along with the perceived level of effectiveness, their thoughts about complementary health therapies, and their participation in employer wellness programs. The third purpose was to determine if re-wording an original statement of the Oldenburg Burnout Inventory (OLBI), the instrument that the researcher used to measure burnout, would impact the way in which participants responded. A total of 242 participants completed the researcher's survey. The results showed that participants do experience stress/burnout and shared a number of stressors in their workplaces. Participants reported practicing coping and wellness with the behaviors of smiling, laughing, joking, and social support being reported most frequently on a daily basis. Participants described a primarily positive view of complementary health therapies, with nearly a quarter reporting that they engage in one or more therapies. Participation in wellness programs was a mixed review as program activities varied by employer. The addition of a re-worded statement to the OLBI did not add statistical value to the survey. Limitations included that participants were restricted to IT professionals in the higher education setting. In the future, this study may be replicated in additional settings, such as IT in the healthcare, government, or financial setting. Implications may include the use of the results by organizations in order to review existing work environments, processes, and workload, as well as improving their wellness programs.