77% Of Tech Leaders Have Work-Associated Stress As a result of Of Covid: New Survey

The results of a recent survey of hundreds of tech leaders around the world is a wake-up call for all business leaders. Seventy-seven percent said they are working under more stress because of the Covid pandemic, citing issues related to working from home and the broader economic situation. Twenty-four percent admitted they have self-medicated with alcohol, narcotics or prescription medication to cope with the stress.

The survey, which was conducted by identity and access management company OneLogin between March 1, 2021 and April 12, 2021, also found that 80% of respondents used exercise as a coping mechanism, while 40% relied on meditation. Only 11% used therapy.

Candid About Pressures

A summary of the survey noted that chief information and security officers (CISO) and IT executives “have been very candid in the past about the ever-increasing pressures of the job, leading to deteriorating mental health, addiction issues, and even suicidal thoughts and tendencies. The lingering effects of Covid-19 are massive in scope for workers around the world. Beyond upending how employees work, the pandemic has spurred awareness of employee mental health concerns — especially among the CISO and IT community.”

A bright note in OneLogin’s research project is that 75% of the tech leaders believed their organizations value their health and well-being. The bad news is that valuing their health and well-being is one thing, but doing something about it is quite another.

More Stress Likely

OneLogin said they surveyed 250 tech leaders to help understand how the pandemic has impacted the stress levels of chief information security officers and their security teams.

Eight-six percent said their workload has increased during the pandemic. But recent events will likely create even more work and more pressure for tech and other leaders and employees. They include the recent rise in cyberattacks, the headline-making attacks on Colonial Pipeline and the JBS meatpacking company, and last week’s warning by President Joe Biden that companies need to increase their cybersecurity efforts to protect against ransomware attacks.

Janice Litvin, author of the Banish Burnout Toolkit, said when stress continues unabated it can lead to:

  • Mental, physical and emotional exhaustion
  • Higher sensitivity to feedback
  • Feelings of ineffectiveness and lack of accomplishment
  • Dread, absenteeism and avoidance of everyday situations

Be Proactive

Vanessa Pegueros, chief trust and security officer at OneLogin, said the survey results send an important message that business leaders, “… must be proactive about the mental health of their technology leaders and their teams. They must consider the incredible stress they are under and the risk that poses to their business.”

Amazon is taking steps in that direction. As reported by BBC News, the retail giant, “… plans to put ‘wellness chambers’ in its warehouses so that stressed workers can sit inside and watch videos about relaxation. In a video shared on its Twitter account, Amazon said the ‘AmaZen’ chamber would help staff focus on their mental health.”

Employee Assistance Programs

Litvin noted that, “… one key source of help that many organizations find useful is Employee Assistance Programs (EAP). [They] provide a variety of services and resources ranging from free and confidential assessments to professional referrals and follow-up services to employees facing work-related and/or personal problems.

“An EAP might offer short-term counseling or connect employees to those who can help them with issues such as substance use, interpersonal relationships, legal problems, financial difficulties or other challenges. It is important to note that the EAP will not share the identity of any employee they are serving or face rigid consequences thanks to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act,” Litvin said.

7 Ways To Control Stress

She recommended business leaders take the following steps to help gain control over their stress.

Take Regular Breaks

Breaks give your brain a chance to refresh and regroup.

Exercise

It is widely known that twenty or thirty minutes of moderate or high aerobic activity releases endorphins, the feel good hormone. Dopamine is also released because of the pride you feel from having completed the goal of exercise that day.

Get Some Sun

As soon as the sun hits your skin Vitamin D is released in the bloodstream and a myriad of physiological reactions occur which create mental clarity, good mood, and more.

Light

Fill your workspace with as much light as possible—especially if you cannot go outside due to rough weather.

Breathe

Take 60-seconds to close your eyes and breathe deeply on one of your breaks. Besides filling your brain and body with more cleansing oxygen, breaks give you a chance to calm yourself from the busyness of the day.

Self-reward

Reward yourself for the little wins throughout the day.

Listen to Music

Some people are able to work while music is playing. Listening to music, as well as playing music, can be immensely therapeutic. The sound waves actually travel to your body and you “feel” the music, viscerally. Simultaneously, the brain releases the happy chemical, dopamine so that you feel a sense of joy and enhanced mood and sometimes euphoria.

Bad News On Top Of Bad News

In February, I reported that, “A new study of thousands of business executives and HR professionals around the world found leaders and employees are burning out at record rates, and that most executives don’t think they are effective at leading virtually.”

Among the major findings in Development Dimensions International’s Global Leadership Forecast 2021 were that:

  • Nearly 60% of leaders reported they feel used up at the end of the workday, which is a strong indicator of burnout.
  • Approximately 44% of leaders who feel used up at the end of the day expected to change companies in order to advance; 26% expected to leave within the next year.
  • Only 20% of surveyed leaders believed they were effective at leading virtually.

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