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Understaffing a Major Concern for IT Pros: Report

Half of the respondents to SolarWinds' survey of IT professionals say their teams are understaffed, with many of their organizations having slowed down or frozen IT hiring.

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the Great Resignation, which resulted in a large segment of the workforce population leaving their jobs, has left IT professionals feeling their organizations are not adequately staffed.

These were among the results of a SolarWinds survey of IT pros, which also indicated companies are offering remaining employees higher salaries and more flexible working conditions because of the enduring competition for tech talent.

Indeed, pay and work-life balance were the top two responses chosen by IT pros when it comes to the factors they consider most important in their careers.

However, survey respondents are also considering or have already made a career change, with 22% having started a new job within the last year and just over half (51%) admitting they've at least considered doing so.

Observability Is Critical for Understaffed IT Teams

Thomas LaRock, head geek at SolarWinds, found one of the most illuminating findings from his company's IT Pro Day survey was that half of the respondents indicated their teams have been understaffed over the last couple of years.

"This exacerbates the challenges IT, DevOps, and other tech teams are already experiencing due to increasingly complex environments," he said. "IT pros now, more than ever before, need to do more with less, and we are seeing a trend of them turning to observability solutions to provide more visibility to help them do their jobs."

LaRock admits there are of course some of the obvious changes employers around the world have already made to address hiring challenges — increasing pay or hiring remote workers, for example.

"But there are also technology solutions that help," he added. "Consider, for example, a DevOps team who needs to not only build a custom web application but also ensure it continues running well for end users."

The higher level of visibility offered through observability is critical as devs increasingly leverage microservices managing up to hundreds of services in containers, he said.

Observability also enables DevOps teams to accelerate their product pipeline by identifying issues, such as service bottlenecks, before code is deployed.

"We've also seen companies have success with robust internship and fellowship programs, especially in the enterprise IT space," LaRock said.

At SolarWinds, company CEO Sudhakar Ramakrishna has developed and sponsors an internship program with a concerted "hands-on approach" to identify, recruit, and retain talent.

"The results have been profound — we had an internship class of nearly 100 people from all around the world this year," LaRock said.

No Relief in Sight

With economic headwinds building and certain signs that the IT hiring market may be in for a slowdown, respondents who feel their company is understaffed may not find relief coming soon.

Forty-six percent of survey respondents say their company has now either slowed or frozen hiring amid a potential economic slowdown.

"The vast majority of IT pros feel confident in their career choice, and they should," LaRock said. "But we are also starting to see concern from some about how a potential economic downturn across industries could impact the market. I'm a realist, however, and believe IT pros will continue to be the backbone of their organizations for many years to come."

The survey also revealed that many of the IT pros who left their jobs for new ones over the last couple of years regretted that decision — 15% of respondents said their new position is worse than their previous one, while 54% said their new role is about the same, he said.

"This same trend has been reported across industries and positions as well, so it's not unique to IT," LaRock explained. "Everyone should always make the decision that is best for them, but they should also recognize the grass isn't always greener."

He noted that ultimately, IT pros are weighing the same things as other people in their careers, including not only the pay but also flexibility and other benefits they value.

"I like to think that IT workers are satisfied in their careers because they know the work they are doing is critical to their organizations' overall operation," LaRock said. "When IT pros do their job well, everyone else just thinks these systems operate smoothly on their own. 'Regular people' don't realize how far-reaching IT is, but in reality, it's in every facet of our lives."

About the author

Nathan Eddy headshotNathan Eddy is a freelance writer for ITPro Today. He has written for Popular Mechanics, Sales & Marketing Management Magazine, FierceMarkets, and CRN, among others. In 2012 he made his first documentary film, The Absent Column. He currently lives in Berlin.
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