Press Release

UK technology industry in mental health crisis, says report

Wed 20 Sep 2023

Gigged.AI has revealed a report finding that IT and technology professionals in the UK are reaching mental health crisis point when it comes to burnout.

The report surveyed 255 professionals working in or managing digital transformation.

The Human Toll: An Emerging Crisis

A substantial 92% of respondents said they are experiencing some form of work-related stress, with over a third (36%) claiming to be ‘very’ or ‘extremely’ stressed, rising to 43% for 35-44-year-olds.

A third (33%) are doing an extra four to five hours work per week working outside their job description. A quarter (26%) have had to work whilst on holiday. And 27% of respondents are regularly working outside of their agreed hours, particularly in companies with more than 501 employees (35%) versus SMB with between 51 and 100 employees (18%).

This kind of chronic pressure is having a significant impact on mental and physical health, well-being, and workplace performance.

Due to work-related stress, over a third (37%) of respondents report spending less time with their family, rising to 54% of those over 45.

A quarter (26%) say they are less efficient because of the stress, a fifth (22%) have thought several times about leaving their job, which would turn up the pressure on those left behind in the workplace.

Nearly two-thirds (62%) lay the blame on the tech talent shortage, this rises to a massive 80% when looking specifically at senior management. Nearly half (47%) of those said the talent shortage has increased their workload.

Employers are also aware of the growing mental toll that tech shortages are taking on their IT and digital workers, as 69% say they offer mental health support to employees.

Another 69% of respondents say they would use such services if offered. However, a quarter of those are unlikely to use support services say they do not want work to know (24%) or they worry people will think their mental health challenges will impact their ability to do their job.

The Tech Skills Gap

A huge 90% of respondents said they are experiencing a tech skills shortage to some extent. These skills challenges are present across a wide sweep of technology and IT roles. However the biggest gaps are to be found in software development (37%), cybersecurity (37%) and digital marketing (36%). A lack of software development skills are a problem experienced by almost half of large companies with more than 501 employees (48%).

Things are getting even tougher with over half of respondents (57%) saying that the tech talent shortage has increased compared to last year, rising to 74% of those companies already experiencing it at a large extent.

The reasons for such extensive shortage of talent include not being able to find qualified candidates (34%) and a lack of budget (32%).

Whilst there does not seem to be the talent available, concerningly 58% of respondents said they have also experienced a hiring freeze in the past year in their company, which suggests there are bigger problems at hand.

The State of Digital Transformation

72% of UK businesses surveyed are currently taking part in digital transformation projects. However, just a third claim to be well on their way, with ‘a lot achieved’ so far. 48% at least have a plan in place, whereas a fifth (19%) admit there’s still much to do.

For those who are not currently making good progress on their digital transformation journey, the main reason given is that things are taking longer than expected (45%). A further third (30%) claim there is too much work to do and not enough people to do it, while over a fifth (22%) don’t have the right talent in place to do it, rising to 29% for those with a hiring freeze in place.

How Can Businesses Tackle These Issues?

With talent shortages and burnout reaching crisis point, it is time for organisations and policymakers to think about more flexible ways to tackle these challenges.

Over a quarter (27%) of those asked said they’re creating training programmes to upskill current employees, in a bid to plug talent gaps.

80% report that their company offers employees the opportunity to take on additional digital responsibilities, with more than half of them (44%) hoping to take advantage of this.

Nearly two-fifths (37%) of respondents also offer on-the-job training, and around a third are ramping up salaries (33%) and benefits (32%) for existing staff.

However, under a quarter (24%) of those asked are looking at more flexible options such as freelancers or consultants to fill the gap, and only 15% are looking at rehauling their approach to hiring.

There is also hope that technology could help in time to alleviate skills shortages. Generative AI in particular has been hailed for its ability to generate code and perform as a kind of virtual assistant, boosting worker productivity. Over half (52%) of respondents think tools like this will help alleviate tech skills shortages, although 44% have concerns about the ethical impact of replacing roles previously occupied by humans.

Gigged.AI CEO and Co-Founder, Rich Wilson, said: “As boardrooms continue to put their money behind ambitious digital transformation initiatives, the demand for digital expertise will only grow and it’s vastly outstripping today’s limited talent supply.

“Burnout is now reaching crisis point, and it’s time for management to step in with support. These concerning figures reveal that the tech talent shortage is indeed causing alarming levels of mental health stress for employees, and companies need to quickly assess their employee and hiring needs to ensure that their workforce is not leading to a severe and damaging case of burnout.”

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