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Four Steps CIOs Can Take to Mitigate IT Employee Fatigue

Gartner Report Says 8 out of 10 CIOs Don’t Address Burnout with Their Staff

Technology research firm Gartner advises chief information officers to include discussions about fatigue and burnout in order to reduce employee turnover and achieve better results in network management efforts, according to a new report. 

“Employees are dealing with an unprecedented amount of change since COVID, and they are fatigued of change,” Gartner said. 

“Any employee is dealing with digital acceleration, staff departures, having to adjust to various working models, and many more workplace disruptions, and they are exhausted,” said Gartner VP Analyst Daniel Sanchez-Reina. “When unmanaged, employee fatigue is impacting the success of technological initiatives.”

Even organizations with solid change-management plans and appropriate culture change efforts are finding that their CIOs aren’t achieving the desired results from their IT staff, he said. “This is because they overlook a critical factor, which is change fatigue,” said Sanchez-Reina.

Gartner defines “change fatigue” as negative employee responses to change such as apathy, burnout and frustration. 

“Fatigue hurts an employee’s performance … and also decreases a workers’ ability to make decisions, solve complex problems and communicate,” said Sanchez-Reina.

How CIOs Can Reduce Change Fatigue 

1) Treat Change Fatigue as a Business Issue: Gartner research found that eight out of 10 CIOs don’t make fatigue a regular part of their conversations about business technology initiatives. “CIOs should factor change fatigue into their planning initiatives by adding a fatigue evaluation” Gartner’s report said. “It should be arranged as a discussion with business partners and should include, at a minimum, the level of effort each initiative requires and how to combine the day-to-day with the initiative.”

2) Distribute Change Leadership: Gartner’s report advises CIOs to “establish a distributed leadership, like assigning overseers and tactical decision-makers dispersed across the organization, who have a closer contact with workers and can change directions when fatigue rises. Distributed leadership also spreads the burden of decision-making, another key cause of stress.”

3) Co-Create Execution and Involve Stakeholders: The “most successful organizations” make change decisions in cooperation with both top executives and lower-level employees, and they “involve IT and business stakeholders in change management,” Gartner said. CIOs should also “set guidance for how their teams should do their work, which helps ensure that the multidisciplinary teams share accountability for results and focus on delivering business outcomes, not merely completing a project plan,” the report said.

4) Care About the Emotions of Change: “Since a positive or negative emotional impact builds a positive or negative long-lasting memory in our brain, it is critical for CIOs to create a mental track record of as many positives as possible,” Sanchez-Reina said. “For example, some companies include 'listening to the drawbacks' sessions in the change plan, where employees have the chance to openly share their concerns. This initiative replaces the occasional venting moments in the water cooler or vending machine, making those concerns manageable.”

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About the Author

Kristal Kuykendall is editor, 1105 Media Education Group. She can be reached at [email protected].

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