When I first started thinking about this article, things were good. Businesses were doing well, the stock market was happy, and employees were experiencing the diminishing necessity of spending hours commuting to work. Remote work had become a reality and, with it, the need to work themselves to death evaporated. For companies that did not keep up with their employees’ discovery that there truly is such a thing as work-life balance, that rest isn’t earned but necessary, that micromanagement is dead – long live productivity – well, those companies lost their employees to competitors who treat people better.
And then, to oversimplify, employers started forcing employees back into the office so employees started resigning, COVID was still globally surging in waves (yes, it still is), and there was that little tiff in Europe where Russia invaded Ukraine (and, with it, many countries enacted sanctions against Russia). With all that and more, economies across the world began to falter. Now we’re teetering on the brink of a recession (at the time of this writing, that is; the needle may have moved by publishing time).
So what’s different now than during the height of the Great Resignation? How do you know if it’s time to find something better? How do you find what you want rather than “just another” sysadmin job?
How Does A Recession Impact Me?
Let’s address the most pertinent question first: you may well be wondering how a recession impacts you. I am not here to give financial advice…you should have a financial advisor for that. From a work perspective, I can say that many companies are engaging in freezes or layoffs. Both are scary propositions, of course. If doomscrolling is your jam, you can track layoffs at major companies over at this site. It may be time to leave your current job. But it might make sense to stick with it while the economy shakes out…if the job is still good and your mental health isn’t being adversely impacted by the company.
Most importantly, if you’re stuck in an untenable situation, I strongly recommend seeking out a mental health professional to deal with the stress that comes with this turn of events. Y’all, there is a LOT happening in the world right now. Take care of yourselves.
I see a lot of stress in the IT community. It seems like folks are stuck. Or maybe they’re participating in “my users are worse than your users”; enjoying the angst that comes with being in IT (some folks thrive on pressure, amirite?). The toughest part about the angst is controlling the frustration and anger.
A lot of the stress and anger are seen in the complaints about employers, bosses, and users. Users yell about terrible IT support. Bosses demand more from us IT folx. Employers don’t compensate as if their employees are valued (free pizza, free snacks, and beer don’t pay the rent; also, these things keep us tethered to the desk, not the company). And IT support feels this way about users (if this is how you feel on a daily basis, you may be stuck in a bad job or a bad company):
Ohmigosh peepuhl – we have got to treat each other better, k?
With all this pressure to do more with less and for less, it is no wonder that people are leaving their jobs in droves. We’ve had a lot of time to work from home, where we don’t have to worry about the formalities or restrictions of office life. Given the right employer, WFH/WFA has shown us that employees are more productive, more satisfied with their work, and happier than working from the office.
Ask For What You Need
Still, even with WFA, too many of us IT Admins are unhappy with work. I say “us” because, at my core, I am still an IT Admin. During the last 4 years of my time as a sysadmin/consultant/MSP, I was unhappy; grossly and depressingly unhappy.
Yes, there were a couple of clients who loved me, who I enjoyed hanging around. But for the most part, the work itself became drudgery; a day-in-day-out-answer-the-same-question-20-times type of drudgery combined with way too many instances of “why did that cost $x when you only spent YY time”. So much so that I found myself staving off situational depression, biting off peoples’ heads for ridiculously non-important transgressions, and taking out my unhappiness on those closest to me. Yeesh, I was a hot mess.
Looking for a job was no better. I submitted a lot of resumes online but never could get past the ATS. With a resume as full as mine, it was easy to see that I was “overqualified” (read: too old) for any of the jobs I was applying for.
The most valuable thing I did was continue to build and deepen my network. Within that network, I asked for what I needed. I sent it out “to the universe” that I really needed to be done with day-to-day IT work. And “the universe” heard me. A great opportunity was offered to me and, well, I am happy.
I’m out of Admin work, but I am always connected to the community. I mean, seriously, I will always be @alwaysdns. Some IT will never leave me. I still enjoy geeking out now and again but today I feel more balanced, less stressed. I guess what I’m trying to say is that if you’re unhappy with the work you’re doing, you can change jobs. Or, you can change careers to something you will find more satisfying, more in line with the kind of life you want to live.
Waiting For The Right Job
While many companies are laying off staff during this economic crisis, IT Admins are still in demand and companies are still searching for good IT Admins with good work ethic. And in spite of there being layoffs, the jobs numbers are still good. Payrolls have increased and unemployment is holding steady according to the latest job reports. We’ll have to watch carefully over the summer to see how the numbers go if we do experience a recession.
Employers are finally seeing that real pay and real benefits are what we want – a coffee bar, unlimited snacks, and a gym membership isn’t going to make up for garbage pay. After-hours bar hangouts aren’t what employees want – they want to go home to their families, knowing that they’ve been fairly compensated for their work. Employees want to be NOT working during non-work hours. They want WFA (because nobody enjoys commuting). They want reasonable PTO, covered health insurance, a 401k, and parental leave. And employees don’t want to shill for their company on social media if that’s not part of their job description.
The cool thing is, all of that is becoming increasingly possible. Companies have been shown their options and the Great Resignation showed the world that there is a shift to employees demanding respect, appreciation, and proper compensation for their work. The ball is in the employee’s court and it’s up to employers to retain them. The tables are turning.
Job applicants are interviewing companies as much as companies are interviewing applicants. Worker bees are done settling; done begging for a job. Folks understand their own value to a company and are demanding to be taken seriously.
This shift is represented in this infographic displaying 350+ professionals’ top reason they did not pursue a recent job opportunity:
Are you declining job offers? Have you taken extended time off to shake out the cobwebs? Is your company forcing you back to the office? Have you recently been laid off? Have you voluntarily resigned? Are you looking for or have you recently taken a new position? Share your best advice for overworked, overstressed colleagues in the JumpCloud Community.