IT topping the charts of unpaid overtime

It comes as little surprise for those of us in the business to learn that IT staff work more unpaid overtime than almost any other profession. A survey by the TUC (Trades Union Congress) has discovered that IT managers work in excess of nine hours per week on top of their regular contracted time. If they were paid for this time, they could expect to add 10,000 to their annual salaries.

The practice of unpaid work is most keenly felt within technology companies, with around 40 per cent of the overall workforce working freebie hours on a regular basis.

To try to combat the problem, the TUC decreed February 25th as ‘Work your proper hours day’, encouraging employees to go home when they should and urging employers to thanks staff for their efforts. This is a commendable move by the TUC to highlight the issue, but it doesn”t address the root problem. Clearly, there is pressure across all industries to work for free, such is the fear of job security today, and eliminating this culture is outside of the scope of a short article like this.

However, those of us working in IT must look at the message we are sending out by operating in this manner. By working so many extra hours without complaint, are we in essence eroding the value of what we do? Other departments will take us for granted and expect us to put in yet more hours if the issue isn’t solved.By allowing this to continue, we precipitate the idea that IT delivery is merely a time / cost related issue. Therefore, if workers in other counties are willing to work more hours for less money, then why shouldn’t our paymasters consider sending our function offshore?

At some point, we must begin to show exactly what these extra hours equate to in a business sense and demonstrate what would happen if staff refused to work in this way for much longer. In fact, we should go even further than this and begin to detail how with better resources and extended powers, we could drastically reduce the hours worked and provide a more cost effective service which is more relevant to the business requirements. IT is not just about cost, it is about supporting the business and propelling staff to work better.

The longer IT continues to maintain its corporate silence on these issues, the more down trodden it becomes. Other departments understand that they have to justify their worth to the Board and now is the time for IT to start doing the same. We all know the impact that good IT can have on the business, and we all know the perils that befall a company with poor IT. Isn’t it time we started shouting about what we can offer rather than just getting on with being overworked and under appreciated?