What’s (Still) Causing ITSM’s Well-being Issues?

Well-being in ITSM

In 2020, ITSM.tools published an article examining the causes of well-being issues in IT service management (ITSM). Two years later, we ran another set of correlations based on the survey data collected in our 2022 well-being survey. Please keep reading to find out what, if anything, has changed with the causes of well-being issues in ITSM.

What has changed with the causes of well-being issues in ITSM in the last two years? This @ITSM_tools article explores. #wellbeing ITSM Click To Tweet

First, here’s a quick reminder of the possible causes identified in the 2020 survey.

The 2020 survey well-being causes

  • People who thought that working in corporate IT would get harder over the next three years commonly didn’t believe that their personal efforts, and their value to the business, were sufficiently recognized by management.
  • Respondents who felt that working in IT is adversely affecting their personal well-being also didn’t think that their personal efforts, and their value to the business, were sufficiently recognized by management.
  • Respondents that didn’t feel working in IT was adversely affecting their well-being made up nearly the total vote for working in IT not getting harder over the next three years.
  • The perceptions of line-manager skills for identifying and dealing with well-being issues were strongly linked to the views of organizational mechanisms for dealing with well-being issues.

The survey questions informing the 2022 correlations

The 2022 survey asked seven questions:

  1. Do you think working in corporate IT will get harder over the next three years?
  2. Do you feel your personal efforts, and your value to the business, are sufficiently recognized by management?
  3. Do you feel that working in IT is adversely affecting your well-being?
  4. Do you feel that home working has adversely affected your well-being?
  5. Do you think that your immediate manager is suitably skilled to identify and deal with employee well-being issues?
  6. Does your organization have suitable mechanisms for preventing and helping employee well-being issues?
  7. If you work at home, or in a hybrid manner, how do you find it?

This article shares the most interesting correlations when comparing the answers to these seven questions.

This article by @ITSM_tools shares the most interesting correlations when comparing the state of well-being in ITSM in 2020 vs. 2022. #ITSM #wellbeing Click To Tweet

The link between personal recognition and the future view of working in IT

The respondents who stated that their personal efforts are recognized were more than twice as likely to think that working in IT is not going to get harder over the next three years (the gray bars in the chart below).

This correlation reiterates the correlations found in the 2020 survey – that recognition, the future view of work, and well-being are all strongly linked.

Q1 (harder future) and Q2 (recognition)
Chart 1: Q1 (harder future) and Q2 (recognition)

All charts are described as “horizontal data text” first and “vertical data text” second.

The link between well-being and the future view of working in IT

The survey respondents who stated that working in IT has not adversely affected their well-being were more than twice as likely to think that working in IT will not get harder over the next three years (the blue bars). This insight underlines the link between recognition, the future view of work, and well-being.

Q1 (harder future) and Q3 (well-being issues)
Chart 2: Q1 (harder future) and Q3 (well-being issues)

The link between line-manager capabilities and the future view of working in IT

This correlation showed that it’s not just the provision of recognition, or not, that affects how we feel about working in IT.

The survey respondents who think that their line manager is not suitably skilled in identifying and dealing with employee well-being issues are most likely to think that working in IT will get harder over the next three years (the blue bars).

Q1 (harder future) and Q5 (line-manager capabilities)
Chart 3: Q1 (harder future) and Q5 (line-manager capabilities)

The link between personal recognition and well-being issues

The adverse impact of a lack of personal recognition on well-being is unmissable in Chart 4 below. Although, as with all correlations, we must appreciate that “correlation does not imply causation.” So, for example, using the “chicken and egg” argument, well-being issues could have caused the lack of recognition.

The lack of personal recognition appears to be a significant root cause of the #wellbeing issues reported in #ITSM. Click To Tweet

However, as with the correlations from the 2020 survey, the lack of personal recognition appears to be a significant root cause of the well-being issues reported in the 2022 survey.

Q2 (recognition) and Q3 (well-being issues)
Chart 4: Q2 (recognition) and Q3 (well-being issues)

The link between personal recognition and line-manager capabilities

Based on the survey data, line managers with well-being-related skills (the orange bars) are more likely to be perceived as recognizing individual performance.

Q2 (recognition) and Q5 (line-manager capabilities)
Chart 5: Q2 (recognition) and Q5 (line-manager capabilities)

This relationship could be caused by line managers receiving superior well-being-related training and education. But it could also be simply a sign of better people managers – with those managers perceived to provide deserved recognition also thought to be alert to well-being issues and the need to help.

The link between corporate well-being-handling capabilities and issues

As with the 2020 survey data, where an organization was thought to have suitable mechanisms for preventing and helping with well-being issues, there was less likely to be serious issues (the orange bars). In Chart 6, the blue bars represent no issues, and the orange bars show considerable issues.

Q6 (corporate capabilities) and Q3 (well-being issues)
Chart 6: Q6 (corporate capabilities) and Q3 (well-being issues)

The link between corporate well-being-handling and line-manager capabilities

Again, as with the 2020 survey data, there’s a link between corporate and line-manager well-being management capabilities. This link could be that line managers are influenced by the corporate mechanism or, playing the “chicken and egg” card again, line-manager concern over issues might have promoted the creation of corporate capabilities.

Well-being in ITSM 2020 vs 2022 correlations shows the connectivity between fit-for-purpose corporate capabilities and the respondent perceptions of line-management skills. #ITSM #wellbeing Click To Tweet

Either way, the data shows that the two capabilities are linked. The near 90% orange bar shows the connectivity between fit-for-purpose corporate capabilities and the respondent perceptions of line-management skills.

Q6 (corporate capabilities) and Q3 (well-being issues)
Chart 7: Q5 (line-manager capabilities) and Q6 (corporate capabilities)

What this all means

As already mentioned, we need to remember that “correlation does not imply causation.” However, two years on from the 2020 survey, the linkages are still evident:

  • Employee well-being and future positivity are strongly aligned with the perceived level of personal recognition received
  • Suitable corporate and line-manager capabilities improve employee well-being, with the former influencing the latter.

Given that the core data reported in our “The State of Well-being in ITSM in 2022” article shows that issues are increasingly prevalent, isn’t it time that we – as an industry – did something to address the probable root causes?

If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health and/or well-being issues, please know that there is help available via charities such as Mind and Mental Health America.

Stephen Mann

Principal Analyst and Content Director at the ITSM-focused industry analyst firm ITSM.tools. Also an independent IT and IT service management marketing content creator, and a frequent blogger, writer, and presenter on the challenges and opportunities for IT service management professionals.

Previously held positions in IT research and analysis (at IT industry analyst firms Ovum and Forrester and the UK Post Office), IT service management consultancy, enterprise IT service desk and IT service management, IT asset management, innovation and creativity facilitation, project management, finance consultancy, internal audit, and product marketing for a SaaS IT service management technology vendor.

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