Stress is an undeniable fact of the modern workplace, and is often especially felt in the IT world. IT administrators face long hours, multiple demands, unexpected problems, and the knowledge that one small glitch can cause catastrophic results. Add in the fact that IT administrators essentially report to everyone in the company and you have recipe for job burnout and high turnover.

In the SMB world, where IT administrators often work with extremely limited resources and few or none of the failsafe and backup mechanisms usually employed by larger enterprises, stress problems are felt even more acutely. According to a new survey of IT administrators at small- and mid-sized businesses from GFI Software, a provider of security and networking software for SMBs, 68 percent of SMB IT administrators either occasionally (43 percent) or regularly (25 percent) consider leaving their jobs due to stress.

People, Deadlines Biggest Stressors

Not surprisingly, the top three sources of stress for SMB IT admins are the bugaboos popularized by the “Dilbert” comic strip: people and deadlines. Specifically, SMB IT admins cited: management (28 percent), tight deadlines (20 percent) and the users they support (18 percent). And the effects of this stress can be debilitating. Nearly one in four (22 percent) SMB IT admins say they don't feel great physically, while one in five (20 percent) say they have experienced stress-related health issues such as high blood pressure. So beyond  basic compassionate concern for their employees’ well-being, SMBs also need to realize that left unchecked, chronic stress among their IT administrative personnel is a huge negative in terms of increased absenteeism and healthcare costs.

MSPs as Stress Busters

To paraphrase the catchline from a classic 1980s Bill Murray comedy, who are SMBs gonna call about the stress issues plaguing their IT admins? Stress Busters! Or more specifically, they will call upon the stress-busting services which MSPs can provide.

How exactly can MSPs ease the job-related stress of SMB IT admins? In a variety of ways. By providing 24/7 automated management and exception-based monitoring services, MSPs can allow IT admins to leave the office at a reasonable hour without fears of the IT operation collapsing in their absence. Delivery of software as a managed service also greatly diminishes the responsibility of the IT admin to ensure that software is available and functioning properly, while greatly increasing availability and proper function levels. Security also becomes a major burden taken off the admin’s weary shoulders, and issues relating to people and deadlines will become much less severe as the general effectiveness, efficiency and user-friendliness of IT increases as a result of managed services enablement.

Nobody is saying MSPs will make the job of IT administrator at an SMB non-stressful, but they can bring stress down to a much more manageable level, resulting in happier, healthier employees who show up more frequently, are more motivated to do their jobs, have fewer health problems, and stay in their jobs longer. Come to think of it, MSPs can reduce the stress of SMB HR personnel and senior managers, as well.