• United States
Executive Editor

Tech support teams understaffed by 42%

Apr 19, 20112 mins
Data CenterIT Jobs

Ratio of IT support staff to employees is nowhere near ideal, survey finds

Today’s tech support teams are significantly understaffed, which leaves staffers juggling too many requests for help and end users suffering long wait times to get that help.

In a survey conducted by Robert Half Technology, CIOs said their companies’ technical support teams are, on average, 42% smaller than what they would consider ideal. Currently, the mean ratio of internal end users to technical support employees is 112 to 1. When asked about the ideal ratio, the mean response among 1,400 CIOs polled was 65 to 1.

IT PERKS: Would you take a pay cut to telecommute?

Small firms are furthest from their ideal technical support ratio, while midsize companies are closest.

“As companies implement upgrades and invest in new technology, it becomes more challenging for technical support professionals to keep pace with end-user demands,” John Reed, executive director of Robert Half Technology, said in a statement. “Unfortunately, the time employees spend waiting for technical help can result in lost productivity.”

One suggestion from the firm — which is in the business of staffing IT pros — is to bring in extra helpdesk personnel during peak periods. “Interim help desk professionals can fill in during employee absences or when call volume is extra heavy, due to new software implementations or systems conversions,” Reed said.

And if overtaxed helpdesk staffers get sick of the workload, several indicators suggest it’s a good time to be job hunting.

IN DEPTH: Want a new IT job? Now’s your chance

In a separate survey, Robert Half Technology reports that 9% of CIOs are planning to expand their IT departments in the current quarter, and just 2% are expecting cutbacks.

IT jobs site currently lists 77,365 available technology and engineering jobs, including full-time, part-time and contract positions. That’s up 25% from last April, when Dice listed 62,067 open tech jobs.

Last month, Dice warned that IT tech talent poaching is expected to get more aggressive this year. A combination of factors — including growing numbers of unfilled job openings and underpaid employees who want more lucrative jobs — is causing a hiring rush that’s expected to worsen.

Follow Ann Bednarz on Twitter: