Most IT professionals are unhappy and would not recommend their workplace as a ‘great place to work’.

According to the report Technically happy: Is Australia’s tech industry happy? – commissioned by tech recruiter Halcyon Knights – Australian and New Zealand tech workers rate their happiness at just 6/10, compared to the global average of 8/10.

Workers aged 45-54 years were the unhappiest, while the happiest were the young ones (18-24 years) and more senior workers (65+ years).

With Australian companies crying out for experienced technology workers, boosting happiness levels would help retain and attract staff, said Lincoln Benbow, CEO of Halcyon Knights.

“Happiness is not about work perks and free food," he said.

"Instead, employees need to feel respected, empowered and surrounded by positive attitudes and behaviours,” he said.

“As retention and performance rates fluctuate across the country, the business case for a renewed focus on morale is huge."

With 82 per cent of workers saying work is an important part of their life, and 97 per cent saying happiness at work is important, it should be a priority to keep workers happy.

“Studies show that happiness can boosts productivity by 12 per cent, and improves an employee’s ability to get salary raises or perform well,” the study found.

“In fact, your brain literally performs better when fuelled by positivity.

“With such powerful results, Australia could easily remain one of the top-performing tech industries in the world if we start building our workforce up.”

Almost half said their company’s senior leadership teams’ attitude and behaviour had a negative influence on their happiness, and more than two thirds of workers said their managers’ behaviour and attitude affected their happiness.

Almost 70% of tech workers admitted they didn’t see a future for themselves in their current job.

Why so sad

Three quarters of respondents said they had experienced stress because of work and had subsequently become less productive at work.

Unhappiness was also fuelled by unrealistic expectations from the boss (63 per cent) and a lack of work life balance (55 per cent).

Australian techies are known to work long hours, and a staggering 57 per cent said they regularly worked outside normal business hours to complete expected work.

Bullying and discrimination in the workplace was another contributing factor to unhappiness with 40 per cent saying they had been subjected to such behaviour.

On the upside, colleagues’ attitudes and behaviours (63 per cent) were the main influencers of happiness at work, followed by flexible working policies (53 per cent) and the opportunity to do meaningful work (49 per cent).

Salary rated just 47 per cent, indicating money is not the prime driver of happiness at work.

What can we do?

According to the report, there is hope.

"The good news is that we know exactly where the issues lie and how managers can address them," Benlow said, outlining three things employers can do to turn around happiness levels amongst tech professionals:

  • keep employees engaged and introduce “free work” time to have them innovate and problem solve a business or customer issue;
  • sell and live a great employee value proposition and hold regular pulse-checks to ensure it is meeting employees’ needs;
  • Forget ‘presenteeism’ where bosses feel the need to see bums on seats. Flexibility is key, and workers are demanding the ability to work remotely.

Some 906 technology professionals were surveyed for this report. Almost 49 per cent of respondents were from Victoria, 31 per cent from NSW, and the rest spread across the other states and New Zealand. The majority said they worked in mid-level, senior level and manager positions, and earned between $70,000 and $150,000.

Are you happy in your current role? If not, what is the cause of your unhappiness? We’d love to hear your thoughts below. Information Age managing editor Roulla Yiacoumi personally reads all reader comments.