IT Governance

5 Steps to Avoid Burning Out Your On-Call IT Staff

Any business is susceptible to emergencies. Worse is when these situations occur outside working hours, and on-call IT staff are called up to bat. While this is all part of the job description, it can still get old. On-call staff can “erupt” if you challenge the limits of their patience. In an article for, Sarah K. White counts five crucial steps that businesses need to take to avoiding burning out the staff:

  1. Weed out applicants.
  2. Define an emergency.
  3. Have resources in place.
  4. Establish best practices.
  5. Be reasonable.

Stay within the Lines

The responsibilities of an on-call staff require going the extra mile for the company—keeping an eye out for a phone call at midnight, missing family gatherings to fix and report on a crisis, etc. You have to make sure that your staff know the nature of their job and willfully accept it. Be honest and up front in the interview process so that you don’t hire applicants who find the reality much harsher than the job description.

If you already have a good on-call staff team, don’t exploit them—they’re not your personal helpers. Not every incident is an “emergency” that requires immediate action. If on-call workers constantly lose their sleep for some totally manageable and non-emergency issues, they’re going to grow resentment for the job. On the other hand, if they really have to solve emergency incidents, plans should already be in place for how staff can quickly reach out to other resources for help. Training and team practice drills could help here.

It’s easy to go overboard when things seem to work well, so remember to always take a moment to reflect and remind yourself of your ethical values. Pay attention to the schedule, hours, frequency, and work occasion of on-call staff. They’re humans who have families and a life outside of work, too—give them some time for themselves. White adds this:

You should also firmly establish on-call support hours, a rotating schedule, documents outlining what’s required of on-call staff, supply them with the right technology to work remotely and incentivize their work, says [Sharon Andrew, PhD, at Happiest Minds Technologies]. Recognize these employees for their hard work and create a system that will reward them for their on-call work. Their jobs aren’t easy, and being on-call is not something your typical employees have to deal with, so a little recognition will go a long way.  

You can view the original article here:

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