A recent survey suggests many technology executives may share a common holiday wish: more support. Forty-three percent of CIOs interviewed said their IT departments are understaffed in relation to current workloads.

The survey, developed by Menlo Park, Calif.-based Robert Half Technology and conducted by an independent research firm, was based on telephone interviews with more than 1,400 CIOs from companies across the United States with 100 or more employees.

CIOs were asked, "How would you describe the staffing level of your IT department in relation to current workloads?"

Ten percent answered "very understaffed," 33 percent said "somewhat understaffed," 53 percent said "at the appropriate staff level" and 3 percent said "somewhat overstaffed." The remainder said they didn't know or had no answer.

Within the professional services sector, CIOs in the health services industry noted an even greater discrepancy between staff levels and workloads, with more than half (52 percent) reporting that their departments are understaffed.

"Many companies have cut technology staff levels too deeply, making it challenging for IT departments to keep pace with demands," said Dave Willmer, executive director of Robert Half Technology. "Although businesses may be able to operate with stretched teams in the short term, being perpetually understaffed isn't sustainable and can detract from the overall productivity and morale of the organization."

To keep projects on track and prevent burnout, Willmer recommended that IT managers bring in extra support, if only for a short duration. "Contract professionals can assist with workload spikes or major one-time projects, relieving the burden on existing staff and ensuring the timely completion of mission-critical initiatives. Hiring on an interim basis also is a good way to evaluate someone for a full-time role."