IT May Be In for High Staff Turnover in 2014

IT staffs face pressure at work and growing opportunities elsewhere

CIOs and the technologists who work for them have vastly different ideas of who has a good job and who’s going to be looking for a new one someday soon, according to a new survey report.

Seventy-two percent of chief information officers (CIOs) believe 72 percent of the people working for them have job satisfaction levels of either four or five on a five-point scale, according to a phone survey of 2,300 U.S. CIOs published Oct. 17 by national tech-employment firm Robert Half Technology.

A survey of IT workers conducted at the same time found that 35 percent plan to look for another job during the next 12 months.

Another 35 percent are on the bubble – unsure of whether they will decide to look seriously for another job during the next year or not. Only 30 percent said they’re satisfied enough to stay put for now.

Those IT worker opinions are likely more negative than that of the general population of IT workers. The survey included 7,500 responses, which is far higher than most of its kind, but was conducted online among respondents who volunteered to participate. Online surveys seeking opinions on career issues tend to produce more negative responses to career questions because the surveyed population is already online looking at job-search or other career sites.

The CIO survey, on the other hand, followed the kind of specifications that make pre-election surveys credible in big voting years. It was conducted by phone from a random sample of U.S. companies with 100 or more employees in 23 metro areas.

That only means the results may be less dramatically skewed in real life than in the survey results, not that the perception of the CIOs is more accurate than that of the IT workers in the web survey.

The top reasons given by those who said they will be searching for new jobs suggests the current job market is one in which people are looking for opportunity, however, and not trying to escape layoffs or other symptoms of a bad economy, according to John Reed, senior executive director of Robert Half Technology.

People skilled in the hot technologies of the moment – and mobile app development and networking are two of the hottest right now – always have lots of job opportunities, Reed added.

It’s possible for managers to keep those people from leaving by offering top performers the chance for more responsibility, training, experiments with new technology and other opportunities to shine in addition to the usual pay raises and perks. An economy depending heavily on tech projects for growth after a long fallow period makes nearly everyone in IT more attractive to other employers than the average corporate employee. And many technology staffs, trimmed by hiring freezes and budget cuts, are ripe for change according to a survey from Forrester Consulting that was also published Oct. 17.

The survey found that half of senior IT managers said their departments are being asked to do too many things at once. Thirty-four percent said they don’t get a clear idea of strategic direction from their own managers; 34 percent said they lack the developers and specific skills needed to get high-priority projects completed, and 32 percent complain that project stakeholders can’t agree on consistent goals.

A tandem survey of business-unit managers found that only 39 percent thought the IT staff could regularly deliver projects on time and on budget.

Fewer than 50 percent said they were satisfied with their current IT staff.

Even at that low satisfaction level, however, a Robert Half salary survey shows top management still expects the average IT staffer to be 39 percent more valuable than the average new finance hire.

The survey projects that IT salaries will increase an average of 5.6 percent during the next 12 months, compared to 3.4 percent in finance and accounting, 2.7 percent in legal, and 3.3 percent in administration-and-office-support.

But not every IT job is equally valuable. CIOs and CTOs are penciled in for only average IT salary bumps – 5.3 percent and 5.2 percent, respectively.

Meanwhile, mobile app developers and business intelligence analysts are both on track for 7.6 percent, wireless network engineers are set for 7 percent, software developers are up for 7.7 percent, data architects for 7.2 percent and pre-sales engineer/technical engineers (at IT-product companies) lead the pack with 8.4 percent.

Other details are available using this online tool, or by downloading the full report. (PDF, no registration required) iQoncept