Tech Pros’ Biggest Pain Points: Balance, Housing

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Although tech pros have enjoyed a strong economy and low unemployment over the past twelve months (the tech industry’s unemployment rate hit a 19-year low in May, in fact), many of them are nonetheless unhappy. Some have issues with work-life balance, or their commute, or the cost of living in their city. What are the biggest pain points? Click through the following slides (accessible via the numbers below) to find out.Complaints Slideshow Image 1

Housing Crisis

Tech hubs such as San Francisco and New York City are appealing to many professionals, but living in major metropolitan areas comes with a major downside: housing costs. According to one Dice survey, only 12 percent of tech employees in those hubs believe there’s enough available housing. Even in cities that don’t qualify as tech hubs, a mere 23 percent of pros think there’s adequate living space.

For those technologists who feel that they’re not earning quite enough money to survive in a high cost-of-living area, the advice is pretty straightforward: get roommates, take advantage of whatever deductions and free entertainment you can, and gain whatever skills you potentially need to level up (including the often-overlooked “soft skills” such as communication). All that aside, though, many technologists are migrating to areas with a lower cost-of-living where your salary dollar stretches much further.Complaints Slideshow Image 2

Too Expensive

In those major tech hubs, 46 percent of those surveyed complained that housing is too expensive. The situation gets a lot better in cities not considered hubs, where a mere 20 percent of tech pros think they pay too much for housing.

For example, according to a recent survey by Hired, some 53 percent of tech professionals said they’re compensated fairly given the cost of living in their city, while 47 percent do not. If you want the most band for the proverbial buck, you move to places such as Detroit, Raleigh, Tampa, and Portland, where $500,000 will buy you a house instead of a studio apartment.

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Gridlock

Traffic congestion is a common complaint among those tech professionals who live in the major tech hubs, with 48 percent saying they face too much traffic congestion during their commute. Compare that to cities not considered major tech hubs, where only 32 percent of those surveyed complained about congestion.Screen Shot 2016-01-08 at 3.47.40 PM

Mass Transit

There simply isn’t enough mass transit, according to Dice’s survey. Nationwide, only 8 percent of tech pros thought there were enough public transportation options. No wonder major tech firms such as Google have begun offering company shuttles in San Francisco.Screen Shot 2016-01-08 at 3.39.19 PM

Turnover

According to Payscale, the average tech employee has a tenure of 3.68 years at a particular company. And lots of pros are willing to move, with 50 percent telling Dice that they would transfer cities for a new gig. Some 52 percent said they’d even move to a different region or state altogether.Screen Shot 2016-01-08 at 3.32.49 PM

Work-Life Balance

Work-life balance is a common complaint among tech pros, with 45 percent telling Dice that they wanted more of an equilibrium between home and office life, but that their company wouldn’t allow it. Nearly a third said that work-life balance in the tech industry is a myth.

However, studies show that working remotely has a direct effect on whether technologists think they’ve achieved a good work-life balance. And with salaries tending to level off across the country, more employers are willing to negotiate for flexible schedules and remote work in lieu of giving out raises; if you bring up the issue with your boss, they’re more likely to allow you to establish your ideal schedule.Screen Shot 2016-01-08 at 3.36.00 PM

Disconnect

Only 5 percent of tech pros felt that work-life balance wasn’t a priority for them; some 75 percent thought it was important. Despite complaints from tech pros, HR staffers seemed to feel that their employees had what they needed, with 67 percent reporting workers at their respective companies as having good work-life balance.Screen Shot 2016-01-08 at 3.34.26 PM

Balancing Act

What conclusions can we draw from this data? Companies that want to retain their tech pros can consider benefits that encourage work-life balance, such as flexible schedules and telecommuting. Perks that alleviate issues with pay, commuting, and housing could also boost employee morale as a whole.

5 Responses to “Tech Pros’ Biggest Pain Points: Balance, Housing”

  1. Joe/Jane Doe

    Let us work from home! I’ve been preaching this for years. In addition to an immediate eradication of all the ‘tech woes’ listed in this article, most people could get more done without the distractions of an office. I want to hear the one-sided conversation on a conference call from the guy in the next cube about as much as he/she wants to hear my one-sided conversation.
    The biggest hurdle/challenge in one’s work day really shouldn’t be getting to/from work. Companies could hang on to employees if they allowed them to work from home.

  2. Software Sweatshop Worker

    At my company the managers are allowed to work from home, but not the rank and file programmers. It is really, really aggravating and obnoxious.

    The usual argument that managers have against work-at-home, i.e. they need someone to bark at in person, does not even apply in our case since they are sitting in their cozy little house while we slug it out on the highways.

  3. Joe Duncan

    I was interested in reading this article, but as soon as I realized you split it over *9* bloody pages, I completely lost interest.

    I am never going to read any content on your site unless you put it all on one page, I am not interested in generating ad hits for you.

    Goodbye!

  4. Baby sitting a specific culture and demographics of IT programmers that work for lower rates and promise management they can deliver on anything, I have spent most of my time babysitting and correcting countless errors they make. So my workload and time spent at work increase significantly the last 10 years. Hey, but they are saving money? Thank goodness I am at end of my career. Anyone thinking about a career in IT should think again

  5. The 9 pages distill to these points:
    1. Housing costs in metro areas.
    2. Commute gridlock
    3. Lack of mass transit
    4. Turnover (3.6 year average tenure)
    5. Lack of work-life balance

    Points 1, 2, 3, and 5 can be solved by allowing tech professionals to telecommute with flex time. I’ve had the ability to work remote with flex time with multiple employers for over 7 years.

    Regarding #4, that’s often tied to work-life balance or personality conflicts. Plus in this environment, it’s easy for tech professionals to find other positions since their skills are in high demand.

    Employers, make 2016 the year of the telecommuting. It’s green, will make your employees happy, and will reduce attrition.