What Will Keep Tech Pros at a Job: Bigger Salary or Interesting Work?

When deciding whether to stick with a particular job, salary is the most powerful factor, according to a new survey by Dice and the Linux Foundation.

The two organizations surveyed 750 hiring managers at corporations, small- to midsize businesses (SMBs), government agencies, and staffing firms worldwide, in addition to 6,500 open-source professionals. Of the tech pros, some 81 percent said that a higher salary was a top incentive to change jobs, while 74 percent said they’d move in order to work on new and exciting projects. Roughly 61 percent suggested they’d jump in order to secure a more flexible work schedule.

On the flip side of that coin, some 30 percent of respondents said that a higher salary would keep them in their current job; some 19 percent said that new and exciting projects would do the same. Another 14 percent were willing to stick around for a better work-life balance, and 10 percent would stay for a flexible work schedule and/or telecommuting options.

If you’re a project or product manager who needs to keep your tech pros in the proverbial saddle, but you’re working with a tight budget, offering more interesting work could prove an excellent incentive. Tech pros generally like a challenge, and learning new skills; they don’t like performing the same rote tasks over and over again.

Alternatively, working with tech pros to establish a more flexible work schedule can also do wonders in terms of retaining top talent. While many employees don’t mind working a “traditional” workweek, more than a few tech pros would relish the chance to perform their tasks on their own schedule, even if that means working from midnight to 9 A.M.

“Only 3 percent [of respondents] said money and perks were the best thing about their jobs, the same as last year,” read the report accompanying the survey. “Thirty percent cited the ability to work on interesting projects, collaborate with a global community (19 percent) and the opportunity to work on the most cutting-edge technology challenges (16 percent).”

Money isn’t everything, in other words; tech pros are attracted to particular jobs by so much more—which is actually good news for managers who know what to offer.

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