How To Lose Your Best IT Employees - InformationWeek
IT Leadership // Team Building & Staffing
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Chris Murphy
Chris Murphy
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How To Lose Your Best IT Employees

Ignore what motivates people in their jobs and they'll eventually leave. Our IT Salary Survey provides data you can use to cultivate your top performers.

3. What matters surprisingly little: leading-edge tech, promotions, culture ...

Potential for promotion is cited by only 18% of staffers and managers. As mentioned earlier, company culture isn't hugely important (19% of staff). My guess is workers don't care about "culture" per se--a culture of valuing people matters only if it results in good pay and benefits and flexible work schedules, which rate high on the "what matters" list. But in terms of actions CIOs can take, look at two other data points that rate low on the importance scale.

The first is that neither staffers nor managers are all that worried about their work being important to the company. This is interesting: IT pros find it very important that their opinion and knowledge are valued, but they aren't very worried about their work being important to the company's success. For IT staffers, the percentage that cited each of these factors as important are:

My opinion and knowledge are valued: 40%

My work (job) is important to the company's success: 22%

It's not necessarily that IT pros don't care about contributing to company success. It's that the contribution matters only if they're recognized for that effort. People don't get an inherent "I helped the team" warm-and-fuzzy; they get it from "I helped the team, and the coach knows it." It's the age-old need for CIOs to recognize good work.

The second point is that working with leading-edge technology and creating innovative IT solutions rank low in what matters to employees--each with only 21%. We like to think of techies as always jumping on the latest and greatest, but the data suggests not everyone's wired for that degree of change.

chart: reasons for seeking a new job

This finding doesn't mean IT leaders needn't worry about keeping people on fresh projects. For a healthy segment of tech pros, "new" is their drug, and if you deprive them, they'll find it somewhere--either by pushing new things inside your company, or going elsewhere if that approach is discouraged. We tend to think of craving the "latest and greatest" as part of the IT pro DNA--the data suggests it isn't. So CIOs can't presume that most IT pros they approach with a hot new project will do cartwheels over the chance. And if CIOs are recruiting for someone to constantly do this kind of "latest and greatest" work, they need to screen carefully.

To find out more about Chris Murphy, please visit his page.

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User Rank: Apprentice
5/11/2012 | 8:08:58 PM
re: How To Lose Your Best IT Employees
With possibly the exception of Compensation, the rankings most likely do not reflect the needs/wants of Global IT staffs. European and AsiaPac staffs have different value sets.
User Rank: Apprentice
4/24/2012 | 8:15:54 PM
re: How To Lose Your Best IT Employees
I think this data does provide some insight, but I would have to say that innovation is a big part of some people wants (they may not be needs). Some people are perfectly happy keeping the lights on, while other want to build and innovate. I think the data being somewhat mixed implies there are a couple of different groups responding. Like most things, it is management's job to find out what makes each employee tick and to help them accomplish those goals if possible (it may not be accomplished with every project, but making an attempt when possible can go a long way).
User Rank: Strategist
4/23/2012 | 7:41:02 PM
re: How To Lose Your Best IT Employees
The relatively low ranking of innovative solutions and leading edge technology is surprising particularly when you consider that number of CEOs/CFOs/COOs that believe this is the key to their strategic advantage (I would have at least expected it more significant on the IT management side). What is all the talk then about clouds and virtualization/consolidation of infrastructure? Why are a good majority of job advertisements including statements of "current certification" regardless of the history of the individual since they obtained that certification.

In fact, the IT management side is a little disheartening where we see the top of the list with high pay and respect with flexibility and ample time off. Then, where one might expect a key focus on issues related to business strategy and company culture integration with the technical side, these aspects don't even break 30 percentile. Kind of says, stroke my ego while I do my own thing doesn't it? Is it any wonder IT is still viewed with skepticism.
User Rank: Apprentice
4/21/2012 | 4:32:48 AM
re: How To Lose Your Best IT Employees
I think culture isn't important on a survey... but it influences you and your team every single day, in every meeting, every crisis, every trip to the over priced soda machine, every... those that have a bad culture - marked it as important - or bailed.
Rich G
Rich G,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/20/2012 | 5:45:52 PM
re: How To Lose Your Best IT Employees
Interesting, particularly about "culture" not being important. My observation from years in IT delivery as well as the consulting industry is culture is very important as being in an environment where one's opinions and contributions are valued is a key element of culture.
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