How To Lose Your Best IT Employees - InformationWeek
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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.

Two out of every five IT pros are looking for a new job, our 2012 U.S. IT Salary Survey data shows. Are you counting on high unemployment, or maybe that rickety foosball table in the lunchroom, to keep your best people from leaving?

IT leaders have the advantage here, and not only because of the shaky job market. Most of those IT job seekers are only casually looking, and based on how highly our data shows they value job stability, they'd rather stay where they are. So if IT leaders understand the few, critical job elements that matter to their employees, they have a good shot at retaining them.

So let's look at two data sets from our survey: what matters most to IT pros in their jobs and, for the 39% who say they're actively or casually looking for a job, why they're looking. You can find more details in our slideshow and in the charts below, so I'll just make a few comments on why people leave and what matters most and least to them. Feel free to share your own analysis in the comments section.

1. Why people leave: money, and ...

Higher pay's by far the top reason people are looking for a new job (cited by 70%). No shocker--fall behind the going rate for compensation, and people walk. But half of staffers and 42% of managers are also looking for more interesting work, and slightly more than 40% are looking for more personal fulfillment. About 30% want more responsibility. More than half of all survey respondents said they'd consider a lower-paying job for more job satisfaction.

[ Want more on IT careers? Read 2012 IT Salary Survey: 12 Career Insights. ]

One of the most interesting reasons for looking for a new job, cited by 41% of staffers and managers, is disliking the company's management or culture. That finding is particularly interesting when you consider that culture is way down the list of what's most important to employees (cited by just 19% of staffers) and effectiveness of immediate supervisor is even less important (14%). Perhaps employees don't necessarily seek out a great culture or manager, but when those things go wrong, they can drive them away.

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2. What matters most: pay, stability, influence, and ...

For managers, the top priority is having their opinion and knowledge valued--a few points ahead of pay, challenge, and stability. For staffers, the top factors are pay, stability, benefits, flexible work schedule, having their knowledge valued, challenge, and vacation. Look at that list. How many of those things does the CIO have free rein over? Valuing knowledge and challenge, and to a lesser degree the work schedule. Things like pay, benefits, and vacation are all part of larger corporate policies, so CIOs need to cultivate a strong partnership with their HR colleagues to keep their best people.

chart: what matters most

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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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