Employees have become risk averse in the modern economy, and to keep those that are most talented and dedicated, a company needs to provide 4 key incentives. Fair pay, interesting work, adequate training, and simple recognition for tasks well done. This has been widely overlooked, and never been more important than as we head into economic recovery.
Overall, according to InformationWeek’s IT Salary Survey data, IT remains a well-paying profession. For IT Managers, median base salary is $103,000 and total compensation is $111,000. For IT staffers, median base salary is $81,000 and total compensation is $85,000. Ten IT management job functions earn $120,000 or more in median total compensation, up from two last year. By title, the best-paid staffers continue to be IT architects, whose median total pay tops $100,000. Project Management cracked the six-figure mark for the first time, at $105,000 median total compensation. CIOs often talk about the importance of Project Managers, but we haven’t always seen that respect reflected in paychecks. Perhaps that’s changing.
IT people leave organizations for a variety of reasons, and pay is at the top of the list. For the first time in the last 11 years of InformationWeek‘s annual U.S. IT Salary Survey, the median raise for IT professionals in 2010 is 0%. If this remains the trend, the value that a company gains by having experienced IT Managers, staff and consultants around will soon be at risk. The longer an employee has been with a firm, the more integral that employee should be to the organization. They hold knowledge and experience that others may not, and have undoubtedly made the connections within the organization that allow things to get done effectively and efficiently. Those long term employees need to be challenged and stretched, for their own benefit, and to maximize their value to the organization.
The fallout of a long, deep recession is obvious in Informationweek’s data:
- 40% of IT pros report a pay freeze, compared with 26% in 2009.
- 15% have had their pay cut, compared with 6% in 2009.
- 29% have had their benefits scaled back, up from 17% in 2009.
- Only 23% say the economy has not impacted them professionally, compared with 34% in 2009.
Another reason often cited for leaving an organization is a lack of recognition. That is too bad, because recognition does not have to cost an organization a single red cent. It does require a manager to make an effort understand the employee’s job and daily routine, pick up on periods of additional workload, and seek out examples of when results worth praising have been achieved. It also requires sincerity, the ability not to heap praise on a single “pet employee” as that will undermine the efforts completely, and to provide some form of value to be returned to the employees for their performance.
Without adequate training, the employee starts to feel under-appreciated, concerned about becoming obsolete, unprepared for the new technologies or techniques, and will look for their own ways to remain relevant, up to date, and connected. If they are making the investment in themselves, what good reason can you think of for them to roll that investment into your business? To keep their job? That is not an incentive, that is an insult. You are very short-sighted as a manager if you create your budgets and strategies based entirely on today’s economic situation.
Stretch your employees by getting them to work outside of their comfort zones in areas that they have expressed an interest. Make it clear that you will support them if they are unsure what steps to take, or who to connect with. Explain to them that the company will gain from their “above and beyond” efforts, that you are looking to provide an opportunity for them to show others what they are capable of, and that taking risks can be a rewarding experience. It must be clearly understood that failure is simply a learning exercise. There should be no PENALTY for failure if genuine effort was expended. Otherwise, no one in their right minds would EVER take risks.
For IT leaders, stagnant pay and job security concerns raise strategic staffing issues. Does the company have the right people and skills if they have to grow? Can they hold on to people once the hiring starts, or have their hiring freezes, pay cuts, and layoffs taken too big a toll on morale? As the economy shifts gears, IT leaders must be ready with a staffing and salary strategy.