Survey respondents: Job security and satisfaction are critical to employee retention and business success
By Greg Timpany
Every fall for the last 10 years, Global Knowledge has surveyed the expanse of the IT market on key topics such as salary, skills development, current certifications, job satisfaction and more. There is a lot of data to analyze thanks to your willing participation. However, we rarely share the comments from the open field sections. In this article, we look at some of the more interesting comments from this year’s survey and next month when our 2017 IT Skills and Salary Report is released, we’ll dive into what the data says.
Job security, satisfaction, and the likelihood to pursue a new opportunity are intrinsically linked. IT decision-makers face a daily pressure to ensure their employees are engaged and feel supported by managers.
Treat staff like a strategic asset
Open communication and investment in employees are two ways to embolden staff and make them feel more secure in their role. Treat them like a strategic asset.
Ultimately, job security impacts job satisfaction. And if you’re not secure and satisfied in your job, you’re more likely to pursue employment elsewhere.
Here’s a comment from a respondent who likely doesn’t feel enabled by decision-makers and thus, is less secure in their position.
The chief operating officer (COO) doesn't understand value of IT's contributions to the company.
This is one of the most common threads we’ve noticed in the 10 years of conducting this survey. Just as a firm needs to market externally to position its products or services in the minds of consumers, the same can be said for internal departments. Without getting into the nuances of corporate politics, the comments we receive about thriving IT departments typically center on the ability of those departments to market themselves and align with the organization’s specified objectives.
Job security is tied to business initiatives
This approach often translates to the individual employee’s sense of job security. One respondent replied, I am doing good work, and I feel my coworkers and managers respect my skills and like me. Business is steady.
Other comments indicate a positive relationship between a sense of job security and being aligned with mission critical areas. Two examples include:
- The need for cloud and AWS skills has increased at my current position
- I have broad expertise in several areas, including Data Governance, Security and Compliance, all of which the company is committed to improving.
Job satisfaction is crucial for employee retention
While job security is critical for employee retention, satisfaction is more important according to our survey respondents. Those who lack fulfillment in their current job are significantly more likely to pursue alternative employment than employees who feel a lack of security.
More than 70% of respondents not satisfied in their current position are likely to seek a new position in 2017. This creates a multitude of problems for decision-makers. From a purely economic standpoint, replacing highly skilled technical employees can be costly—maybe even 20 to 30 percent of their annual salary. It gets even more expensive when replacing employees in leadership positions.
IT decision-makers need to be open and truthful in communication
The satisfaction gap between management and employees can also lead to a greater disconnect. According to our survey, IT decision-makers are more satisfied with their job than their staff counterparts. These decision-makers can’t assume members of their team are happy with their job just because they are. They must be in tune with their employees and maintain an open and truthful line of communication.
IT Pro job happiness is similar to other departments
The factors that bring satisfaction to an IT employee are not different from employees in other departments. These include the need for challenging work, management establishing and communicating a clear compass heading, fair compensation, and a courteous workplace. Sample comments from satisfied respondents include:
- Everyday new challenges and meeting new people give me utmost satisfaction in my job.
- Wanted to work in this area, got promotion so my salary increased, I love the work that I do in this area.
- I feel that my efforts on achieving Cisco certifications has made a difference in my knowledge, which lead to a promotion within the company.
- Flexible work hours, paid training days, and increasing responsibilities.
- Because I can put into practice what I have learned during my certification process.
Let’s look at the frustrated IT Pro and decision-maker comments
Strong opinions are not limited to those fulfilled by their job. Dissatisfied employees are not afraid to speak out and voice their frustration. Comments include:
- Because my ideas are not considered and the problems remain unresolved. The people's merits are not recognized, and the wrong people have decision-making power. They always make the usual mistakes.
- Current management team has not been able to articulate an operating model in over a year.
- I was thrown, without negotiation, into new position which doesn't really contest my knowledge.
Despite its reputation, the IT job market isn’t always fluid. Acquiring critical talent quickly is often challenging. The IT decision-makers who responded to our survey showed concern for the presence of skills gaps in their teams and the inability to close the gaps with new hires or training. Losing a team member can delay deployments, lower quality levels and damage employee morale.
Here are a few thoughts about what is causing these skills gaps:
- The unwillingness of the organization we support to provide budget resources commensurate with project needs.
- No training provided due to lack of executive support.
- We are still determining the exact skills we require to have in-house or externally sourced via contract.
- Very hard to find skilled senior level people.
- Training up apprentices within the business and providing enough time to aid their development. Working for longer on project delivery than initially scoped at our expense due to skills gaps within the organization.
A perceived imbalance of workloads is a concern that IT decision-makers are constantly facing. Along with salary, workload is a major contributor in the decision to seek new employment.
Meaningful work, communication and trust help retain staff
A disconnect between employees and senior management can lead to greater obstacles in the day-to-day workflow, and thus an unhappy workforce. Employees are more likely to thrive and remain in their current jobs if they find the work meaningful. The only way to know if employees are engaged and energized is for decision-makers to speak with them and find out what motivates them.
Without that open line of communication, the trust between employees and decision-makers can be blurred. And hearing their concerns isn’t enough; management must listen and follow through on actions to reassure and energize their team.
Does this senior management criticism sound familiar?
One respondent had some pointed criticisms of senior management and their apparent disconnect with employees:
Senior-level management has no clue what we do and sets extremely unreasonable expectations even when it has been explained to them repeatedly that we don't have the manpower to meet the expectations they set. They accept our revised expectations, after we give explanations for the revisions, and then immediately add more work on top of the process.
There isn’t a fail-safe solution to fix all problems within an IT department. However, the core themes presented in this year’s comment data are quite clear and offer valid suggestions for improving many of the issues facing technology teams.
Three steps IT decision-makers can take to alleviate employee concerns:
- Management should be clear in their communications with internal teams—set a compass heading and be transparent about it.
- Allocate budget and time to keep technology skills up to speed. This drives employee satisfaction, can lower employee turnover and can even allow for a higher degree of project success.
- Accept that skills gaps are part of the equation and factor that into hiring, training and/or outsourcing plans.
At the end of next month, we release our annual IT Skills and Salary Report, which will provide a much deeper dig into our survey data. We’ll provide plenty of valuable information for the IT Pro, IT decision-maker and Human Resources personnel.