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IT workers: Higher salary, higher pressure

Rey Vicente | Aug. 2, 2011
Despite swollen workloads and job-related stress, IT professionals are compelled to do their tasks well as performance remains a big influence in salary increases.

Despite swollen workloads and job-related stress, IT professionals are compelled to do their tasks well as performance remains a big influence in salary increases.

Majority of the respondents feel they are compensated fairly and expecting to get a salary increase this year. Though many of them expressed satisfaction with their current jobs, some may be thinking of looking for new opportunities as they feel they are earning less.

These are some of the highlights of the IS Salary, Job Satisfaction and Career survey conducted by Computerworld Philippines Research Group from March to June 2011.

In a results-oriented industry like IT, the compensation or salary hike is based on how an employee performs or what he has accomplished in an organization. The survey indicated that 39% of the respondents believe annual individual performance is the biggest factor that determines whether a worker will be given pay increase or not.

Like individual performance, the yearly company performance also plays a vital role in granting increases in remuneration, according to 26% of IT professionals. A company which performs lucratively can grant pay increases or bonuses to its personnel although it is dependent on the management's approval.

Forty one percent of respondents reported that the company's IT budget, including personnel costs, is another factor which greatly affects the salaries of IT workers. The profitability of the company, which is the basis for arriving at a budget for each department, still drives the annual salary increase of the personnel. When business is good, firms can offer competitive salaries or pay hikes, but when business is down, companies are not committed to paying high compensation or granting salary increases.

"With our budget sets for all IT personnel, all compensations, trainings and salary increases are within its scope," said an IT manager of an advertising company, who also concludes that "if the budget is too low, nothing really happens to the employees, making them think of leaving the company."

Comparable to Industry Standards

Unlike the past years when most IT professionals claimed they were not contented with their salaries, 47% of this year's batch of survey respondents described their compensation as comparable to industry standards while six percent were glad to say that they are enjoying compensations higher than the industry standards.

Although majority of respondents reported their companies keep a good job of keeping their salaries at competitive levels, they however still feel the increased pressure of performing their jobs. Describing his IT employees as happy with the pay checks they are getting, Jonathan Caldoza, IT manager of Global-Link MP Events International, Inc., also confirmed that he is satisfied with his take home pay but uprightly remarked, "the job is really demanding in return."

While most respondents expressed satisfaction with their salaries, on the other hand, 47% felt they are paid less than they are worth, implying the IS salary levels in their organizations as lower than industry standards.

Although receiving lower compensation is not a reason to be discontented with the work they are doing, it does affect the morale and performance of the workers. This makes them think of looking for other firms that offer competitive salaries.

"It does affect the work and performance of the employees especially if the salary is not really coping up with the standards, and most importantly with the expenses in everyday's life," said an advertising firm's IT Manager.

He also mentioned what the outcome of this plight will be. "What usually happen in these situations is that some minor problems are ignored and just prioritize on the immediate urgencies that the employees are undertaking in their daily tasks. Given this situation, every worker is willing to abandon ship anytime, which is one of the scariest things that could happen to the company," he added, explaining that "we cannot push that person to stay because they lack the motivation and respect, as well as the capabilities and therefore, could really cause a lot of problems to the organization."

Majority of respondents described pay increases as below average to average with 62% claimed they got an annual salary hike averaging from a low of 5% to a high 15%. Given the average inflation rate of 3.8% last year, which rose to an average of 4.2% during the first five months of the year, these rates in pay hike are considered modest, and contribute to further improving the purchasing power of these professionals.

The survey revealed that a mere two percent of the respondents got a salary increase of more than 15% while some 36% disclosed that the hike in their pay was lower than five percent.

Meanwhile, whether these workers are getting low or modest salaries, most respondents or 68% expect to get a salary increase this year as against 32% who do not hope to get, or are not sure of receiving any increase in their compensation.

While these employees are grateful that they are earning a living, they still desire incentives that their companies can provide to boost their remunerations. Aside from the annual salary raise, 37% of the respondents claimed their organizations provide benefits by way of profit-sharing; 29% reported their firms granted team performance bonuses to their employees; 22% of companies granted bonuses (13th, 14th, 16th, midyear, quarterly); anniversary bonuses were given by 19% of establishments; bonuses for completion of a major project were granted by 17% of respondent-companies while 10% provide retention bonuses.

However, these incentives, together with their current salary rates, are not the only factors that satisfy IT workers. They still are on the lookout for companies that offer enticing compensation. And since money or higher salaries equal greater job satisfaction, it can be concluded that for some, money does buy happiness -- at least at work.

This is the reason why most respondents expect to receive salaries that are higher than what they are actually getting. They desire to receive compensation of 10% to 200% more for the same position currently assigned to them if they were connected with another establishment.

Top Career Motivators

For majority of IT professionals surveyed, learning new skills; career path/growth; job security; satisfaction of helping the company run efficiently; and working with cutting-edge technologies, are the top career motivators, aside from financial reward.

When asked how learning new skills and working with cutting-edge technologies motivate employees to further improve their career performance, Caldoza said, "I assign my staff IT projects where they can enhance their field of specialization."

The IT manager of an advertising entity, on the other hand, revealed that he is personally a fan of modern technology. "I want to see what the future holds for us. I have that drive that wants to collaborate what's new to everything that we do in our lives, but still considering values to imply on what we have today. It's like a basic analogy that when you have a 'new toy,' who won't want to try and play with it?"

Regarding the factors that will make an IT employee enjoys his job better, the survey enumerated the top five in terms of importance: higher pay, bonuses, access to new technologies, promotions, and job security. On the other hand, the top five least important are: less administrative work, telecommuting, overtime pay, flexible hours, child day care program, and staff welfare and recognition system.

The survey also disclosed that information security, project management, networking, web development, and programming as the skills which will help IT professionals further their career if they can learn them this year.

High Job Satisfaction

Despite experiencing greater stress from swelling workloads, job satisfaction is still high, with almost nine out of 10 respondents being either "very" or "somewhat" satisfied with the responsibilities or the work assigned to them. In contrast, 11% were not satisfied with their jobs.

Majority of the respondents claimed that the level of job performance in their IT department is improving. While 45% said the performance level in their worksite is stable, three percent disclosed it is declining. On the other hand, the level of job satisfaction in their department is improving, according to 21% of respondents. Sixty five percent says satisfaction is stable in their department while 14% revealed it is declining.

The respondents listed the factors that contributed to the increase in satisfaction as follows: exposure to new technologies/challenges; good relations with the management; increased authority/freedom in decision making and promotions/pay increase. On the other hand, the decline in satisfaction was brought about by work overload, understaffed/downsizing, and lack of leadership direction.

For 53% of the respondents, job satisfaction is more important to them as against 47% who prefer career development. An advertising firm's IT manager, who chose career advancement as most important over satisfaction, had this to say: "I believe when you're satisfied with what you do, you don't notice everything else. It makes things easy. You're having fun with what you do, and most of the time you do better than what you normally can do. Thus, if everybody else feels and knows you do better, it makes career advancement a piece of cake."

IT & Business Savvy

Meanwhile, sixty six percent of the respondents believe that it is to their advantage if they participate in both the business and the technical aspect of the IS job. While 22% said they like to participate more in the technical side, 12% reported they like to participate more in the business aspect of their job.

"Since I'm also a Business graduate, I consider business as my alternative source of income while working in an IT environment," Caldoza said. 'It is an advantage if I will focus on one aspect only but this time, you cannot just have one source of income for a living," he added.

Whether male or female, employees in the majority or 86% of the worksites surveyed were treated fairly. They were evaluated based on their performance and were paid equally for the same jobs. Only 13% claimed that male IT workers in their organization get paid more than women while one percent said it does not hire female IT professionals.

High Stress Levels

Meanwhile, due to the expansion in job responsibilities, the level of work-related stress in the IT department of most organizations is still high. In 45% of firms surveyed, increasing level of stress is still being felt compared with the 13% of respondents who said stress levels in their companies was lessened. Forty two percent disclosed the level of stress is still the same with that of the previous year.

Certification is an essential factor to improve job performance, making IT professionals more productive in their work. However, for 70% of respondents, certification of IT personnel is not so important. In fact, more than half of those surveyed said that a certified IT employee in their organization do not receive higher monthly pay check than those without certification. While 21% of respondents said IT certification is very important, nine percent claimed it is not at all important.

Another contributing factor to job performance development is training. Although the respondents were provided training opportunities by the organizations where they were employed, 52% of these reported they were not satisfied with the trainings they received. On the other hand, 48% said they were satisfied with the trainings they had.

Money Buys Happiness

Generally, no person would leave his job unless he gets a really good opportunity somewhere else. In this situation, money or salary is usually involved to some extent. This was confirmed by the survey when majority disclosed better offer from another company as the main reason for leaving their current job.

To advance to higher management role and personal development were the next biggest reasons for IT personnel to leave the company and his job. Maintaining a technological environment conducive to keep the best IT workers happy is very important. Challenging technological opportunities and new stuff must be assigned to them to develop their craft and will not get bored.

When asked what IS job abroad interests them, 36% of respondents chose IS management, 18% said networking and communication while 17% claimed technical consultancy. While 19% reported there was no particular job they were interested at the moment, the remaining respondents selected systems development, technical support and Internet and other online jobs.

Regarding the country where they expect to work, 32% said they want to work in Europe, 30% said US and Japan, while Saudi Arabia was the choice of 21% of respondents.


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