Employees’ frame of mind is considered at high-frequency trader Optiver, which topped BRW’s 2013 Best Places to Work list.Photo: Nic Walker
Software engineers are the luckiest workers on the planet. They have the best conditions, employers who pamper them, they are paid well and are encouraged to believe their efforts help make the world a better place.
And you couldn't find a more laid-back crew. Often cycling into work in their T-shirts and trainers, they slouch off for coffee as other commuters stress out about their first meeting of the day.
Who wouldn't want to be a software engineer?
It is no wonder, then, that Optiver, Atlassian and NetApp Australia take the top three places on BRW's 2013 Best Places to Work list: if you need to employ the new "rock stars" of the jobs market, you had better provide something special. At least 20 of the top 50 employers on the list could be described as IT companies. High-frequency trader Optiver is a finance company that hires a lot of software engineers.
GOOD TALENT DOESN'T GROW ON TREES
The managing director of Great Place To Work Australia (which produces the Best Places To Work List), Zrinka Lovrencic, says the reason that IT-related companies provide the best working conditions is a combination of three factors:
- • A worldwide shortage of good software engineers;
- • Profitable employers with unmet demand for staff;
- • A population of well-educated Generation Ys with great expectations.
"These companies are very well aware of this and they are being proactive."
A decade ago, financial services companies were topping the best employers' lists, building state-of-the-art high-rise temples for their staff to work in, while splashing out on salaries, work-based childcare and parental leave.
However, the global financial crisis turned off the money tap and brutal redundancy campaigns mean that most will need substantial recovery time before they can start competing for best employer status again.
Lovrencic says superior conditions for IT workers are likely to be more sustainable than those in financial services - and employers from other industries are having to follow their lead.
UPGRADE TO COMPETE
Because software is now an integral part of most businesses, employers are having to compete with IT companies for their technical staff - which means lifting their game.
Software engineers think of work as fun, want a say in how their work is done, may want an ownership stake in the company, have time off to work on their pet projects and hold their meetings over a game of pool.
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