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IT workers get itchy feet

IT workers get itchy feet

Employees working in the technology and communications industries are more likely to leave their jobs in the next 12 months than those across other sectors, a new national study has found.

The job satisfaction survey, conducted by Mercer Human Resource Consulting, was based on a study of 1200 employees from across all industry sectors. According to the results, the average national job turnover rate was 23 per cent. However, in the IT sector, turnover reached 31 per cent.

There were a number of reasons for why workers became dissatisfied with their positions, Mercer practice leader for communications, Sandy Hutchison, said. These included poor leadership within the organisation and a lack of comprehensive company objectives.

"Having a clear sense of purpose, goals, clear objectives are important in any organisation," she said. "Often communication and being treated with respect is also critical in retaining people. Things like pay - people think you have to add a bonus scheme in place, but it's more about whether there is a greater sense of progress in place."

In the case of the IT industry, there were more specific issues, such as the higher percentage of contract workers, which contributed to a higher turnover of staff, Hutchison said.

"IT is a lot more transient and has a more casual work environment with a lot of contractors," she said. "This can influence loyalty and commitment more so than in traditional organisations."

The tumultuous nature of the industry had also contributed to lower employee morale.

"Employment contracts in IT have been a real bust and boom," Hutchison said. "There have been a lot of layoffs, and a lot of uncertainty."

For example, IT was once seen as the best sector for graduates to get into, she said.

"But now this is not so clear a career path," he said.

While most industries could suffer from poor leadership, the lack of management skills particularly in the IT industry was also a potential cause of turnover.

"A lot of managers [in IT] come from a technical background," Hutchison said. "They have no training in effective communications or leadership." This in turn, could lead to problems with communication between management and staff, she said.

The new worker satisfaction study is the first by Mercer in Australia. The company has conducted similar surveys in the US, Canada, the UK and some Asian countries.

Hutchison said one interesting point within the Australian landscape was the stronger focus on colleagues, rather than monetary rewards.

"The key thing is to focus on understanding what employees think," she said. "Don't wait for the turnover of people. Do surveys, have management talking to people. It's amazing how much you can learn by getting the overall mood, or feedback on middle management, where there's often a block in communication."


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