A new survey by the Association of Professional Engineers, Scientists & Managers, Australia (APESMA) about the state of the Australian ICT workplace has highlighted the dire effect the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) has had on local IT professionals.
Among the many facts uncovered by the report, titled At the Crossroads, Barriers to Rebuilding ICT Capability Post-GFC, the most significant discovery was that 58 per cent of ICT professionals are looking to change jobs in the next 12 months.
Candle executive general manager, Linda Trevor, said the reason for this high figure comes down to workers wanting to earn more money and thus feel the need to play “catch up” with other professionals.
“During the GFC there were virtually no increases in salaries or hourly rates,” Trevor said.
“Many ICT professionals took full time and contract roles that paid less than what they had had previously earned, so now they are looking to move roles if they can get an hourly rate or a salary similar to what they were receiving pre-GFC.“
The high number could also be attributed to a strong return to growth in IT jobs in the last year, as well as a long term reduction in numbers of new ICT workers entering the jobs market, leading to a strong demand for skilled IT workers.
“Large scale, transformational IT projects, such as the major banks’ core systems upgrades, the smartgrid projects in the utilities sector and strong hiring in the resources sector, are presenting IT workers with a wide range of new opportunities,” Peoplebank CEO, Peter Acheson, said.
“IT workers know that when demand is strong as it has been: there is a wealth of opportunity to progress their careers, and many are looking to take the next step especially in terms of achieving career progression and or a salary increase.”
This is a sentiment that is echoed by HRO2 director, Bob Olivier, who also sees the market improving considerably since the GFC, resulting in some professions “playing catch up now that they feel more confi dent about earning and learning more.”
While it is clear that some IT professionals are always looking towards new opportunities to grow their skills and remuneration, the more worrying concern is that the high number of workers wanting to change jobs may be related to workplace morale, or lack of it.
Although many companies are managing to keep their IT staff loyal, over 40 percent according the survey, there are still several things that managers can do to raise worker morale and ensure that their workers stay satisfied in their position.
“Our research shows that strong visionary leadership, a culture of inclusiveness, and interesting work and projects are the three strongest drivers of IT retention, followed by career opportunities, remuneration and the working environment,” Peoplebank’s Acheson said.
“We recommend that CIOs and senior executives look at these motivators, and take a strategic approach to retaining key workers, rather than relying on a reactive, tactical approach.”
Candle’s Trevor said worker retention comes down to the employees being listened to, acknowledged and recognised by their superiors.
“They want to be managed fairly and have clear expectations set to them and followed up,” she said. “Being offered training also raises morale as it makes workers feel they are worth investing in, however at the end of the day most workers want to be respected and heard.”
For HRO2’s Olivier, worker satisfaction comes down to staff engagement, with managers and business owners working hard to understand what makes their employees tick and respond accordingly.
“A lot of managers focus on the reward side but its far more complex and comes down to a variety of factors including recognition, leadership and trust, interest and variety of work, opportunity to learn and develop, team and working conditions,” Olivier said.
With many ICT workers considering moving jobs due to the above factors, there are potential pitfalls that professionals should be aware of before changing workplaces.
“Be very strategic when you’re considering a job offer, because constant job hopping for the sake of a pay rise increase will work against you in the long run,” Acheson warned.
"It’s in your best interests to have a solid career plan, one that includes working with the platforms of the future which will give you more opportunity to develop depth and breadth in your career, and are more likely to position you to work closely with the business and broaden your career horizons.”
Olivier recommends professionals focus on sectors enjoying growth not those struggling in order to benefit from the current demand, with Trevor also seeing many new opportunities for those who are keen to make a career change.
“If it’s going to benefi t the ICT worker in the long term and is paying the right amount of money, then I would say move,” Trevor said.