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IT gets its groove back

Mary Brandel | April 9, 2013
Salaries are rising, and bonuses are back. Though workload worries remain, optimism among IT employees is running high. Here's why.

During his time in the job market, Satyanathan says he observed a higher demand for and lower supply of IT professionals, and salary offers that were roughly 10% higher than job hunters' current salaries. Demand seems particularly high for people with expertise in iOS and Android development, Java, J2EE, application/enterprise architecture and agile development, he says.

Maurice Jenkins, director of information systems and telecommunications at the Miami Dade County Aviation Department, says salaries have suffered in his organization because of government spending cuts. With IT compensation improving in the private sector over the last year or so, he has seen 5% attrition among his staff as higher salaries are offered to people with in-demand qualifications such as Cisco networking certifications, Oracle development experience and expertise in forensics, firewalls and other enterprise security specialties, Jenkins says.

In addition to offering higher salaries, companies are wooing employees with quality-of-life perks like telecommuting, Ripaldi says. And in some instances they're offering better health insurance and other benefits, which had taken a hit in recent years.

Last year, Satyanathan declined to accept a position that delayed health insurance benefits for three months after the new hire's start date. "The hiring manager mentioned that the delay in the start of benefits was a sticking point for a lot of candidates," he relates, adding that a recent ad for a similar job at the same company stated that benefits would start on day one.

Workload pressures continue

If salaries and demand are up, so too is the pressure to perform. As they have for several years, survey respondents reported a disconnect between compensation and workload. Among those who said they felt more pressure over the past year to increase productivity (68%) or take on new tasks (75%), only 12% reported that their salaries had been adjusted to reflect the added workload.

In some cases, technological developments that were supposed to make IT's life easier are at least partly to blame. "Virtualization was supposed to make everything easier, right? Wrong," says George Theochares, IT director at Campbell Campbell Edwards & Conroy, a law firm in Boston. "They just expect more out of you. Where I used to maintain a dozen machines, I'm now managing 50 or 60 [virtual servers]." And as reliance on technology increases, business users' expectations are higher than ever. "In the past, if we were down a few hours or even a day, people didn't panic, but that's not the case anymore," Theochares says.

The consumerization of IT is also increasing pressure on tech professionals -- without an accompanying increase in pay. "In the last three years, it's become harder to keep up," says Eric Shaver, senior vice president of IT at The Plateau Group, an insurance holding company in Crossville, Tenn., that specializes in credit insurance and other loan-related products for financial institutions.

 

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