Career development key to job satisfaction
By Patricia Kutza
While their jobs may not be providing them with rip-roaring excitement, respondents of the Win2000 Career Center Salary Survey are saying that they are pretty pleased with their current positions. In fact almost three-quarters of them report a modest to more than average sense of job satisfaction and a little more than ten percent say they are `very satisfied' with their work. So why then does an overwhelming majority of this contented group also report that they are considering changing jobs?
The easy and most popular theory says that it's all about the money. IT professionals with highly-prized skills in a very tight job market play salary-stick-em-up by raising their salary demands with each job hop. But this theory warrants a closer look. According to a recent Gartner Group IT Market Compensation study, enterprises that are experiencing high rates of turnover on average actually offer higher salaries. The Gartner study cites "lack of career development opportunities" as the single most reported reason employees leave companies.
Mark Pecoraro, president and CEO of SuccessFactors.com, a workforce management firm, tends to agree: "One of the things we see, assuming that compensation is not the issue, is the strong desire of these professionals to keep on the cutting edge. These employees are taking control of building their knowledge toolsets and essentially writing their own career tickets."
Sometimes it is a company's intrinsic structure that drives an employee's exit. INDUS Corporation, a Washington, D.C.-based IT firm, is a wonderful place to work, says SearchWin2000 salary survey respondent James Voorhees. Voorhees got his start in IT as an INDUS technical writer. Now, he works as a network administrator, crediting his employer for creating a work environment that let him develop the skills he needed in order to change careers.
"An important part of the company culture is an emphasis on employee satisfaction," Voorhees says, pointing to "the company's willingness to let employees try new things ... which has given me several great opportunities to learn and gain experience in networking and software engineering."
But INDUS' success relies on a steady stream of contract work. Voorhees believes that his status as an IT newbie makes him vulnerable if these contracts should dry up. As a result he has adopted a mindset that is ready to seize an outside opportunity if it should present itself.
Derek Nicoll, staffing specialist for the IT recruitment firm United Information Technologies, thinks that, at least for Win2000 specialists, job retention rates may increase when the market becomes more saturated with companies actively using the platform and trained professionals who can support it.
"With any newly-arrived technology," Nicoll explains, "there is a growth period which benefits the few trained in the skill. Once there is a genuine demand for the skill, more professionals will have the training and the high turnover rate should decrease."
Patricia Kutza is a technology writer based in the San Francisco Bay Area.
This was first published in October 2000