It’s no secret that STEM careers (science, technology, engineering and math) have been a driving force behind economic growth in recent years. In fact, this continued success will allow IT workers to switch jobs in 2014. According to a new survey from CareerBuilder and Sologig.com, its job site for IT and engineering professionals, 2014 may be a particularly active year for turnover: 25 percent of full-time IT employees plan to change jobs this year, up significantly from 15 percent last year.
In the last several years, a spotlight has been shining on the technology field, which has experienced low unemployment and is projected to grow rapidly over the next decade. With technology breakthroughs happening at a fast pace, and consumers and businesses becoming more and more reliant on technological services to complete tasks, skilled workers interested in entering the booming field have found plenty of career opportunities.
Knowing this, employers have had to compete to recruit and retain top IT talent. IT companies large and small are offering unique work environments and generous benefits to lure prospective employees. Yet even with the steps companies have taken to create an ideal workplace, retention is a perennial challenge for many and will continue to be in 2014.
Job satisfaction a factor
Any number of factors may play a role in influencing IT workers to seek new opportunities, but job satisfaction often bears significant weight. Indeed, the survey shows that a drop in job satisfaction may account for the expected rise in turnover. Sixty-five percent of workers are satisfied with their jobs, down from 72 percent in 2013. Nineteen percent report being dissatisfied, up from 12 percent last year.
Yet, even though more IT workers are experiencing dissatisfaction, the satisfaction rate remains higher than the average for all workers, which fell to 59 percent this year from 66 percent in 2013.
Workers aware of a strong job market
While increased turnover may be bad news for IT employers, it can be viewed as a positive sign for the tech job market. Workers are voluntarily leaving their jobs because they believe they have solid options for career growth outside of their current organization, which indicates healthy job demand. Also, when job opportunities are coming to IT workers without them proactively seeking employment, it’s another signal of the technology field’s stamina – 27 percent of IT employers report that in the past year they have been recruited by organizations without having applied for a job.
How companies can keep top talent
The IT field is known to be lucrative, offering workers across occupations competitive pay. For example, look at the national average salaries for computer software engineers: applications ($95,748), database architects ($89,046) and Web developers ($84,648), according to data from CareerBuilder’s Compensation Portal.
While compensation can impact an IT worker’s decision when considering a new position, the survey finds that some aspects of the job are more important than salary. The following percentages reflect the share of IT workers who rank each factor above their paycheck:
- Job stability: 69 percent
- Location: 64 percent
- Good work culture: 60 percent
- Affordable benefit plans: 57 percent
- Good career advancement opportunities: 40 percent
- Ability to telecommute: 40 percent (compared to 19 percent for workers in all occupations)
- Ability to offer flexible schedules: 40 percent
- Learning opportunities: 40 percent
Employers who want to build and retain a strong team will have to focus more on incentivizing their best tech talent by providing advancement or development opportunities and a workplace culture that suits their needs.
Eric Presley is the chief technology officer at CareerBuilder.com, where he is responsible for overseeing strategic technology initiatives and the execution of technology infrastructure.