Are You Paying Your IT Talent Enough?

Recent survey data should send IT leaders and CIOs running to check on their most valued employees as technology professionals in 2014 have more confidence in their talents and less satisfaction in their compensation.

Research released this week from show that not only are U.S. technology professionals feeling more like they could change employers, but they are also indicating a lower level of satisfaction with their current salaries., a leading online job board for technology professionals, this week released the results of the 2013 Dice Salary Survey, which was administered online with some 17,236 employed tech pros responding between October 14, 2013 and November 29, 2013.

The Dice data shows not only that tech pros feel “they can easily find new ways to grow their career in 2014,” with two-thirds of respondents (65 percent) confident in finding a new, better position, but also that the same professionals are less satisfied with their salaries (54 percent down from 57 percent indicated they were satisfied with their salaries). The numbers point to some good news for IT job candidates, but could indicate a more concerning predicament for CIOs and IT leaders depending on their talented staff to execute key IT initiatives in the coming year.

The survey showed that 45 percent received merit raises in 2013, with less experienced IT pros seeing salaries increases and more seasoned IT vets seeing bonuses as compensation rewards. Those results don’t change the fact that 68 percent of those anticipating changing employers will do so for higher compensation.

“With the tech unemployment rate low, technology professionals know they can take control of their careers,” said Shravan Goli, President of Dice, in the Dice Tech Salary Survey report.

It makes sense with industry organizations such as Dice reporting that mobility, big data and other skills are causing some serious spikes in salaries for IT pros. Separately, Foote Partners, LLC also recently released the latest research from its quarterly IT Skills Demand and Pay Trends Report, which revealed that the average pay premiums for IT certifications rose for the third consecutive quarter ending December 31, 2013. Also the report showed that pay for noncertified skills also increased slightly in the fourth quarter.

What this means for CIOs, IT leaders and employers is that they need to work to retain the talent they want in house and work probably harder to attract the new skills they need to tackle emerging technologies and disruptive trends such as big data, mobility, DevOps, cloud, enhanced IT security and more. Dice reported that in 2009 53 percent of employers provided “motivators” to retain talent. In the 2013 data, 66 percent of employers are now looking to inspire loyalty via motivators such as more interesting work (17 percent), increased compensation (17 percent), flexible work location/telecommuting (10 percent) and flexible hours (9 percent) -- to name a few of the incentives tracked in the Dice survey.

“Tech hiring managers tell me they are stretching budgets where they can to keep their technology work forces focused and satisfied,” Goli stated in the report.

That brings up the dilemma for many. IT budgets have been cut or flat for many organizations for several years. And when the money is allocated to IT, some IT organizations must choose to invest in hardware refreshes, software tools or other technology expenses ahead of people. Yet people are one of the CIOs biggest assets. Many companies cut training programs during budget tightening, which can be a mistake. If IT leaders cannot invest in their staff, how can they expect loyalty when their staff and their specialized skills become the most valuable assets they have in house?

The good news for IT professionals is that the market is recognizing the value in the knowledge, skills and experience they hold. The bad news for IT leaders that don’t act now is that they could lose the in-house talent to a higher bidder and suffer the repercussions of falling behind the technology adoption curve. It seems like an easy choice; reward and compensate the skilled personnel on staff now, encourage training teams and attract new talent with the promise of not only compensation, but also exciting new projects to appease their appetite for tech and broaden their personal expertise. Unfortunately, budgets will dictate what many do in the coming year and it will be interesting to see how CIOs retain talent and bolster innovation within budget constraints.

Denise Dubie is Principal of Strategic Content in CA Technologies Thought Leadership Group. Prior to joining CA in 2010, Dubie spent 12 years of her career at Network World, an IDG company, covering the IT management industry and all of its players (including CA and its competitors) as well as high-tech careers, technology trends and vendors such as Cisco, HP, IBM and Microsoft.

Follow her on Twitter (@DDubie)