A global study by Princeton consultants BlessingWhite finds that fewer than one in four information technology department employees are fully engaged in their work. Of the eight staff areas studied for levels of employee engagement, the IT function ranks last across the globe.
“The State of Employee Engagement 2008” study explores workplace attitudes among employees on four continents and is based on responses of more than 7,500 individuals and interviews with 40 senior human resource and line managers.
“Compared with employees in other functions, IT workers are unusually independent, and tend to identify more with their profession than with the organization,” said BlessingWhite CEO Christopher Rice. “At the same time, they are achievement-oriented and keen on staying current in their field, and this holds true in all regions studied. So it wasn’t a surprise to learn that by a clear margin the opportunity for training and development is the most important driver of increased performance for IT employees.”
Top Factors Influencing Increased Job Contribution of IT employees:
Development opportunities and training 27%
Greater clarity about what the organization needs me to do, and why 20%
Regular, specific feedback about how I’m doing 20%
More resources 12%
A coach or mentor other than my manager 9%
Better communication with my manager 6%
A better relationship with my coworkers 5%
According to Rice, contribution needs to be balanced with employee satisfaction. “While organizations are keen to maximize the contribution of each individual, people need to find purpose and satisfaction in what they do. Full engagement develops from an alignment of maximum job satisfaction with maximum job contribution.”
Rice believes that employee satisfaction and contribution are also closely related to career development. “IT employees are promoted mostly due to their technical proficiency, and so they want continuous development and growth. But their leadership and management skills may be limited, and development has to address these dimensions, too. Career development opportunities are the top driver of retention for IT professionals. They will stay if they think they can grow, but they will surely leave if they don’t see advancement.”
Among the study’s other findings:
• While only one-quarter of IT employees are fully engaged, at the other extreme nearly 20% of them are actually disengaged.
• Trust among IT employees is comparatively low with only 62% of IT employees trusting their organization’s senior leaders.
• In contrast, more than 78% of IT employees trust their immediate manager. Not surprisingly, trust tends to increase with engagement level, with 91% of engaged IT employees trusting their manager.
• Only 57% of IT employees said their manager recognizes and rewards their achievements.
• The most common reason for IT employees to remain with the organization is their career, with 28% agreeing or strongly agreeing with the statement “I have significant development or advancement opportunities.”
IT professionals are expert employees, Rice observed. “These people are key to a company’s competitiveness and need to be managed and recognized in a unique way. Most are highly talented, even rebellious at times. The brightest minds can be an organization’s biggest headache.”