according to a CEB survey cited by ComputerWorld. We recently reported that about 1/3 of IT workers are ready to leave for another company. What can your organization do to boost morale and retain staff?IT job satisfaction is at an all time low, and has been since January
Cut Back the Hours
By far the biggest drag on tech workers is the number of hours worked - ComputerWorld puts the average workweek at 71 hours for IT staff. IT staff are often expected to work late into the night to fix problems, and still show up at 8:00 AM the next morning. Also, tech workers are frequently contacted at home and on vacation. At my first IT job after college, my boss told me "Forty hours a week is part-time."
ComputerWorld article asked why women leave careers in IT. The real question should be why anyone actually stays in the profession under these conditions.
Cutting hours for IT staff may sound like an impossible task, but it may actually lead to more productivity in addition to better morale. As the 37 Signals Book Rework points out: "Working more doesn't mean you care more or get
more done." According to a recent survey by Microsoft, the average worker is only productive for about 30 hours of their 46 hour work week.
If all you do is work, you're unlikely to have sound judgments. Your values and decision making wind up skewed. You stop being able to decide what's worth extra effort and what's not. And you wind up just plain tired. No one makes sharp decisions when tired.
Mangers will need to take a hard look at what is truly mission critical and what an acceptable amount of downtime will be, and set more generous timelines for deploying new systems. Managers may also need to take initiative in limiting staff's hours and ensuring employees take vacation time and are not contacted while on vacation unless absolutely necessary.
Managers can start by creating explicit policies regarding overtime, critical services and emergencies.
Provide Paid Training
Time spent on self-training accounts for much of that 71 hour work week for IT staff. IT workers are expected to keep up with the latest technology, but all too often organizations don't support staff in their training and education.
Providing more paid training to staff - including contractors - could be a huge advantage to organizations. There's a mismatch between IT workers available and skills required. Managers should think of training as an investment.
Provide a Road Map for Career Growth
According to ComputerWorld "For many women, the career path is all very mysterious because they don't have mentors or sponsors or folks looking out for them." This is also true for men. It can be difficult to see where and how to move-up, especially as more and more business skills are required in IT departments. This is particularly problematic for contractors, who are often treated as disposable labor and have little to know prospects for advancement within a company.
In addition to providing training, organizations should mentor employees - male and female, contract and permanent - and make career opportunities and paths of advancement clear.
What do you wish your organization would do to improve your morale at work?
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