As the economy continues to rebound and the competition for qualified IT professionals reaches new heights, employers seeking to attract or retain staffers are increasingly becoming like anxious suitors, desperate to figure out how to please their dates: "What do you want? What will make you stay? What really matters in our relationship?"
According to Computerworld's 2014 IT Salary Survey, tech workers are looking for many traditional benefits of a good partnership: financial security, stability and reliability -- all represented by salary and benefits. But this year's results confirm a growing trend: IT professionals are placing increasing importance on "softer" factors in the workplace, which have less to do with dollars and cents and more to do with corporate culture, personal growth and affirmation.
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Read the full report: Computerworld IT Salary Survey 2014
Over the past several years, traditional incentives like base pay, benefits and bonuses have declined in importance, while less tangible rewards like recognition for a job well done, the opportunity to work with talented people, and the knowledge that one's opinions are valued have gained ground.
To be clear, money still talks: Base pay still outranks all factors. But whereas 73 percent of respondents ranked pay as one of their five top concerns in the 2012 survey, just 49 percent did so in 2014. Benefits took a similar plunge, cited by 36 percent of those polled this year, down from 59 percent in 2012. And the percentage of respondents choosing vacation time declined eight points over the same period.
The biggest gainers over that span are factors that have a positive impact on quality of life (the choice of commuting distance rose seven points), the worker's sense of security (job stability made the same gain) and the work environment (job atmosphere/community, being recognized for good work and being valued for one's knowledge all rose five to seven points). Being able to work with highly talented peers and having challenging work are on the rise as well.
Why these factors, and why now?
"In our recovering economy, IT workers are growing more confident," says Shravan Goli, president of IT staffing firm Dice, which noted the importance of intangible rewards in its own recent salary survey. "The job market is good, with a lot more jobs out there. Folks are less worried about retention.
"Good pay is still necessary for retaining workers," he continues, "but it's no longer sufficient. These days, employees are putting a greater emphasis on career ambition and personal growth."