IT Management

What are your best IT employees doing every day; aside from making sure the network is up and running or completing User Acceptance Testing (UAT) on a new business application that’s scheduled for deployment in two weeks?

It might surprise most employers that at any given time during the week, their employees are likely to be spending time networking with peers, establishing references or looking at resources in order to help them get their next job.

Yikes! In an environment such as IT where good workers are still at a premium, this isn’t good news. And yet this is just one of the many revealing insights about IT professionals from the most recent Kelly Global Workforce Index, an annual global survey that uncovers current opinions about work and the workplace.

Indeed, of the more than 7,400 IT professionals who participated in the survey from around the world, 62 percent said they spend at least one to two hours a week doing the kinds of things that will help them transition to a new job. That’s a measure of how loyal they feel toward their current employer, which is to say—not much. In fact, 73 percent said they were confident they could get a similar or better position elsewhere if needed. And 41 percent say they feel less loyal to their current employers than they felt a year ago.

With all this seeming lack of loyalty going around in IT, what’s an organization to do? How can they go about engaging employees to help crack the loyalty code?

Simple awareness of how the IT labor marketplace has changed is key. Employers can no longer take it for granted that IT is a desirable field that comes with a nice paycheck—and this is all it takes to win loyalty among their workers.

After all, IT workers sure don’t take themselves for granted anymore. That’s evident in additional bits of data revealed in the survey, such as the fact that 62 percent of IT workers today believe their skills are in high demand. That same percentage of people are also seeking new skills for immediate career goals. They all seem to feel well-connected and self-assured— and they all seem to want to make themselves more attractive to employers across the board.

IT workers today are clearly being loyal to themselves. They’re doing what it takes to advance, and employers must do the same in order to win that same kind of loyalty and keep the brightest talent from defecting.

Additional research from the survey reveals how employers can do just that. More than 60 percent of all respondents desire flexible work arrangements, highly collaborative environments and cross-functional teams. They want the ability to work virtually, and they want exposure to the latest technologies and top-notch equipment. Detractors at work for the modern IT employees include the traditional hierarchical organizational structures and the constant change when it comes to management within the ranks.

IT workers also want the ability to have career path advancement options with their current employers—they’re not all trying to leave! But only 38 percent of survey respondents said they feel like those options exist in their jobs today. Forty-eight percent said they’ve had career development discussions with their managers. Only half of those, however, said they felt like the conversations were actually beneficial.

Cracking the loyalty code among your IT workers is as simple—and complex—as recognizing the wants and desires of your current employees and creating key incentives to get them to stay. It’s not all about the money—62 percent of IT professionals say they’d give up higher pay for new skillsets.

Not all employers will be able to do everything on this list, nor should they have to. But by taking just a few steps in the right direction, and by starting the conversations necessary to instill higher engagement among employees, you’ll be equipped to at least start to mitigate the flight risk that’s looming among today’s IT workers.

They might even end up thanking you for your loyalty. Loyalty is a two-way street!