Employees just want to be respected: report

For the third year in a row, respect rates higher than remuneration in the High Tech Worker Survey Report conducted by PwC Consulting, ComputerWorld Canada and Network World Canada.

The 2001 report, Attracting and Retaining IT Talent in a Changing Economy, asked ComputerWorld Canada and Network World Canada readers to rate 37 workplace factors in terms of importance and satisfaction. As in previous years, the most important IT employment factors according to respondents was respect, followed by full health benefits, supportive, effective management, reimbursement for training expenses and opportunities for advancement, the study found. Surprisingly, tangibles such as salary, stock options and office perks placed well down the list.

Given a shrinking economy and the amount of layoffs within the past year, the fact that the findings remained relatively the same as in previous years isn’t lost on report co-author Sharon Clark, principal consultant in human capital solutions for PwC Consulting in Ottawa.

“It didn’t surprise me the first two years that things didn’t change but this year…because the economy changed I thought that things might be a little bit different,” Clark said.

The objective of the survey is to identify the employment factors that are most important to IT professionals and to assess their degree of satisfaction with these factors, Clark said, adding the results show that employees wish to work somewhere that treats them as a corporate asset by investing in employee training and development.

The study also polled respondents to rate their level of satisfaction with the same group of factors, with flexible dress code topping the list, followed by working hours, reimbursement of training expenses, workplace atmosphere and full health benefits. Respondents reported higher levels of satisfaction with personally rewarding work conditions, citing flexibility of working hours and the relaxed workplace atmosphere as satisfying conditions of work.

Surprisingly, satisfaction with job security increased, Clark said. “Traditionally, job security wasn’t much of an issue, because people thought (they) have these skills that are transferable and can go anywhere…job security has become a bit more important as people realize it is an issue,” Clark said.

For the first time, the survey includes finding of a series of interviews with CIOs at major Canadian companies. The CIOs generally agreed that respect, supportive, effective management and opportunities for advancement were important, the report found, adding that the potential benefits of employee loyalty include lower recruitment and training cost, higher productivity of experienced workers and improved relationships between current and future employees.

“What we wanted to do was sort of see if they (CIOs) agreed with what their employees were saying in terms of what was important and what they’re satisfied with,” Clark said.

The study has demonstrated that year after year, IT workers value the same things, she said, adding that employers need to focus on employee training and advancement opportunities.

“There are a few differences and the report talks about some of them but overall, anywhere we broke down, by age, gender, income – there are some differences that you would expect but overall it’s not huge,” Clark said.

“The way I interpret it is there are lot of things that affect your job but what affects it on a daily basis affects the way you feel about your work…advancement possibilities are also very high, and that’s tied into that – you feel like you’re being recognized, you’re being given feedback,” Clark added.

“That’s what makes or breaks your job, that’s what makes you want to quit, it makes you want to stay – ‘I like my boss,’ ‘I like the way I’m treated,’ and ‘I feel like I’m treated with respect.'”