IT leaders can’t get no job satisfaction

Among all functional executives, IT leaders have the lowest level of job satisfaction, according to a survey conducted by executive career and recruiting network ExecuNet. Just over half (53 per cent) of the 286 IT executives who responded to the survey say they’re satisfied with their current jobs.

Finance executives express the greatest job satisfaction, with 68 per cent claiming contentment, followed by HR (65 per cent), marketing (63 per cent), general management (61 per cent), sales (54 per cent), and bringing up the rear, IT.

Dave Opton, the founder and CEO of ExecuNet, thinks IT leaders are the least satisfied executives for a variety of reasons. Chief among them: They’re not doing work that truly excites them because of weak economic conditions and companies’ general reluctance to adopt leading edge technologies.

“The people who migrated to IT careers are motivated and stimulated by being able to work with things that are state-of-the-art,” says Opton. “The number of companies that are prepared to keep their organization state of the art are not as profuse.”

The other major reason Opton says IT executives are unhappy is due to the thankless nature of their role. “IT in many cases doesn’t get the respect that some of the other more traditional functions, such as marketing and finance, get,” he says.

The results of the ExecuNet survey differ slightly from research Harvey Nash Executive Search released earlier this year on CIO job satisfaction. The Harvey Nash study found that 79 per cent of IT leaders found their jobs fulfilling and one-fifth (21 per cent) didn’t. The same study also reported a 9 per cent decrease in IT leaders’ job satisfaction from 2007 to 2008.

The ExecuNet survey was conducted online in January 2008. Nearly 1,600 employed executives in finance, HR, marketing, sales, general management and IT responded to the questions on job satisfaction. These executives earn an average annual salary in excess of US$206,000.

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