IT workers want respect: survey

It may not be the only thing they want, but what IT workers are looking for the most in a job is respect.

A survey done in conjunction with Toronto based-Laurentian Technomedia Inc. – parent company of ComputerWorld Canada — and PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) found that being treated with respect is the most important element in a job as far as high tech workers are concerned.

In a list of 45 different job factors, respect was rated the most important, with supportive, effective management, full health benefits, reimbursement for training expenses and the ability to work with the latest technology following closely behind.

“People don’t want to emulate Dilbert and work for the pointy-haired boss,” said Terry Lister, human resources management consultant of Ottawa-based PWC.

But it looks like many workers share Dilbert’s fate. When asked to rank their satisfaction level in each of the 45 job factors, respect came in at 14. Managers fared even worse, with supportive, effective management ranked at 34.

Factors that ranked low on the list of importance, such as office location and dress code were rated high in satisfaction.

Money, often thought of as the most important factor, came in only at 18th.

“It’s not that they want to work for free. Obviously no one does. But money is only part of the story and money will neither attract nor keep people that do not find the job truly challenging,” Lister said.

IT workers are in high demand so no matter where they go, chances are they’ll be well paid, Lister said.

“So money isn’t going to keep them putting up with things they don’t like,” she said.

Money is more important to contract workers who don’t have security or health benefits, said Amy Babcock, a recruiter with Toronto-based IMI Ward Associates. When it comes to IT workers looking for a full time job, money becomes less important, although it remains a factor.

“Generally speaking, IT people are always looking for more money. Money may not be the number one thing, but it’s certainly in the list of things. I can’t think of too many conversations I have where money hasn’t come up,” Babcock said.

She added that workers often complain about office politics, being bored with their job or the lack of job growth.

Employers traditionally compete on money, but they need to start thinking about developing a different kind of leadership, one that is more engaging of the individual, Lister said.

At PWC, where the IT workers help other companies construct large systems to change the way they do business, many of the factors important to workers are already built into the job, making the job turnover rate very low, according to PWC partner Ron Schwartz.

The company tries to make their employees feel like they’re an integral part of the firm by including them in important decisions and managers try to meet with workers both individually and in teams every few months. But even without these measures, Schwartz said, PWC IT employees would still feel the sense of respect that’s so important to them because of the nature of their job.

“As a consulting firm, the majority of our staff gets that sense of importance by working with our clients – by helping our clients make a difference. You get the same measure of satisfaction. You think, ‘Hey, people are listening to me,'” Schwartz said.

When PWC does lose an employee, it’s generally because another company really wants them, and will do anything to get that employee, Schwartz said.