Understand IT professionals’ value, CIOs urged

Chief information officers (CIOs) who want to retain the best IT people in their organizations must know and understand the unique set of values that characterize knowledge workers.

This was the message brought home by J. Austen K. Mascranghe, divisional manager for the Telecom Industry Business Unit of Informatics Ltd., during a business session of the SEARCH 2000 convention held last month.

Mascranghe said that based on a model adopted from Sri Lankan research, two key factors motivate IT professionals to stay within an organization. One is job satisfaction, and the other is organizational commitment.

Job satisfaction, Mascranghe said, includes compensation, promotion opportunities, work significance, supervision, and accomplishment. He observed that IT professionals have a very strong drive for career advancement, always looking for self-development and professional growth.

“This is where training becomes important. The knowledge workforce has to be nurtured with new information and skills, because they always want to be at the cutting edge,” he said.

He challenged different companies to provide continuous training to their knowledge workforces, since this will benefit the entire organization’s operation.

“The second factor, which is organizational commitment, has two sides to it – one is structural commitment and the other is functional commitment,” Mascranghe said.

Structural commitment means the IT professional’s perception of the company where he works. “Of course, when the company is big, they have an advantage. Smaller companies have to build their reputation first,” he said. “It follows that when an employee has a high esteem for his team, a sense of loyalty develops and there is commitment to the team – that is what structural commitment means,” he added.

Functional commitment, on the other hand, refers to the IT professional’s perception of his profession – the job that he is actually doing. “If an employee loves what he is doing, and enjoys doing it, there is a very minimal possibility of quitting,” he said.

Mascranghe stressed that a mixture of all these is the solution to keeping an organization’s knowledge workforce intact. He said he is optimistic that if these principles are applied, companies can lower their turnover of IT workers.