IT professionals have enough reasons to feel anxious about their careers. Most of them receive lower salaries and although raises were accorded them, the increases were hardly felt. Jobrelated stress has been on the rise in the IT department as workloads have become heavier to heighten production.
However, it’s not all doom and gloom as majority of them expect to get a salary increase this year. And as the level of job performance in the organization improves, job satisfaction becomes stable.
These are some of the highlights of the IS Salary, Job Satisfaction and Career survey conducted by the Computerworld Philippines Research Group from March to May 2010.
LOW SALARY FOR MORE WORK
exclusive-in1Salaries for IS positions are still not competitive despite the increasing demand for IS professionals. In fact, a little more than half of respondents reported they were receiving take home pay that is below industry standard.
On the other hand, 43% were happy enough, receiving pay checks that are within the industry average, while six percent claimed their monthly compensations are higher than industry standard.
Majority of respondents described pay hikes as below average to average with six out of 10 getting salary increases ranging from five percent to 10% every year. Thirty-two percent were receiving an average lower than five percent in salary increments; while seven percent were granted increases averaging 11% to 15%. But even with these modest pay rate hikes, these professionals can still adequately cope with the continuing increase in the prices of goods and services. Measured through the consumer price index, the inflation rate reached an average of four percent in the first months of the year, still below the five percent lowest salary increase reported.
Admitting that his monthly take home pay is lower than industry standard and, at the same time, receiving a below average compensation raise, Juanito Macabanti III, a network administrator of the Central Colleges of the Philippines, declares he “will stick it out with the company,” but may study and reconsider appealing offers from other entities if opportunity knocks.
“Probably, the primary reason why I am sticking it out with the company is the security of tenure,” he said, concluding that “although the annual increase in salary is below average, I am assured of my benefits being a regular employee which are not being enjoyed by contractual personnel.”
Macabanti added that if given the opportunity to be offered with attractive remunerations and benefits from other firms, he may reconsider it as long as there will be a security of tenure.
A fatter pay check is not the lone element which satisfies workers although they are also on the lookout for entities that offer more tempting salary packages. In fact, majority of the respondents yearn to be paid salaries that are higher than what they are currently getting. They expect to receive remunerations of 10% to 100% more for the same position they currently hold if they were with another establishments.
On the lighter side, whether these professionals are receiving pallid or substantial salary raises, 65% of them expect to get a pay hike this year despite a constantly changing business environment brought about by economic and political challenges. They are also satisfied with the company benefits that, in one way or the other, boost their compensation packages.
Though granting bonuses and other incentives is generally management’s prerogative, 36% said they are given benefits in the form of profit sharing; 26% announced that they received team performance bonus; while 20% claimed they were provided with anniversary bonuses. Thirteen percent of the respondents were given Christmas bonuses, 14th month pay and other yearend bonuses while eight percent were granted bonuses for completion of a major project.
More than one-fourth of the respondents consider the annual performance of an individual as the biggest factor that determines if an organization will implement salary hikes for its employees. They believe that individual accomplishments should be given more weight in evaluating the performance of employees. This also serves as a basis for granting increases in salaries, or bonuses/honorariums, in some instances.
“We have standardized annual merit increase policy in our company which basically says the rate of the salary increase will be based on the final rating of the performance evaluation,” said Ronilo Quiat, IT manager of Ortigas & Company Limited.
Explaining that they have a matrix on this policy to follow, Quiat declared, “We can not give an increase that goes beyond the corresponding rate specified in that matrix.”
As claimed by 29% of respondents, salary increases are granted only to employees if a company is earning profits. Thus, a company’s annual financial performance also plays an essential role in management’s decision to provide pay hikes to deserving personnel.
For 44% of IT officers surveyed, the budget of the company for IT (including personnel costs) is the most important element that affects the salaries of IT workers in the work place.
“In our company, we look at the budget first, employees’ performance comes next and then the industry standard,” divulged Henry Parcon, chief IT officer of Airlift Asia, Inc. “Sometimes these three will be interpolated based on the risks that we’re about to face,” he added.
When asked about the three biggest career motivators, aside from money, learning new skills came on top as claimed by 47% of respondents; satisfaction of helping the company run efficiently, which was the choice of 43%, came in second; while job security took the third slot, with 40% voting on it.
Asked if these factors motivate them, Parcon agreed, saying “we build a culture that we have to deliver first what is due to the company and the rest will follow. Learning new skills will come once we have new projects at hand or when we need to upgrade our skills on new technologies. Job security is very important that’s why I always remind my team to be always ready for any eventualities.”
“Being trusted and given the chance to manage the company’s network are great motivating factors,” comments Macabanti. He also considers job security as another motivating factor in a sense that one can enjoy all the benefits of a regular employee and do not have to entertain thoughts that maybe when the contract expires, he will lose his job.
For Quiat, “an efficient operation would have a major impact in the company’s bottom line.” “If there’s an increase in the bottom line, it means we are growing the company and increasing the shareholders’ value as well,” he added.
Regarding learning new skills, Quiat remarked that it is non-negotiable especially in his profession where technologies are changing so fast that he has to catch up. “Of course, I can’t learn everything, so I only choose those technologies that have potential use in our company,” he said.
Admitting that his desire to learn is not limited to technology only, Quiat said that “I also pay attention in improving my skills in leadership, management style, and the like.” These, he noted, can be applied to improve the business processes and decision-making in the organization.
Among the factors that will make IT professionals enjoy their jobs even better, the survey revealed higher pay as the most important; followed by access to new technologies; while bonuses came third. Other notable factors include variety and interesting work; job security, promotions, and autonomy at work.
IT professionals also identified information security, project management, Web development, network security, and Cisco training as some of the skills they need to further their careers.
SHIFT TO NON-IT CAREER
While majority of respondents pursued a career in IT, 18% reported they have plans of shifting to a non-IS career, preferably in the field of business administration. On the other hand, 65% of professionals divulged that they were contacted by a headhunter who enticed them away from their current employers through flexible packages because of their specialized expertise.
Better offer from another company was the top reason for an IS professional to leave his current job, according to 74% of respondents. For 43%, they attributed job turnover to professional development while 40% blamed it to the advancement to higher management role. Other notable factors that drive respondents to move from one firm to another were as follows: low pay, downsizing, job-related issues and due to non-management advancement.
Meanwhile, despite increasing work loads and mounting level of stress, the vast majority of IT professionals were satisfied at work with eight out of 10 being either very satisfied or somewhat satisfied with their current jobs. In contrast, fourteen percent were not satisfied with their current jobs.
In all levels of IS department, job performance was improving, claimed 56% of respondents. It was stable for 39% while five percent said it was declining. On the other hand, the level of job satisfaction in the IS departments of 50% of the respondents was stable. While it was improving for 40%, the job satisfaction for 10% was declining.
According to 41% of professionals, the key factors that contributed to increased satisfaction were the exposure to new technologies/challenges and the good relationship with management. Promotions/pay increase and increased authority/freedom in decision making also help improve job satisfaction. On the other hand, change in management, work overload/no recognition, and understaffed/downsizing contributed to the decline in satisfaction.
Job satisfaction is more important for more than half of the respondents as against 47% who aim for career advancement. For Macabanti who prefers career advancement over job satisfaction had this to say: “As professionals, we always look at the future. If you are aiming for something, you have to work for it, polish your skills, acquire more and new knowledge, gain the respect of your co-workers and boss, and hopefully get that needed promotion and have the opportunity to manage people.”
“If you are just contented with your daily routine, you will no longer aspire for career advancement, you will not aspire for promotions. You will just be contented with what you currently have, be it knowledge, skills, or monetary remunerations,” he added.
Parcon, who favors job satisfaction’ commented, “On the level where I am now, I will choose job satisfaction as long as I am satisfied with my compensation package. In my age (early 40s), I need to stabilize everything around me. Moving from one position to another will distort projections and targets.”
Noting that job satisfaction is more important to him, Quiat said, “If I am satisfied with what I am doing, I will be able to perform better and deliver what is expected from me. This, in return, will eventually lead into career advancement.”
exclusive-in2A gender gap, where male IT professionals get paid more than women IT workers for comparable jobs, still exists in 27% of companies-respondents. Women IT personnel in these firms remain underpaid compared to their male counterpart. On the other hand, five percent of respondents said they do not hire female IT professionals.
A vast majority or 68% confirmed that men and women workers with the same jobs were treated and paid equally in their worksites. There is no pay discrepancy whatsoever as the merit-based system they use in evaluating the performance of their employees is the same for both male and female personnel.
Implying that there is no discrimination in their workplace, Parcon noted, “In our company, we treat everyone equally. We merit employees according to performance, job functions, responsibilities, tenure and experiences.”
As he renounced gender gap in their office, Macabanti said, “All employees are treated equal with the same measurement of evaluation and were paid the same for comparable jobs.”
EXPANDING JOB RESPONSIBILITIES
Having clearly defined job descriptions is not the trend for IS officers nowadays. What they are currently experiencing is the expansion in their job descriptions and the growing list of responsibilities they have to implement.
The survey revealed that 40% of IS managers said their jobs have become business oriented; 31% reported that their jobs have become more technical; while 28% confessed their jobs become more crossfunctional.
Due to the growing workloads, IS officers beefed up their efforts to keep up with the old responsibilities while spending time to learn new obligations. Parcon, who said that his job has become business-oriented, stresses that management position is always on the business side. But, as an IT chief officer, he also updates himself about technical details to a certain level. “This keeps me informed while gaining sound decision in technical matters,” he said.
Parcon also relates that the significant change they are experiencing right now is that more and more customers are passing more burdens to their suppliers. “A lot of tasks, reports, and prevalidation were tasked to us to satisfy them.” he discloses.
For Macabanti, time management and work delegation are the answer to additional work load. Although he clarifies that there was no corresponding salary increase for more assignments, “honorariums are sometimes given.” He also said that he attends trainings to cope with added responsibilities.
Quiat, for his part, attended formal courses in business management to cope with his work, especially now that he is handling the administration of the day-to-day operation of their company. “I had a certificate in Real Estate Management in 2004 and completed my MBA (Masters in Business Administration) in 2007. Just recently, I finished a 12-month course — Strategic Business Economic Program and plan to pursue my Masters degree in Business Economics which I believe will help me in handling the non-IT assignments in the company.”
INCREASED STRESS LEVEL
Meanwhile, more IS professionals are struggling with more work and job-related stress. While 34% felt that the level of stress in their organization is at the same level as that of the previous year, 56% say stress level in their worksites is increasing. Yet, they have to work to their fullest potential.
“Stress is very high,” according to Parcon, “but we battle it with collaboration, sharing of experiences, and team bonding.”
A mere 10% reported that stress in their department was lessened.
Although certification demonstrates an area of expertise, and can increase an applicant’s chances of employment, it is not required for most IS positions, as seven out of 10 respondents say IT certifications are either not so important or not important at all.
The survey also disclosed that IT certification is not just about money or greater pay as 68% revealed that certified IT personnel in their organization do not receive higher remunerations compared with those who don’t possess certifications.