There's cause for contentment among IT pros, many of whom are staying put at their current jobs due to a combination of lingering economic concerns and improving conditions at work.
In a survey of 500 IT pros, staffing firm Modis found the vast majority (89%) are currently happy with their jobs. Nearly two-thirds (64%) said they intend to stay with their current employer, and 25% said they'd only leave if the right opportunity came along. Just 11% are unhappy with their current position, which includes 4% of respondents who are actively searching for a new job.
"There's a high percentage of people who claim they don't want to move," says Modis President Jack Cullen.
Part of the reason IT pros are staying put is caution. Employees are nervous about unemployment levels, an unstable economy, and the possibility of a double-dip recession. "Marketplace paranoia is keeping people where they are," Cullen says.
In addition, companies are working hard to keep their current IT teams intact. "A lot of employers are creating environments that are hard to leave," Cullen says. Perks such as the opportunity to telecommute, flexible schedules, and onsite daycare are helping with retention efforts. "They've made it endearing so that people think twice about moving on to something else."
Why all the perks? Shortages of talent in specific areas - namely cloud computing, security and mobility - are making it tough on managers who need to fill key IT positions. IT hiring managers don't want to lose any of the veteran talent they already have.
If the economy strengthens in 2012, IT pros will be more open to leaving a stable job for something better. But for the time being, positions are hard to fill. "To get people to look outside the environment they're in, we've got to offer them something good to pique their interest," Cullen says.
For employers with IT jobs to fill, Cullen offers this advice: "You can't operate like it's 2009. You have to recognise that key resources are in short supply. You need to sell a candidate on your environment. What can you offer to enhance a candidate's career and lifestyle?"
In the Modis survey, respondents make it clear that autonomy is important when it comes to happiness on the job. When Modis asked which factors are critical to job satisfaction, respondents most often said having a boss who lets them run their own projects (cited by 70%). Other popular answers include: good salary and benefits (62%), having opportunities to receive training in new technical skills (61%), and being able to keep a flexible schedule (61%).
"People are very happy where they're at, as long as they have the support of a good boss (somebody who's not a micromanager and is willing to empower them to run with a project); salary and benefits that are in line with the market; and technology they can learn and get better at. They don't need to go anywhere," Cullen says.
On the hiring front, 28% of the IT pros surveyed said they think their team will increase (either marginally or significantly) in the coming year, and 65% said headcount will stay the same. Just 6% expect their team headcount to decrease.
IT pros are mixed on salary increases, but the largest percentage (44%) expect to be offered a raise in 2012. Among the remainder, 26% expect their company to freeze pay next year, 11% aren't expecting a raise but said they'll ask for one, 9% aren't expecting a raise and won't ask for one, and 5% are expecting a pay cut (4% don't know).
In general, men appear to be more optimistic than women, Modis found. More men than women said their team will increase in size (33% vs. 16%) and believe they'll receive a raise (48% vs. 33%) in 2012.
IT still faces pressure to cut costs, however. More than half of respondents (62%) said achieving cost savings remains a top priority at their organization.
For IT professionals looking for a new job, the most effective method is tapping personal connections, respondents said. Networking with other IT people ranked first (35%), followed by recommendations from former colleagues, clients or bosses (28%), professional networks (17%), and social media tools such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter (8%).