Pay up, job satisfaction down for IT leaders

IT leaders in the US are better paid than ever, but they are increasingly unhappy with their lot.


IT leaders in the US are better paid than ever, but they are increasingly unhappy with their lot.

That is the finding of a new survey of IT leaders commissioned by executive search firm Harvey Nash USA and sponsored by KPMG.

The survey, which drew 258 responses from CIOs, CTOs, senior- and mid-level IT managers and other C-level executives, found that 80 percent of IT leaders surveyed are satisfied with their pay package.

It found 75 percent of respondents earn a base salary of more than US$125,000 (£62,500) per year; that's up from 70 percent last year and 36 percent two years ago. And 56 percent of respondents say that they earn an annual salary of more than $150,000 (£75,000), compared with 41 percent last year.

At the top, 29 percent of respondents report earning more than $200,000 (£100,000) per year, compared to 19 percent last year. Harvey Nash's findings look similar to the compensation data from Computerworld UK’s sister title’s 2008 State of the CIO research.

In addition to increases in base salaries, more IT leaders are getting retention bonuses. The number of IT leaders receiving such bonuses has rised in two years, from six percent to 22 percent, says the Harvey Nash survey.

Despite the money they're making, fewer IT leaders say they're satisfied with their jobs this year. In 2007, 88 percent of IT leaders called their jobs fulfilling, compared with 79 percent this year. And one-fifth of respondents (21 percent) don't find their jobs fulfilling.

Consequently, 28 percent of respondents say they're hunting for a new job and the 54 percent who aren't actively looking say they'd entertain calls from recruiters.

One factor fueling that eagerness to switch jobs is that CIOs feel less influential in their roles and in their organisations, according to the survey. The number of CIOs who view their role as becoming "more strategic" to their company declined from 80 percent last year to 69 percent this year.

What's more, fewer IT leaders now report to the CEO. Only 29 percent of the Harvey Nash survey respondents say their boss is the CEO, compared with 36 percent last year. (In our research, 41 percent of State of the CIO survey respondents call the CEO boss.)

The number of IT leaders who sit on the management team, 37 percent, also declined this year, by 10 percent. The majority of respondents (54 percent) aren't members of their companies' executive management teams. (According to our 2008 State of the CIO research, 71 percent of IT executives report sitting on their companies' executive management teams.)

Nevertheless, CIOs think they're making strides on the IT-business alignment front: Some 73 percent of respondents believe their IT departments are integrated "well enough" with the business, according to the Harvey Nash survey.

CIO compensation is increasing at the same time that CIOs feel their influence is waning because employers see compensation as a way to attract talent-especially from larger companies-and address turnover, says Anna Frazzetto, Harvey Nash's vice president of technology solutions.

According to the survey, CIO turnover hovers around nine percent per year. The survey also shows that companies might improve CIO retention if they gave their CIOs more responsibility as opposed to more money: A quarter of CIOs surveyed say they'd be happier with their jobs if they had more management responsibility and decision-making authority.

They survey was conducted online between November 15, 2007 and January 18, 2008.

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