Are Tech Workers Happier Than Ever?
According to two separate studies from Chicago-based Aon Consulting, technology workers are less likely to leave their jobs and increasingly proud to be associated with their workplaces.
The consulting firm asked nearly 2,000 U.S. and Canadian workers working in high-tech jobs in a variety of industries such as networking, telecommunications, banking, e-commerce, software development, and information technology, six questions designed to measure employee productivity, pride, and retention. In both the U.S. and Canadian studies, high-tech workers scored higher in terms of job commitment than the general population. And both groups scored higher than they did a year ago.
What gives? Haven't thousands of layoffs and ongoing negativity battered the telecom and tech sectors (see 2002 Top Ten: Pink Slips)?
"On the surface this seems surprising," acknowledges Andrew Thackray, assistant vice president at AON and research director both studies. "You might expect these workers to lose their commitment, but despite the layoffs, telecom workers, in Canada at least, are not giving up on the industry and still want to be a part of it."
Indeed, AON’s research suggests that a notable crossection are committed to their jobs despite the downturn. That begs the question, Why are these workers so happy, when the sector is seemingly at its worst?
Thackray says the answer lies in what technology companies provide their workers day to day. He says technology workers “feel a great sense of collegiality, autonomy, and entrepreneurial spirit in their workplaces and have opportunities to grow their skills.” These are all cultural attributes that Aon says drive commitment.
But Thackray warns that companies must continue to treat their employees well even in difficult economic times if they hope to keep worker satisfaction high.
The study also found areas in which companies could improve. Even though worker commitment is strong, many respondents feel management lacks credibility and doesn't communicate well with staff, especially with regard to layoffs and other personnel issues. This comes as little surprise, as so many companies in the sector have been battered by large layoffs.
Specifically, technology employees don’t feel that leaders set an open and honest tone in the workplace. This is particularly acute in companies where there have been layoffs. Thackray says that even if the news is negative, organizations must communicate honestly to maintain credibility.
Most technology employees believe their companies are headed in the right direction. They’re ready for the necessary changes to help improve the company’s prospects, but they are often disappointed with the implementation efforts, says the report.
Many workers also feel their contributions are undervalued and that they are underpaid, which Aon says can eventually lead to falling morale. What’s more, these workers say they want management to recognize the importance of personal life.
At least one observer says the report's results don't make sense to him. "Without sales and revenue there is no happiness,” says Jeffrey Myers, president of Bryson Myers Co., an executive recruiting firm. “Everyone is barely ekeing out a next round of funding, and large companies are still cutting staff. If you don’t have job security, how can you be happy and committed?”
— Marguerite Reardon, Senior Editor, Light Reading