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Employment

Are Tech Workers Happier Than Ever?

Despite thousands of layoffs, workers at high-tech companies in both the United States and Canada are happier than ever with their jobs, says a new report out this week.

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
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gumbydammit 12/5/2012 | 12:52:27 AM
re: Are Tech Workers Happier Than Ever?
Sure, if I still have a job today, I'm going to be EXTREMELY happy! I think everyone is just praying the bleeding will stop, at least we could stop fearing additional layoffs.

Maybe even start hiring again!
/gd.
Perceptor 12/5/2012 | 12:52:24 AM
re: Are Tech Workers Happier Than Ever? Does anyone remember that "study" a few months back that showed that the rate of telecom layoffs was slowing down? Their incorrect justification was that the absolute number of employees laid off had gone down from the previous quarter. I can only hazard a guess at the number of man-hours that went into that comphrensive analysis.

With that erroneous study in mind, I can't help but squint at this one...
Fortunecookie 12/5/2012 | 12:52:22 AM
re: Are Tech Workers Happier Than Ever? Doesn't author have any common sense?
pipesoflight 12/5/2012 | 12:52:20 AM
re: Are Tech Workers Happier Than Ever? Some cook the books.
Some cook the statistics.
Some cook the articles.
manoflalambda 12/5/2012 | 12:52:17 AM
re: Are Tech Workers Happier Than Ever? ...this study or some of the sales/industry forecasts from the consulting companies during the bubble...

Salute,
Manoflalambda
wildcat20 12/5/2012 | 12:52:16 AM
re: 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"

Duh?

Duh!

No crap Shirlock!

What an idiotic assumption..

"People are now less likely to leave somehow equals that people are happier."

Do ya think maybe they are not leaving BECAUSE THERE IS NO OTHER JOBS AT ALL THAT THEY CAN MOVE TO?!

Do ya think?

Whatever.
lastofthebohicans 12/5/2012 | 12:52:15 AM
re: Are Tech Workers Happier Than Ever? Yes, Aon Consulting has its head up its ass.
Good telecom workers have been displaced with
the bad, talented and experienced colleagues
of mine here in MA are taking part-time jobs
in anything they can find to make ends meet
until they can get back in (or not).

Those of us who are working are holding onto
jobs with white knuckles, "enjoying" wage freezes,
mandatory vacations and/or pay cuts and poor short-term prospects if we get whacked. And, as we get older, many of us are thinking how to get out of telecom to find a better long-term strategy for employment, job satisfaction, and reliable income stream (telecom pays better than just about anything, but not if you get laid
off and lose 6-12 months of earnings every 5 years).

This survey reeks of "Dewey Defeats Truman",
where the polls were taken from anything
but a cross-representative sample.

My 2 cents

-lotb

OpticalCobra 12/5/2012 | 12:52:13 AM
re: Are Tech Workers Happier Than Ever? Wow! I'm glad to hear the we are happier than ever. I guess that I can stop staying up at night worrying about how to pay my mortgage and feed my family. I was starting to worry for a little while, you know, with all the wage freezes, pay cuts, and layoffs in our industry.

I suppose money can only buy you silly things like food, clothing, and shelter... but it's the "collegiality, autonomy, and entrepreneurial spirit" that we tech workers get from working our a##es off that keeps the smiles on our faces.

Yeah, that's it.

I would love to ramble longer, but I must hurry off to call my fellow unemployed colleagues and tell them that they are supposed to be happy.

I wonder why they did not include the unemployed tech workers in the survey... oh well.
dodo 12/5/2012 | 12:52:12 AM
re: Are Tech Workers Happier Than Ever? Is AON trying to put a SPIN on this to collect some contracts in Management Consulting.

Thought this happens only on Capitol Hill?

Well!
Belzebutt 12/5/2012 | 12:52:12 AM
re: Are Tech Workers Happier Than Ever? ...this study or some of the sales/industry forecasts from the consulting companies during the bubble...

Both were done to satisfy executive egos, so that they can say "look how great everything is".
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