Employees want more flexible arrangements

High salaries are not the sole criteria for IT staff, reports John Kavanagh

High salaries are not the sole criteria for IT staff, reports John Kavanagh

Changing attitudes towards money, work and family life among IT staff will force employers to offer more flexible arrangements and services such as creches over the next five years, according to new studies.

But staff have been warned to be sure that the services do not in fact tie them even more to their offices.

"Typical IT workers are now so cash-rich and time-poor that pay rises are far less important than finding time to spend with their families," says Gary Fallaize, managing director of RRC Business Training, which has surveyed 220 UK companies.

"Less than 30% of the companies describe their staff as being driven mostly by money. More that 70% feel that working hours encroach too much on domestic life for most of their staff. And nearly 45% say staff have trouble juggling home and work life."

He adds, "In a sector that is traditionally viewed as populated by very ambitious and money-oriented workers, only 43% of employers believe their staff would willingly work weekends and evenings."

Fears about job security in IT were highlighted as an issue by 86% of those questioned, yet this was generally not reflected in feelings about staff loyalty - less than half thought loyalty was a problem.

"These findings highlight an increasing problem facing IT employers, which now have staff for whom money is not the main incentive," Fallaize says. "These employers must look to find other benefits to reward and motivate staff."

Fallaize sees training as one of these incentives. A study by IT training supplier KnowledgePool, reported last month, found that 75% of staff rated training as being as important as pay, and 18% thought it more important.

But employers will have to get even more imaginative - especially in the area of accommodating family life - as skills shortages increase, according to another new survey, by employment specialist Hay Management Consultants.

"The intensifying war for talent is finally making many organisations realise that rewarding their employees well is much more than a financial question," says Hay senior consultant Steve Watson. "They need to think about their practical and emotional needs too. They must do more to address the general quality of their staff's lives and how they feel about work."

Hay's survey shows that 90% of personnel managers expect their organisation to be "family friendly" within five years.

Almost 55% think they will offer flexible hours, compared with 23% that provide this option today. Almost a quarter will provide practical support such as creches to make life easier, compared with 10% now. And 10% expect their companies will offer packages adapted to individuals' lives.

Work should also encroach less on home time: 45% believe this is a problem now but only 25% expect it to be an issue in five years time.

Personnel managers see staff increasingly being invited to pick and mix benefits, for example taking more holiday and less pay. Only 2% of those questioned say they offer this today, but 35% think they will by 2005.

The Hay Management Consultants survey also shows that 66% of the personnel managers questioned believe their organisation is inconsistent in recognising staff achievements - this leads to resentment and unease.

More than 80% of personnel managers believe their organisations do not properly respect their staff. And only 4% think their employer encourages people to work in new ways and take risks without blaming them if they fail, 22% expect this will improve by 2005.

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