Fewer layers of IT management causing workers to jump ship

The number of management levels in IT are below UK average, leaving staff no choice but to move companies for career progression

The IT sector has the least amount of management layers compared with other verticals, causing IT staff to switch companies more often for career progression, a report has revealed.

The survey of 2,000 UK staff showed the average IT company contains only 3.5 layers of management, compared with the UK average of 4.4 across all industries.

The research by recruiter Randstad Technologies analysed all sectors, including accountancy, social work, IT, engineering, nursing and property.

Education and nursing also had 3.5 layers of management, sharing the bottom position with IT and telecoms.

According to the recruiter, the figures reveal why IT workers are switching companies to climb the career ladder.

Managing director of Randstad Technologies Mike Beresford said IT companies creating leaner workforces has had a knock-on effect on internal promotion opportunities.

“Tech employers have been streamlining their business models since the recession, and one of the key ways of doing this has been to reduce layers of management and increase the span of control of each strata.

“As the tiers of middle management are slowly squeezed, the opportunities to climb the career ladder in an organisation are contracting," he said. 

According to Beresford, employees are facing professional stagnation unless they move out of their company to progress their career.

“Employers face losing ambitious high-flyers to their competition – and could find them hard to replace as the universal skills shortage continues to bite,” he warned.

The report revealed 85% of IT roles are filled with external talent, instead of filling vacancies from within. The UK average is 42% across all industries.

Beresford said despite most skilled tech workers being highly sought after, most new roles are filled with talent poached from other companies.

“To climb the career chain and capitalise on demand, it makes most sense for tech workers to move outside their company. Cyber security specialists and project managers are particularly in demand at the moment,” he said.

The survey showed almost a quarter (24%) of companies have reduced their layers of management over the past five years. Only 17% said more layers have been added in that time frame.

According to Beresford, the trend for condensing companies is catching on across the tech industry.

“Squeezing layers of staff together creates a more productive, well-oiled company, able to implement improvements at a faster pace," he said. "But there is less room for progression between positions. There are fewer cogs in the machine, but each cog is locked more firmly into place.”

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