Is IT a profession in trouble? Why IT professionals feel left out

By Josh Bersin, Principal and Founder, Bersin by Deloitte
Josh Bersin

Josh Bersin

The world of IT has changed dramatically in the last 20 years. Decades ago Information Technology (IT) was considered a creative and strategic profession. These individuals developed applications, integrated systems, architected data structures, and were responsible for many of the most strategic technologies in business.

Today, however, IT is far less sexy. The Bureau of Labor Statistics[1] shows that the IT profession is expected to grow at about 15% over the next ten years (faster than the overall job market of 11%) and some areas (information security) will grow at 2-3 times that rate. But when compared to other technical professions (computer science, data analytics, mobile design), the profession is growing at a much slower rate. The BLS data shows that the average five-year-tenured IT manager in the US now makes around $120,000 per year, only 20-30% more than an entry-level computer science or petroleum engineer with a similar technical background.

Of course there is good reason for this. Their jobs have changed dramatically over the years, and now most of the innovative development takes place among cloud vendors (who also need IT professionals) and less and less in the corporate IT department.

In my own travels, I get a chance to talk with hundreds of talented professionals in all disciplines, and it seemed to me that IT staff in general were a little less engaged and excited about the future than many others I’ve interviewed. So I asked TINYpulse, an engagement survey company, to look at some data.

In the Spring of 2015, TINYpulse, an employee engagement survey company, compiled survey responses from more than 2,000 employees located in mid-sized and large corporations around the US[2].  Here is what they found.

IT Professionals are “Less Happy” than Average Professional Workers

First, based on our survey results, there is a significant statistical difference between the happiness of IT professionals and other business professionals in general.

On the question “On a scale of 1 to 10, how happy are you at work?” only 19% of IT employees answered with a high rating — 9 or 10 — compared to 22% of all other employees, a statistically significant difference (around 14% less happy).

Workplace satisfaction is about much more than an employee’s mood. It can impact whether someone wants to stay in their job, how quickly they develop in their role, and how invested they are in their work. Gallup’s research also suggests that being engaged boosts workers’ creativity and innovation.

IT employees are generally highly skilled, customer-oriented people, and they want to grow their careers. Let’s look at this second dimension of engagement (review our Simply Irresistible[3] model for more detail) — opportunities for growth.

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