IT Pros Working Much Harder for Slightly More Pay

IT salaries are continuing to climb modestly this year, and most enterprises continue to offer year-end bonuses, says Meta Group.

IT salaries are continuing to climb modestly this year, and most enterprises continue to offer year-end bonuses, according to a newly-released 2003 IT Staffing and Compensation Guide from Meta Group, Inc.

Despite the moderately positive salary news, however, the report revealed morale problems among IT professionals, many of whom are working harder and longer to compensate for staff cutbacks, said Maria Schafer, program director for Metas Human Capital Management service and author of the annual guide.

Two-thirds of survey respondents told Meta Group that low IT staff morale is a concern. Two-thirds also said theyve lost some IT staff over the last year.

"Its tough," said Schafer. "IT people in general work long hours. A fifty-five-hour work week is just part of the territory for a lot of the jobs."

For those IT professionals who remain employed, however, salaries continue to rise. The Meta survey found that the average rate of base salary increase for IT professionals is 5 percent this year. Thats about the same average base pay increase rate that the company saw last year. The base pay increase rate is higher—between 8 and 10 percent on average—for IT professionals with specific hot skills such as application development and network infrastructure design, said Schafer.

The base pay increase comes despite cuts in overall IT budgets at many companies. As a result, IT salaries are consuming a larger percentage of IT budgets, the study found. Sixty-one percent of respondents said compensation eats up between 25 and 50 percent of their IT budgets. Only 40 percent said so last year, Meta found.

Seventy-five percent of respondents said IT professionals receive higher salaries than comparable non-IT professionals at their companies. Sixty-seven percent said the same thing last year, according to the study.

The survey showed a slightly increased expectation among IT managers that salaries will continue to grow next year. Twenty-six percent said they expect an increase in IT compensation budgets during the next year. Twenty-two percent said the same last year.

Schafer said many IT managers report they are too strapped for time to do much about low staff morale. While 84 percent said they survey IT workers to learn about their thoughts and concerns, 75 percent said they dont take formal action in response to those findings because they dont have the means, Schafer said. While 55 percent of IT managers said they are maintaining investments in staff training, many said its becoming harder to do so because they cant spare the staff time it takes to send workers to class.

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