What is the state of the enterprise IT workplace today?
Employee rotation in and out of IT roles was the theme of the day at Forresters Teleconference on the Enterprise IT Career March 19, correlated with more successful recruitment and better worker retention. Yet only a minority of firms embraced these concepts.
While computer science still leads in educational backgrounds of IT professionals, other studies are quickly gaining traction.
When asked what educational backgrounds they recruit from, 90 percent of IT decision-makers in large IT shops (more than 500 employees) and 87 percent in small ones (less than 500 employees) cited computer science programs, followed by a hybrid of computer science and management undergraduate programs (75 and 67 percent, respectively), and 39 in both categories pointed to non-IT majors and backgrounds.
Though various masters degrees—Master of Science in technology-related fields, MBA/MIS programs and MBA programs alone—fell further down the recruitment priority list, it was these areas in which large IT shops predominantly focused their efforts.
Forrester researchers found that while IT often complains about the quality of the university programs that produce their recruits, it is fairly passive in its interactions with academia.
Only 43 percent of IT decision-makers surveyed said they participated in job fairs; only 23 percent said they served on advisory boards; an equal percent said they lectured in classrooms and 16 percent sponsored scholarships for students in IT-related majors. Only 12 percent donated technology to universities, or served on curriculum review committees.
Though it may seem innocuous, lack of engagement with higher education was found to have a significant impact on employee turnover. The turnover at firms whose IT leaders served on curriculum review committees was 6 percent, but jumped to 12 percent at firms with no engagement in academia.
Rotation in and out of IT jobs remains relatively uncommon at most firms, Forrester research found, likely increasing the isolative nature of IT departments in most companies. Only 22 percent of firms had internal IT rotation and of these, only 11 percent had taken advantage of it in 2005. In terms of IT-to-business rotation, only 12 percent of companies had it, and only 8 percent of their workers participated in it in 2005. Numbers were lowest among business-to-IT rotation, where 7 percent of firms offered it, but only 6 percent actually took advantage in 2005.
Rotation was most common, however, in firms where succession-planning had already taken part on the director level. Those with a list of internal successor pre-identified for consideration, and that could be ramped up in 12 or fewer months, had a 30 percent rotation participation rate, versus 11 percent at those who had not planned successions.
Rotation was also common at companies that hired at the entry level. Twenty-seven percent of those with internal IT rotation were hiring at the entry level versus 10 percent who were not. 14 percent of those with IT-to-business rotation were hiring workers with only basic IT skills, versus 6 percent who were not. Finally, and most abruptly, 11 percent of the firms with business-to-IT rotation hired at the entry level versus zero percent at those which did not.
Next Page: Retention
In Forresters research, IT was shown to use a wide range of employee retention tactics, from training (89 percent), formal performance management programs (89 percent), new hire orientations (69 percent) to individual career development plans (69 percent), formal leadership development (52 percent) and 360-degree feedback (46 percent).
However, they found that for the retention programs to be effective, the tactics needed to be integrated into larger talent management strategies including dual career paths, tying rotation into promotions along these paths, correlating training with skill gaps at each path level and identifying key performers along the path and targeting them for succession planning.
Roles and Skills
The prioritized skill sets of 2007 hires included security (31 percent), project management (26 percent), network management (26 percent), infrastructure architecture (25 percent) and enterprise architecture and design skills (24 percent).
Sixty percent intended to train workers in change management, 59 percent intended to do so in project management, 58 percent in service management and an equal number in business process skills and vendor and sourcing management.
IT decision-makers said they were most likely to outsource legacy programming (23 percent), packaged application support (23 percent) and application maintenance management (18 percent) and most likely to contract out similar skills, though at lower percentages.
Check out eWEEK.coms Careers Center for the latest news, analysis and commentary on careers for IT professionals.