Surprise: Voluntary IT Turnover Remains High

IT workers last year voluntarily left jobs at rates up to 20 percent in some sectors, suggesting morale and other problems in the IT workplace.

Rather than hunkering down during the recession, IT workers last year actually left jobs voluntarily at rates as high as 20 percent in some sectors, according to Meta Groups recently released 2002 IT Staffing and Compensation Guide. The report said the results suggest widespread morale and other problems in the IT workplace.

The report--which scrutinized 170 IT positions and their salaries and surveyed compensation and IT specialists at more than 600 medium-sized to large U.S. companies—found that the average voluntary turnover rate was 10 percent. That figure was down by only one percentage point over 2001. According to the report, a turnover rate of 9 percent is considered healthy, while rates greater than 10 percent generally indicate fundamental problems with productivity and morale.

The highest turnover rate, 20 percent, was found in the transportation and distribution industry. Media/publishing wasnt far behind, with a voluntary turnover rate of 18 percent. Healthcare clocked in at 17 percent.

More than half the reports respondents indicate retention of IT professionals is a "very serious" or "fairly serious" issue. Maybe thats one reason why retention bonuses to IT workers increased: The report found that theyre being handed out at a rate that increased 32 percent over the past year, from 12 percent to 44 percent.

Among the IT skills considered the most difficult to retain were e-commerce/Internet skills (24 percent) and application development skills (20 percent).

Other findings of the report included:

  • Involuntary departure rates were high: 45 percent of survey respondents said they have fewer IT staff than last year.
  • Despite the downturn, 34 percent of IT organizations have increased their total number of IT staff.
  • The federal work force is facing retirement of more than 50 percent of its work force during the next five to seven years.

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