Singing the IT blues

Unhappy IT staff have become a major concern to many Australian organisations, according to META Group's annual IT staffing and compensation study, with more than 650 responding companies saying staff morale is currently a "serious issue".More than 72 percent of the survey's respondents said that low employee morale was a significant problem, as META warned that unchecked low employee morale may result in ineffectual production.

Unhappy IT staff have become a major concern to many Australian organisations, according to META Group's annual IT staffing and compensation study, with more than 650 responding companies saying staff morale is currently a "serious issue".

More than 72 percent of the survey's respondents said that low employee morale was a significant problem, as META warned that unchecked low employee morale may result in ineffectual production.

The report stated that "longer-range turnover, lower productivity, and less overall shareholder value to the organisation as a whole" could result from failure to address the problem.

Senior program director at META Group, Maria Schafer, attributes low staff morale to the "prolonged recession" experienced throughout the IT industry, saying that "budget cuts across the enterprise, numerous staff cutbacks, and general sector uncertainty, has definitely taken its toll on IT employee morale"

"The combination of these factors creates a difficult situation for the IT organisation: productivity is hurt by having fewer people, fewer investment dollars for projects, and a perception that companies do not focus on retention," said Schafer.

According to Shafer, the problem should be "proactively" addressed by businesses.

"The IT organisation needs to take a broader view of these issues, and turn them into challenges that ultimately can inspire new behaviours and better business performance," said Schafer. "This approach will also help develop essential experience and a knowledgebase within the IT group."

The survey showed that 45 percent of the responding companies have implemented employee recognition programs to combat low morale, with another 40 percent increasing the opportunity for employees to further their skills.

According to the survey 23 percent of the IT managers surveyed are implementing "professional development programs" to boost staff morale, with 4 percent offering cash bonus incentives for good performances.

The survey reported that the majority of responding organisations were taking steps to gauge employee's job satisfaction.

Of the respondents, 68 percent of organisations claimed to conduct "employee satisfaction surveys", 38 percent said they conducted performance reviews to provoke staff feedback and 14 percent reportedly used "suggestion boxes" to maintain an open channel of communication with employees.

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