NZ IT sector offsets low pay by showing appreciation

In the New Zealand IT sector, pay sometimes isn't everything.

Some Kiwi employers are notorious skinflints.

Some pay so badly that their parsimony is false economy, and they struggle to find and keep the staff they need, with their business suffering as a consequence.

Others pay well, or at least do their best, given the circumstances.

The issue of money has cropped up in the latest salary survey from recruiter Absolute IT.

I have often said how well the New Zealand IT sector is doing, but it seems that wages are not rising. Nationally, IT wages are reportedly stuck at an average of NZ$75,000.

The capital, Wellington, may have an IT sector that is absolutely, positively booming, but even though pay there remains the best in New Zealand, average IT wages have fallen a little due to reduced demand from central government.

In Christchurch, some IT firms cannot get the staff they say they need, spending months trying to recruit individual positions, sometimes with little or no success.

Post-quake Christchurch no longer offers the "lifestyle" or "quality of life" that it used to. I know; I used to live there, and loved the place.

But when I visited last year, I found the central city still largely closed, and the suburbs, where much business activity has moved to, have become a congested, horrid mess. A shortage of housing has pushed up living costs significantly, too.

Absolute IT said companies in Christchurch may have to increase their salaries from between 15 percent to 20 percent in order to get the staff they need.

But what if employers truly, honestly cannot afford to pay more?

Absolute IT found that many are coming up with ways around this by offering other benefits.

Growing numbers of IT workers are enjoying extra holidays, training, healthcare subsidies, flexible working hours, and stock options.

The government was this week urged to make it easier for firms to offer stock options to help cash-strapped businesses become more competitive in attracting workers.

But despite a lack of pay rises, and pay being at the top of their thoughts, IT staff members are generally happy with their jobs. Yes, we all want more money, but obviously if the employer cannot afford it, it becomes a matter of seeking and receiving other benefits.

No one likes feeling abused or exploited, and by offering certain extra benefits, at least an employer is showing that they value their staff and are genuinely trying to do their best by them.

Pay isn't everything, and much boils down to feeling valued and respected.

As I said once before, it's time to bring back the fruit bowl.