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Unhappy executives in the digital economy

Dot-com employers are finding it tough to retain key staff according to a new report
Written by Andrew Swinton, Contributor

Employers in the new economy are finding it harder than ever to retain the loyalty of their key staff according to a new study recently released by FirstPersonGlobal, a European technology recruitment service.

Surveying 1,500 senior digital economy executives about their working lives, the study reveals that 86% would consider a position with another employer whilst almost a third said it was highly likely they would change their job in the next 12 months.

According to the survey's findings, job satisfaction is a key factor in ensuring staff loyalty. The research found that the two most important elements of job satisfaction are the people you work with (67% rating it very or extremely important) and pride in the company (55%).

Employers wanting to keep hold of their executives should therefore strive to create an environment where these criteria can be met.

"It's very clear in what is a difficult market for job security the retention of high-quality people is paramount. If the upturn comes in the next 12 months, and one third of your staff are planning to move, you will not be able to respond. It is employers, not employees, who need to worry about job security," said Paul Smith, CEO of FirstPersonGlobal. Heads of IT, Project Directors and those working in the telecommunications/internet access sectors are statistically most likely to change jobs in the next 12 months.

The survey questioned executives were from consulting, computer hardware and software, telecommunications and media and marketing about many aspects of their working lives including salary, working conditions and job satisfaction.

The survey dispels the myth that the answer to retaining staff in the new economy is through purely financial rewards such as high wages, bonuses and commissions and particularly stock options. Staff often attach more value to factors affecting job satisfaction, such as work/life balance, health and pension benefits and a challenging work environment than they do to salary. Salaries are not in fact, substantially different from the 'old' economy, and stock options, once seen as the lure of the new economy, are no longer key in recruiting and retaining the right people.

"We have found that executives have a good understanding of their market worth and how they compare to others in the same and different industries.

There is considerable pressure in the competitive modern workplace but a burnt-out workforce is an unproductive one. Although more than one in ten executives 'regularly feel out of control' of their workload, many still indicated they are extremely satisfied with their job.

Ten myths of the new economy

1) People in the new economy will work for low salaries

False The average salary of respondents to the survey is £84,000. The breakdown by sector and job title shows salaries to be broadly in line with those of the rest of the economy. Bonus and commissions were likewise broadly in line.

2) Instead of salary, new economy workers have options worth millions

False Less than half the new economy workers surveyed have options as part of their package. Of those that do, with the exception of the Chief Executive Officers, the average value of options held is around £130,000. Only one in six workers say they would not have taken their current role without the options package.

3) New economy workers are all over paid and under 25

False Only one in eight of those who completed the survey earning over £47,000 is under 30 years old.

4) The new economy levels the gender playing field

False Men out-number women by 4 to 1 amongst those earning £47,000 or more, and by 6 to 1 amongst those on a six-figure salary in the survey.

5) New economy workers work longer hours

False Although the average working week is nearly 50 hours, the average working week in the survey was 52 hours with over a fifth working in excess of 60 hours a week. Weekend working is no more prevalent in the new economy than the "old".

6) Bizarre off-the-wall perks are key in the new economy

False The most common perks in the new economy survey are health care and pension plans. There is no substantial difference between benefits among new economy workers compared with the rest of the economy. Duvet days and taking your dog to work may have captured the headlines but they were not typical.

7) It is all about small start ups in attics in Shoreditch

False Only five percent of respondents work for companies employing less than 10 people. Conversely 38 percent worked for large companies (over 1000 employees)

8) Job mobility is very high with people skipping from one company to the next

True This is a very mobile workforce. The average workers has held 2-3 jobs in the last five years. Only one in seven workers is completely committed to their job, the other six are either passively or actively looking for a new job. In the telecoms sector, one in three workers is actively looking to change roles.

9) New economy offices are fun places to work

True Some two-thirds of respondents cite co-workers as the most important factor contributing to job satisfaction. In management consultancy that rises to four out of five. Challenging work is second highest factor.

10) New economy companies don't make a profit

False Over half of the respondents worked for companies making a profit. The least successful sector is media/content/publishing where only a fraction over a third of respondents are in profitable companies. At the other end, nearly nine out of 10 management consultancies are profitable.

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