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IT gets its groove back

Mary Brandel | April 9, 2013
Salaries are rising, and bonuses are back. Though workload worries remain, optimism among IT employees is running high. Here's why.

Workload woes persist

Despite a growing optimism that the IT profession is a promising place to be, tech workers still see room for improvement, particularly in the correlation between salaries and workloads. In the 2013 Computerworld Salary Survey, only 23% of the respondents said that their salaries are keeping pace with business growth and demands.

Asked whether they think they are paid fairly, slightly more than half (51%) said they are underpaid based on their role and responsibility, and 85% reported pressure to increase productivity or take on new tasks.

George Theochares, IT director at Campbell Campbell Edwards & Conroy, says "compensation has not kept up, and working conditions have remained the same, with long hours and unrealistic expectations." Theochares has not had a raise in three years, and his bonuses have decreased. But he still believes that an IT career can be promising -- if techies continually hone their skills and keep an eye out for new opportunities.

Samuel Satyanathan -- who recently accepted a new position at a telecommunications company -- observes, "the best way for me to get a raise was to accept a new job." At his previous employer, he felt slightly underpaid for his experience level compared with his peers at other organizations, and he found it difficult to move up over time. Annual raises were averaging 3% or less, he says, whereas job offers posted on the open market listed salaries that were 10% higher than what he was making.

Eric Shaver, senior vice president of IT at The Plateau Group, says salaries seem to be stable but working conditions continue to worsen as companies to try to do more with less. "I think companies want to compensate better, but sometimes they can't," he says. "As I've moved up the ladder, the pressure to deliver while the business grows is very heavy." Shaver hopes things will change, but so far, he says, "I don't see the compensation matching the increased pressures at this point."

Shaver's company is growing quickly. Its accounts have tripled and its revenue has grown from $43 million in revenue to $88 million in two years, as it has expanded into 48 states from just eight. Although Shaver has been able to expand his IT staff, and hopes to add more employees this year, "it's been tight because of the additional areas we have to cover," he says.

Salaries at Shaver's organization have increased 3% in the past year, and benefits have improved, thanks to changes in healthcare options. However, "overall compensation is lower than we'd like to see," he says. "It's not as competitive as we'd like it to be, and it's something we're working on."


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