One critical benefit IT employees want

A lot of IT employees feel overworked and underpaid right now, and many are considering changing jobs. Here’s one way IT managers can increase their satisfaction and keep them on board: 

Help them expand their skill sets.

Not only do IT employees need to stay sharp regarding basic IT operations like networking and desktop management, but new technologies constantly appear and require new skills — including, most recently, cloud computing, mobile technology and big data, among others.

That’s one reason why, despite an improving economy and an increase in the number of IT jobs available, nearly all IT employees (93%) say they’re stressed about their jobs, according to a recent ComputerWorld survey.

Specifically, 26% of the 4,300 IT professionals surveyed said they’re worried about keeping their skills up to date and remaining valuable to employers. Another 15% said finding a new job that’s appropriate for the skills they currently have is a major concern.

What that means for IT managers: Helping IT staff boost their skills is a great benefit that can be offered to employees when there’s little room in the budget for salary increases. It’ll also increase loyalty and raise job satisfaction, making it easier to retain employees.

And, of course, it allows the IT department to gain new skill sets without having to hire new employees.

Companies have the option of sending IT employees to seminars, classes and other formal training programs. However, due to costs and scheduling issues, IT managers often need to get creative in how they help IT staff boost their skill sets. Here are some other options to consider:

Online training — According to one recent survey, 50% of companies offer online training for IT employees. The benefits: It’s often cheaper than other methods, and the flexibility allows employees to complete training with minimal disruption to their usual workloads.

Rotate jobs — IT departments can have employees swap jobs in order to give each some hands-on experience in a new area. That not only helps the employees learn skills, it will also make sure there are people cross-trained in different tasks that can serve as back-ups when the primary staffer isn’t available.

Mentors outside IT — General business skills are becoming more important for IT pros to succeed. One way can companies can help is to have managers from other parts of the organization serve as mentors for IT employees that want to boost their business acumen.

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