Why IT staffers hate their jobs and what you can do about it

Recent surveys show a lot of IT staffers will try to leave their employers soon. And managers may not want the ones who stay.

Many tech employees, stressed out over stagnant pay and increasing workloads, plan to look for new jobs when the economy improves, according to a recent poll by Harris Interactive.

Retention problems are likely to hit worst in the lower rungs of the IT department: 61% of IT workers earning $35,000 to $50,000 a year are likely to look for a job within the next year. That’s compared to 27% for staffers making $50,000 to $75,000, and 36% of folks making more than that.

However, that doesn’t mean new jobs will be available, and most IT staffers have resigned themselves to the fact that they may not be able to change employers in the near future. Just 27% of those surveyed expected new positions to be open with the next 12 months.

That’s not necessarily good news for managers. As job satisfaction dips, so does motivation — and both are at an all-time low among IT workers, according to a recent report by the Corporate Executive Board.

In a survey of 20,000 IT staffers, just 4% said they were “willing to exert high levels of discretionary effort” — in other words, the majority of staffers are happy doing just the minimum in their jobs. In 2007, 12% of IT staffers were willing to put in extra effort.

What can IT managers do?

First, experts recommend taking another look at salaries and how they compare to market data — in the past couple years, many firms reduced or froze pay, but it may be time to reconsider those moves in order to stay competitive.

Also, consider boosting motivation by switching some job duties around. That can help prevent boredom, while also giving staffers valuable training in new areas.