Return of the Guru

As the Worm Turns, Firms May Lose Their Best IT Workers

Ara Trembly
Insurance Experts' Forum, July 22, 2010

To quote the redoubtable Axl Rose, “Nothing lasts forever,” and according to recent survey data, that sentiment now applies to IT workers’ fears about current and future employment.

A PR Newswire item reports that The IT Employee Confidence Index increased 6.6 points to 58.2 in the second quarter of 2010, according to a recent survey commissioned by Technisource, the technology services division of SFN Group Inc. The survey, conducted by Harris Interactive, shows a sharp rise in IT worker confidence in the strength of the economy, job availability, and in their ability to find a new job.

What’s that? IT workers are now more confident about finding a new job? Now that is interesting news. As the report notes, “With this increase in confidence in the overall market, more workers also indicate that they are likely to look for a new job in the next 12 months.”

Survey results reveal that 38% of technology workers believe the economy is getting stronger (compared to 32% in the first quarter), and the percentage of IT workers confident in their ability to find a new job increased by 13 percentage points to 54% in the second quarter of 2010. In addition, fewer IT workers believe fewer jobs are available (49% in the second quarter of 2010 versus 68% in the first quarter of 2010). Thirty-seven percent of technology workers are likely to search for job opportunities in the next 12 months, up five percentage points from the first quarter of 2010.

"The marked increase in confidence this quarter tells us that technology workers may be in a more solid position for the economic recovery compared to other industries," says Michael Winwood, president of Technisource. "During the recession many companies had to initiate hiring freezes, postpone new technology implementations and simply 'do more with less.’”

Sounds a lot like what we’ve been experiencing in the insurance industry, don’t you think?

It appears that suddenly, all those IT employees who were held hostage by a hostile economy are beginning to believe they will be rescued—and when they are set free, they won’t forget how their captor companies treated them. If you’re a top IT worker who’s had to experience layoffs all around you, outsourcing of colleagues’ jobs, cuts in funding for your projects, demands that you work longer hours and—oh yes—that raise you didn’t get last year or the year before, you are probably salivating at the thought of getting out into the job market to find someone who appreciates you.

The worm has turned. For those companies who failed to let their top talent know how valuable they are—especially during the toughest of times—the likelihood of retaining these individuals is certainly questionable.

Everyone understands that in a crisis such as the recession from which we are slowly emerging, hard decisions have to be made. Along the way, however, many companies—perhaps some insurers as well—have placed unreasonable burdens on their top IT talent, knowing full well that there was no other place for those individuals to go in that environment. The companies had those IT workers over a barrel—helpless. If the survey data are correct, however, and the numbers keep trending towards more confidence, those companies can say sayonara to their best in IT.

For some of you, however, it may not be too late. Times have been (and continue to be) tough, but a little appreciation and perhaps a few perks could go a long way toward avoiding a painful loss. If those IT people of yours are really that good, then it’s certainly worth going the extra mile to retain them.

Ara C. Trembly (www.aratremblytechnology.com) is the founder of Ara Trembly, The Tech Consultant, and a longtime observer of technology in insurance and financial services.

Readers are encouraged to respond to Ara using the “Add Your Comments” box below. He can also be reached at ara@aratremblytechnology.com.

This blog was exclusively written for Insurance Networking News. It may not be reposted or reused without permission from Insurance Networking News.

The opinions of bloggers on www.insurancenetworking.com do not necessarily reflect those of Insurance Networking News.

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