[Geeks are Sexy] technology news

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Companies Find It Hard to Keep their IT People.

For those of us who have worked in IT for 10 years or more, we joined the IT ranks during the height of the IT/High-Tech bubble (a buzzword for a time when companies hired like crazy). Back then, they were throwing ridiculous amounts of money at us, and didn't care if you knew anything (Hence the term 'paper-techy' - which stood for someone who was certified out the hoop, but had little to no work experience at all).

I came upon this great article in
IT World Canada which I thought was VERY interesting. It stated that companies have found it very difficult to keep their IT employees happy, or had troubles recruiting new IT staff. It also suggested that if High-tech firms or other non-high-tech companies wished to hold on to their IT personnel, they should start thinking of creative ways to keep them or recruit them.

"About 75 per cent of all respondents said attracting and retaining people was a major challenge." ~ IT World Canada

Surprised? I know I'm not! Over the years, I have worked for some pretty big firms. In the interests of NOT getting into any legal 'deep-water' I will not mention any here, but I will say this: I have found that in Ottawa (aka: Silicon Valley North), High-Tech corporations that have employee counts that number over 400 treat their IT staff like a number. We've all heard this before; I'm sure we've all said it at one point or another. Companies like this used to demand long hours of me. At one particular spot, it was nothing for them to double shift me, effectively making my normal 8 hours work day into a 16 hours one!

Shift work was killer. Working Tuesday Through Thursday between the hours of 11pm and 7am, and then working the Friday/Saturday shifts 9am to 5pm - was NUTS, and a manager actually gave me that schedule for over 2 months. By the end of it - I'd quit my job with less than a day's notice and told him where he could stick his --- you guessed it folks --- $12/hr job where the sun don't shine.

Furthermore - we IT guys don't like to sit stagnant. We HAVE TO LEARN. And many companies, including the one that I'm with now, refuse to invest money into the education of their staff. They want you to know everything right outta the box - so that they don't have to spend their revenue on YOU. this is becoming an unfortunate by-product of today's High-Tech downturn over the past 4 years.

"You are wasting your money if you try to retain them in traditional ways. What they really care about is: Are they learning? Are they meeting interesting people? Are they having fun? These are the three big drivers to retain them."

I've been lucky in my career! I worked with a fantastic Mobile-Software R&D company who made HUGE strides in the development of SVG (Scalable Vector Graphic), and actually help put SVG into the Standard Spec @ W3C for mobile software technologies. They were cutting edge! I worked for them for 5 years and the only reason I stayed there for so long was because the 3 above things were present. They sent me away 3 times a year on course to further my education where it pertained to the business. The people I worked with were not only colleagues or peers, but they were also like a second family, and working there was a blast! I looked forward every day to go into work! At their largest, this company got to 125 employees, and then the "Bubble" popped and layoffs began, until finally, they were acquired by a huge ECM corporation based out of Waterloo.

At that point, my role as System Administrator became a glorified desktop specialist, and I felt as if I had no purpose.

Sadly - I guess I wasn't alone, as this article seems to suggest.

I'm in a much happier place now. The company I work for, again in the mobile technology space, is cutting edge, with lots of challenges. I hope that everyone else is that lucky too.

Read the Article.


  • I don't work in IT, but I have friends who have hopped around from place to place for pretty much the reasons you listed.

    Good luck to you.

    By Blogger Chez Bez, at 9:32 AM  

  • believe me, it's not just Canada.

    Over seven years of working in various in-house SAP jobs with some top multinationals have reinforced my belief that the IT role is becoming more and more devalued, even as the technology becomes more pervasive. I earned my stripes doing 18 hour data migrations in some godawful corners of the world and yet have seen glorified yes men in marketing roles get the fast track promotions. Every time I stopped feeling valued / learning something new I changed tack and applied to a new role. Guess what? I'm moving again!

    By Blogger shoegazer, at 9:50 AM  

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