Despite uncertainties, 46% of IT employees are looking

Managers may want to take look at their retention efforts

The percentage of IT employees interested in getting a new job is rising, even as they lose confidence in the economic outlook, new survey data shows.

Randstad Technologies, a staffing and recruiting firm, found that 46% of technology workers are likely to look for a new job this year, an independent survey taken in the first quarter found. In the quarter a year ago it was at 41%.

One sign of trouble among IT employees concerns "discretionary effort," or the extra effort above what workers are required to put into their jobs. Discretionary effort, which is measured in surveys by consulting firm CEB, has declined from last year's high point.

The discretionary effort level for IT workers is at 16.5% in the last quarter, which is up .4% from the previous quarter but down 1.7% from its third quarter 2012 high, based on CEB's data from its quarterly labor market survey.

"Even with this recent increase, still, over 8 in 10 IT employees are not going above and beyond to serve the organization beyond what is expected of them," said Brian Kropp, managing director, CEB.

A measure for determining employee interest in staying with their current employer is to assess their "intent to stay" at the current job. CEB found that nearly 26% have "high levels" of "intent to stay," which is a decline of 1.7% from the prior quarter. Of the approximately remaining 75%, "they are either undecided or display strong signs of leaving," said Kropp.

But these job seekers aren't overly optimistic about their prospects.

The Randstad survey also measures the confidence of IT employees in finding a new job, and that confidence is declining. In the first quarter, 38% were confident in their ability to get hired; a year ago it was 42%.

IT employees who felt they were likely to lose their job was at 26% in the first quarter, an increase of 3% from the year ago quarter, Randstad reported.

If employees are worried about their jobs and less confident about the economy, what usually happens is they stay in the job they have. But the opposite appears to be occurring here. That's something Sean Brady, senior vice president of Randstad, said was not easily explained and may be a one-quarter event.

Brady points out that the first quarter was marked by news about the fiscal cliff, sequestration, and the problems in Europe. He said a rise in merger activity may be contributing to employee interest in finding a new employer.

"Perception is created by very many variables," said Brady of the economic outlook represented by the data. "From a business standpoint, we're not seeing this in our numbers," he said.

They are seeing more demand for IT help, not less. The Randstad survey was conducted by Harris Interactive and interviewed 3,631 adults, of which 183 are employed in IT.

More IT organizations are hiring instead of firing, Robert Half Technology, a recruiting firm, said on Tuesday. It said that 12% of the CIOs they interviewed expect to expand their IT teams in the third quarter, compared to 14% from the previous quarter.

More than half of the CIOs plan to hire for open IT roles, 26% expect to put hiring plans on hold, and 6% are planning reductions, Robert Half reported.

Read more about it careers in Computerworld's IT Careers Topic Center.

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