Study: Companies Paying to Retain Tech Talent

Despite stagnant or sinking IT budgets, skilled technology workers are getting their due.

According to new research from The META Group, 61 percent of IT managers said compensation will account for a quarter to a half of their budgets in 2003. Last year, only 40 percent claimed the same range.

“We expect IT compensation to actually rise, in some cases at the expense of non-IT employees,” said Maria Schafer, who wrote META’s annual IT Staffing and Compensation Guide.

The overwhelming majority of firms continue to pay IT employees more than their non-technical counterparts. And the number of companies doing so has increased to 75 percent, up from 67 percent last year. The level is approaching the historic high of 80 percent in 2000.

The imbalance can be partially attributed to the overall need to retain key IT staff, Schafer said. Cash bonuses are the most popular way of keeping employees happy. According to the guide, 54 percent of respondents are still giving IT workers year-end bonuses, while a surprising 44 percent still offer sign-on bonuses to attract talent.

The Stamford, Conn., research firm said its IT Staffing and Compensation Guide tracks salary and bonus information for nearly 180 IT positions. It also includes job descriptions, expected responsibilities and reporting structures.

The META Group report is the latest that sees bright spots for IT workers, who have endured two tough years. Earlier this year, the Information Technology Association of America (ITAA)

The ITAA found that the mean salary for all IT positions in large enterprises increased from $73,856 in January of 2002 to $78,687 this month, according to a study just out by Janco Associates Inc., a Park city, Utah-based consulting firm. In mid-sized companies, the number has gone up from $66,554 to $72,619 in the same time frame.