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Job Satisfaction Survey: What's wrong here?

The tepid economy has created a slow burn in the IT workforce. With a boatload of work to do, little training and a lack of confidence in their companies, today's IT workers are feeling overtaxed, disenfranchised -- and boiling mad.

By Thomas Hoffman
November 24, 2003 12:00 PM ET

Computerworld - IT workers are getting a little hot under the collar. Last year's Job Satisfaction Survey showed that while a majority of managers and staffers wished for bigger raises and more advancement opportunities, they were grateful overall just to have jobs, given the weak economy.
This year, some of that cool stoicism has worn away. Computerworld's 2003 Job Satisfaction Survey shows a workforce more vocal about its frustrations: Fifty-six percent of the 936 respondents said they are less satisfied with their companies than they were a year ago, and 55% said they're dissatisfied with their opportunities for advancement. Moreover, 69% of IT workers said they don't think they're working to their full potential, and 59% report being more stressed out than they were a year ago.
Same All Over
It may be cold comfort to IT workers, but they're not alone in their dissatisfaction. According to a survey of 5,000 U.S. households that was published by The Conference Board Inc. in September, less than half of Americans are satisfied with their jobs -- the highest level of career discontent since the New York-based research firm began conducting the survey in 1995.
"I think you could look at every job function in the U.S. and find the same thing," says Paul Klein, senior vice president and CIO at Rich Products Corp., a frozen foods manufacturer in Buffalo, N.Y. "Talk to accountants, HR managers and people in R&D, and you'll find similar reactions."
CIOs and other IT career experts say some of the discontent can be tied to the still-lingering effects of the dot-com boom, when many IT workers were showered with big bonuses and other perks. Now that cost-cutting is king and unemployment remains high, employers are the ones calling the shots.
But IT managers are feeling the impact, too, as Jason D. Blevins reports. Blevins is MIS director at Manchester Tool & Die Inc. in North Manchester, Ind., where he conservatively places his compensation at 20% of what an average U.S. MIS director takes in. "And there's no way I'll get close to even 40% of the national average," says Blevins. "But I'm not a city person, and I expect some pay drop working in the country."
Says Tim Monteith, CIO at Domino's Pizza LLC in Ann Arbor, Mich., "With the economy being tighter and IT [opportunities] not nearly as wide open as a few years ago, people in IT might feel more stressed and more trapped."
Unwieldy Workload
Some IT workers say it's common for their employers to redistribute work among remaining staffers when co-workers leave voluntarily or are



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