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Businesses IT

IT Job Satisfaction Plummets To All-Time Low 453

Posted by samzenpus
from the take-this-job-and-shove-it dept.
cweditor writes "IT job satisfaction has plummeted to a 10-year low, according to a recent survey. Another on general job satisfaction rated IT a paltry 45%. From the article: 'The CEB's latest survey found that the willingness of IT employees to "exert high levels of discretionary effort" — put in extra hours to solve a problem, make suggestions for improving processes, and generally seek to play a key role in an organization — has plummeted to its lowest levels since the survey was launched 10 years ago.'"
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IT Job Satisfaction Plummets To All-Time Low

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  • IT employees in the category of "highly engaged" workers has fallen to 4%

    That's why there is a growing movement toward mastering our own destiny, becoming entrepreneurs and working for ourselves. Putting together a cool app in your spare time [fairsoftware.net] is way more fun, and it you hit the jackpot, bingo! No more clueless boss!

    • by LostCluster (625375) * on Thursday January 07, 2010 @01:20AM (#30679560)
      There's also a growing trend towards freelance jobs I'm seeing. Not very many small companies need a full time programmer for a endless time... they're willing to pay the premium to get you where they need you for a few months, then wait a bit while you find the next one.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 07, 2010 @02:03AM (#30679750)

        I became a sole contractor 7 years ago after 13 years in a fantasticly innovative company. There is actually more job security as I usually work for 3-5 clients at any one time and the mix of clients varies. As many in the past have been start-ups, I have seen quite a few go belly-up (especially at he magic 2 year point when they run out of money and decide to give up).

        From these jobs, I came to the same conclusion as LostCluster: companies see the value in getting contractors to create and complete the product, then spend most of their time on sell sell sell. It's obvious, there is no money coming in during development.

        Based on my experience, equity should be seen as a bonus. Basically there is no money in technology. You have to be very very lucky. Get the maximum exposure to possible successes and keep you eyes open for opportunities.

        I also disagree with creating a cool app other than for your own excitement or if you are really an entrepreneur. It takes a team and money to create an app. And don't believe those people who say they created a commercial iPhone app in one week. It is a huge commitment to create a software company.

        But working from home, having plenty of time for my wife and kids ... priceless!
        Oh, and my productivity sky-rocketed.

        • by rindeee (530084) on Thursday January 07, 2010 @07:41AM (#30681128)
          I concur with much of what you've stated. I've been a contractor for the past 15 of my 22 years in IT. I love it! Being an employee, not so much. As a contractor, I get to get out there and build a name for myself. I have a reputation that I am in control of. When you work for a particular company your reputation is only as good as the recommendation they'll give you when you live (which is often none, no matter how happy they were with you). The experience you gain, the improved quality of life, the variety of people you work with and the networking opportunities are priceless. I hope never to leave the contracting world.
          • by DJRumpy (1345787) on Thursday January 07, 2010 @09:42AM (#30682216)

            I don't know about anyone else, but this insane bean counting has driven all semblance of enjoyment out of my job. I'm salaried of course, but I must still report my day in 15 minute increments, use archaic micromanagement tools for every aspect of everything I do as if I'm some sort of consultant who is billing back time. I'm reporting my time in no less than 3 different tools, and in some cases, up to 6.

            What happened to IT that they've embraced micromanagement on such an asinine scale?

            • by rhsanborn (773855) on Thursday January 07, 2010 @10:33AM (#30682874)
              Because management doesn't understand technical work. They want programmers to be like factory workers turning out parts. They want a metric by which they can easily assign times and costs to. They want to be able to remove any programmer on a moments notice and replace that programmer with no effort, like a shop worker.

              They want IT employees to be like mechanics. They want a fixed set of prospective problems and a book that tells them how much time it takes to fix.

              They don't appreciate what technical work really is, and how complex it is. They don't like that, but they'll keep trying to shove it into a mold they can understand. The mold they were taught in their night courses at the community college on how to run a business.
    • by Tablizer (95088) on Thursday January 07, 2010 @01:49AM (#30679688) Journal

      Been there done that. It's thrilling trying to go out on your own into the wild blue yonder of a startup, but the failure rate is high, it requires being good at wearing multiple hats, and it's not for people with mortgages to pay.

      • by Surt (22457) on Thursday January 07, 2010 @02:09AM (#30679784) Homepage Journal

        No kidding. I saw this news item on a guy in san carlos who took out a 1.3million dollar mortgage based on his startup salary. Beyond my lack of comprehension for how he could possibly cover the payments on a startup salary, he apparently didn't consider the risks very carefully, and as it would happen, the startup went belly up. Now he wants people to pay his mortgage for him.

        http://helpuskeepourhome.org/ [helpuskeepourhome.org]

        Meanwhile, I didn't buy a home I couldn't afford, and for some reason no one wants to just give me money.

        • by sshore (50665) on Thursday January 07, 2010 @03:08AM (#30680022)

          Meanwhile, I didn't buy a home I couldn't afford, and for some reason no one wants to just give me money.

          Hah! Don't you feel foolish now.

          My father once said, to paraphrase.. "you can be one of those complaining about the people getting free cash.. or you can be one of the people getting free cash."

          +1 insightful, in retrospect.

        • by dcollins (135727)

          There's also the 5-kids with a 6th-on-the-way issue. Geez.

        • by maestroX (1061960) on Thursday January 07, 2010 @03:44AM (#30680160)

          No kidding. I saw this news item on a guy in san carlos who took out a 1.3million dollar mortgage based on his startup salary. Beyond my lack of comprehension for how he could possibly cover the payments on a startup salary, he apparently didn't consider the risks very carefully, and as it would happen, the startup went belly up. Now he wants people to pay his mortgage for him

          I seen this one shit on the news a couple weeks ago that made me sick.

          Some dude was drunk and drove his mortgage over the top

          And had his startup in the trunk and she was pregnant with his debts

          And in the car they found a tape but it didn't say who it was to

          Come to think about it...his name was...it was you.

          Damn.

        • by Actually, I do RTFA (1058596) on Thursday January 07, 2010 @11:11AM (#30683474)

          . Beyond my lack of comprehension for how he could possibly cover the payments on a startup salary, he apparently didn't consider the risks very carefully, and as it would happen, the startup went belly up. Now he wants people to pay his mortgage for him.

          And he still doesn't seem to have learned his lesson:

          We have always lived within our means[Empasis added]. It was close each month[Empasis added], like most people, but hard work paid off and allowed us to live in the home we desired, in a nice neighborhood.

          Those statements are mutually exclusive.

    • by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Thursday January 07, 2010 @02:03AM (#30679752)
      But putting together "your own app" is not IT. That's software. Two different businesses.
      • by ducomputergeek (595742) on Thursday January 07, 2010 @02:54AM (#30679982)

        Software development is writing code. IT is going around to people who are never happy because something is broken. I did that as a field tech for 3 years and never once did I walk into a situation where the person was happy. Then it was the mystical game of figuring out if the problem was hardware, software, our stuff, another venders stuff, etc..

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by rgravina (520410)

      I don't know... I have briefly tried freelancing but I can't shake the feeling of just wasting my time. I really don't like being a lone programmer sitting in my room trying to find ways to fill my time, doing whatever work I can find. Even if I go out, I waste so much time travelling from cafe to cafe. It's fun for a while, but when I really want to get stuff done, I *need* an office. Perhaps if I was freelancing in a shared office setup it would be different. I just can't work from home. I also miss thing

    • by mlts (1038732) * on Thursday January 07, 2010 @02:22AM (#30679850)

      There are two problems with that statement: First, the app market is saturated, and not just the iPhone. Even Android's market is starting to bulge at the seams with fart apps and Tetris clones.

      Second, a lot of IT people would form companies, but there are products which just can't be made in the backyard. They require some initial VC funding because it requires a machine shop, studio, crypt, or other place with specialized equipment, and money to invest in equipment.

      For example, say I wanted to go into business selling some type of enterprise equipment. I'd need to have an office. I'd then need to have the machines and the raw material (studio and tapes, CNC machine and billets, etc.) Even before the first thing I wanted to sell rolled off the line, I'd have to have hundreds of thousands invested. And there isn't any way around this with a number of things. Maybe you could do a prototype on a shoestring, but you can't sell these to a customer unless you find someone ready, willing, and able to take a gamble with your product so it goes from a prototype and into customers' hands.

      So, starting a business is a lot harder than you think. If your city has a SCORE, visit them with your ideas. It may hurt finding out that what you have isn't doable, but it is better to find it out there than after you sold your house and are hundreds of grand invested... and don't even have a single dollar in income yet.

  • by hedgemage (934558) on Thursday January 07, 2010 @01:34AM (#30679626)
    Its no secret that when the economy goes south, management philosophy becomes much more "conservative" which means that managers revert back to a stragey of cracking the whip to get results rather than more modern philosophies involving team dynamics, encouraging self-regulation by employees, and so forth. The old-school tactics are easier to explain to the uninitiated shareholders or board members whereas touchy-feely empowerment strategies don't have a x=y effect on a balance sheet.
    I'm coming from the hourly IT support side of things and moving into management (getting an MBA in the process) and the traps that managers fall into when dealing with shrunken budgets and raised expectations are so blatantly obvious to me that I'm having a real hard time not grabbing my superiors (who're by no means techies) by the collars and shaking some sense into them. We're in a transitional period of history, IMO (did I mention I'm a historian too?) where the status of employees as resources rather than liabilities is in danger from too many people thinking that better/faster/cheaper can apply to people as well as processes.
    • by LostCluster (625375) * on Thursday January 07, 2010 @01:50AM (#30679692)

      Around 1999/2000 there was a thought that tech was going the highest paying major in college, and that attracted a few people who would have otherwise gone into other fields. The best tech people are the ones who live around it, read tech news such as this site here, and come home to more pixels than they have at work. Anybody who believes the only tech they need to know is the one or two programs they use at work is blindsided by world events too often.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by YXdr (1396565)

        No, the best tech people are the ones that solve the problems that their business needs solved. Sometimes that comes from the guy who knows the technology, and sometimes that comes from the folks who understand the problem.

        And when you're really lucky, you get both parts of the equation from the same people ...

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward
          You must be an MBA, or stupid. Wait, that's redundant. You can't solve a tech problem without knowing the tech. You might think you solved it, but in reality either a) the guy who DOES know the tech and really DID fix the problem is just letting you feel good about yourself, or b) you really just made even bigger problems for some poor techie down the road.
          • by Imrik (148191) on Thursday January 07, 2010 @02:33AM (#30679898) Homepage

            Yes you have to know the tech you're working with, but that's not what he's talking about. The "guy who knows the technology" is someone who is knowledgeable about all kinds of technology and not just what's being worked with, which may or may not be useful depending on the problem.

          • by mlts (1038732) * on Thursday January 07, 2010 @02:46AM (#30679958)

            What I find so ironic about MBA programs is that one of the required things they teach in the class lineup is management and employee morale. Employee morale isn't just liquid latex Fridays or coffee in the break room. It takes actual diplomacy and person to person interaction, so people don't just go to work for a paycheck, but actually feel valued.

            Why is this important? A lot more work gets done at a company where salaried people are willing to work on something, just to make sure the company makes a sales goal, as opposed to people just wanting to "do their eight and out the gate." Don't forget that high morale makes the need for internal security less pressing because employees will be proactive in security issues.

            The MBA degree isn't the issue as much as the people who get the degree tend to not heed what they are taught, and had to pass in order to receive that degree. So, a PHB who has an MBA who runs a company into the ground does know the consequences about bad company morale, and has no excuse about not knowing what would happen.

            • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

              by Anonymous Coward

              But all that "person to person" stuff is work! and with your inferiors too!
              I really don't care about maximizing their work as I care about minimizing my work.

              PHB ;-p

    • We're in a transitional period of history, IMO (did I mention I'm a historian too?) where the status of employees as resources rather than liabilities is in danger from too many people thinking that better/faster/cheaper can apply to people as well as processes.

      "Resources" can be bad enough for the worker, if management thinks of a resource as something that has to be exploited to the maximum.
      "Liabilities" usually means that the layoff is being prepared (and never mind that the company really needs the employees - many managers seem to go by "fire them first, then ask who is going to do the job in the future").

    • by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Thursday January 07, 2010 @02:11AM (#30679790)
      But in the last couple of decades, this has been a chronic problem in many companies. They have increasingly relied on IT as an essential resource, but have also increasingly devalued it as a commodity (which it is not, of course... I am simply referring to treatment of employees).

      I think in these tighter times, companies need to start re-evaluating which resources are most valuable to their business. And in my opinion, if they do this objectively, they will begin to realize how much value IT adds to their operations. If they don't, this rebellion will simply continue, and they will be SOL.
    • by nmos (25822)

      Its no secret that when the economy goes south, management philosophy becomes much more "conservative" which means that managers revert back to a stragey of cracking the whip to get results rather than more modern philosophies involving team dynamics, encouraging self-regulation by employees, and so forth.

      Something I've been seeing for a while is a trend toward a much more regimented workplace. I don't know whether to blaim the MBAs who seem to think that every aspect of the business can/should be programm

      • by Tim99 (984437)

        Something I've been seeing for a while is a trend toward a much more regimented workplace. I don't know whether to blaim the MBAs who seem to think that every aspect of the business can/should be programmed like a giant robot...

        I suspect that it is all part of capitalism's ideal of making all employees interchangeable parts - This is so that you can plug new ones in when the old ones get stroppy/expensive/or, worst of all, knowledgeable.
        As you say all initiative must be crushed, and every tiny decision must be sent up through the ranks of management - Otherwise the low/middle management drones who impose this crap are amongst the first to get the bullet.

  • ManicMonkey (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 07, 2010 @01:34AM (#30679630)

    Maybe this is due to the dumbing down of people working in IT management in general. Nowadays an untrained monkey can become a CIO after attending a corporate brain washing seminar from Microsoft and learning the industry key buzzwords eg (sharepoint). These "managers" hire people who use buzzwords and the cycle continues.

    • The latest non-iphone-related buzzword seems to be "social media". Want ads everywhere are screaming for people with experience reimplementing FaceBook.
      • And it's been proven the best way to make money if you think Twitter is hot is to make something that makes Twitter better... there's no way you're going build your own networking site and get as much traffic, so siphon off what you can building on top of the existing sites.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        But this has been going on for a few years now.

        Today I would not even look twice at a job offer to create a "social networking" site for somebody unless it were already an existing, viable enterprise. Because if it's not, there is about a 99.9% chance it is somebody who just wants to jump on a bandwagon they don't understand. And that's a job I'll pass by, thank you very much.
  • by syousef (465911) on Thursday January 07, 2010 @01:34AM (#30679632) Journal

    As you get older, your priorities shift. Putting in extra hours is something you do because you have to do it in order to do your job well, not because you are enthusiastic. You have other demands on your time, and other responsibilities such as family. So the fact that the IT boom is long gone, job security is low due to outsourcing, and respect for the industries that pay most is at an all time low means you're not attracting as much new blood.

    There is also a (somewhat well earned by some, unfortunately) pervasive view that IT staff are propeller heads with no business sense or social skills. Most work with absolutes that are either right or wrong that are difficult to describe to the IT layperson (ie most business customers). So a lot of the time when a techie goes the extra mile and comes up with a good solution it is not implemented, or worse they are chastised for wasting their time on it. Again this is even prevalent in the currently depressed economy where decreasing costs and expenses is more important than new innovative ideas in the eyes of many business people. There are only so many times an intelligent person will go that extra mile, get rewarded with a proverbial kick in the teeth, before they learn not to bother.

    If you want innovation, people doing crazy hours and going the extra mile etc, I think we'll need another tech boom - one that doesn't revolve around outsourcing.

    The film "Office Space" is so well known around here because it can be a very accurate picture of the life of a programmer in many companies. Complete with bureaucratic paperwork and outsourcing of jobs. A case of "it's funny because it's true".

    • by BlackSnake112 (912158) on Thursday January 07, 2010 @11:36AM (#30683862)

      So a lot of the time when a techie goes the extra mile and comes up with a good solution it is not implemented, or worse they are chastised for wasting their time on it. Again this is even prevalent in the currently depressed economy where decreasing costs and expenses is more important than new innovative ideas in the eyes of many business people. There are only so many times an intelligent person will go that extra mile, get rewarded with a proverbial kick in the teeth, before they learn not to bother.

      Or worse, the extra mile becomes the expected norm.

      I remember working a lot of long hours (70-80 every week for months on end) to get projects done on time. The marketing people kept on making shorter and shorter time-lines with clients. We were getting projects finished in 3-4 weeks that should have taken 2-3 months. When we were called into a meeting on Tuesday afternoon to explain the new project that was due at 4PM the following Friday (3 days later), the 5 IT people looked at each other and said no way could we get this done. We were told no excuses, the contract was signed. Our getting projects done in totally unreasonable about of time came back to bite us.

  • What... (Score:5, Funny)

    by i58 (886024) on Thursday January 07, 2010 @01:38AM (#30679644)
    You mean a career in IT isn't about reading /. all day? Man, this sucks!
  • by PhantomHarlock (189617) on Thursday January 07, 2010 @01:44AM (#30679664)

    I think people are just waking up to the fact that the actual work is largely just drudgery, after you get past all the hype of being a part of the 'computer age'. I gave up all work associated with sitting a desk all day and changed my direction. And I was doing something ostensibly interesting for a living, computer animation at an A-list production facility. But in the end it was sitting at a computer in a dark room for at least 10 hours a day. After I turned 30 I lost my taste for it. The output was great, the process not fun. I'm much happier doing various tasks in a multi-hatted job in a very interesting field. Syousef has a good point about shifting priorities as you get older, and that's why IT is largely a young person's job. It's something you do to gain experience, then move up or on to something else. We are lucky in America to have that kind of choice, given enough self initiative. If you don't like your job, do something else. As a white collar worker you generally have that choice if you're willing and capable of learning a new skill set.

    • That's a great story. Can you give us any hints as to what you're doing now?

    • Sitting in front of a terminal all day doing graphics is not an "IT" job! Come on, let's get our terms straight. Look it up.

      Being a full-time programmer is also not "IT". IT means being a systems administrator or analyst (or tech). And I should know: I have done both. Even so, I still agree with the sentiment offered. IT is not the most fun or challenging job I have ever had.
      • I have also had roles managing IT for small production companies, before I became an animator full time. It was definitely my least favorite aspect of the job. It's thankless, as many people here will attest. It is important though, and the right type of person can thrive on it.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Whiteox (919863)

        Sitting in front of a terminal all day doing graphics is not an "IT" job! Come on, let's get our terms straight. Look it up.
        Being a full-time programmer is also not "IT". IT means being a systems administrator or analyst (or tech).

        Sort of agree. 'IT' aka Information Technology is an umbrella term originating in the early 1980's covering a swathe of job descriptions and specialities to do with computers and communication.
        A 'computer operator' (pre-1985) would be certainly be classified IT but nowadays anyone operating a computer cannot be called IT. They are just skilled at operating a computer.
        It would be interesting to create a generic non-IT list:

        - webdesign
        - graphics
        - programmer

        all fall into the non-IT classification, but know the

  • by rennerik (1256370) on Thursday January 07, 2010 @01:54AM (#30679704)
    Back maybe a bit more than a decade ago, IT and everything around it (computers in general) were pretty specialized. IT technicians were well-respected almost to an engineering/scientist level. Most were well-versed in their field; they were professional and experts in what they did.

    But nowadays, when people think of computer people, they think of Geek Squad or the neighborhood computer nerd. Just fiddle around with some software and BAM, it works. In fact, it's so "easy" to "do computers" that you can find "Idiot's Guide" books on it, people who aren't really technically savvy going to places like ITT Technical Institute, and end up working with computers in a place like help desk, or maybe in the lower echelons of the IT department... so couple this with the fact that most people don't realize that programming and information technology (especially the higher-level jobs in those departments) are basically engineering-grade/scientist-grade positions, and the fact that the knowledge required to call yourself a "computer person" or "IT technician" is getting less and less... IT people, especially professionals, become less well-respected. Some even get treated poorly by fellow employees. Management tends to treat them as "just tech guys" -- like any other employee -- not really realizing that your data-entry person or secretary might be easily replaceable, but an IT person is a valuable asset because of his/her knowledge and experience. The more they know, the more valuable they are to your company, etc.

    So, being an IT guy ain't what it used to be... at least to the public at large. And I think that lack of respect/not being appreciated for the kind of work that we do/etc is what's causing a disconnect and a need for professionals to become *consultants*. Because, once you bill at several hundred dollars an hour, people start listening to you a lot more, and respecting you significantly better.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by rafaelolg (1248814)
      I really don't think that IT workers are not satisfied because they are underrated. I think IT employees that got enginerering/CS degrees were expecting more exciting and innovative research and development kind of jobs and not to do some scripting using excel or some plain web data-base oriented systems. They are not underrated, they are overeducated.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Eli Gottlieb (917758)

        There's no such thing as overeducated, merely educated enough to qualify for a job better than the one you have. Education is a human good, not a device to get you ready for your job allocated from Your Corporate Lords and Masters. You're thinking of job training.

  • Huh, I wonder why? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Totenglocke (1291680) on Thursday January 07, 2010 @01:58AM (#30679722)

    Job satisfaction is at an all time low in the only skilled career where the employees are routinely treated like crap? Who'd have guessed?!

    That's why I'm planning on changing careers ASAP and am already sending out resumes. I've only been out of college for a few years, but it's more than enough experience in IT to know that I don't want to do it for the rest of my life.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by osgeek (239988)

      Grass is greener on the other side of the fence syndrome.

      Sure, IT people are treated like crap as nerds. But Sales people are treated like crap as aggressive bullshitters. Marketing people are treated like crap as third nipples who waste everyone's time and "don't get it". Field Services people are treated like crap as gophers who have to travel. Finance folks are treated like crap as "bean counters".

      The best solution to being treated like crap isn't to move laterally to another discipline, it's to move

  • Perhaps... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 07, 2010 @01:59AM (#30679734)

    Every year, the news comes out that US workers are some of the most productive, and every year their productivity rises....

    Yet actual wages have stagnated, and even retreated since the 1970s.

    Perhaps the days of a free lunch are over, and companies are gonna have to start compensating people appropriately for their work.

    • Re:Perhaps... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Thursday January 07, 2010 @02:31AM (#30679888)
      If you adjust for real inflation (as opposed to government figures), it is even worse. And unless you were a union member or government employee, there never has been anything like a free lunch in the U.S.

      But you can still be improperly devalued, as IT has been.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by compro01 (777531)

        He was meaning the free lunch on the part of the employers, not the employees.

    • Re:Perhaps... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Thursday January 07, 2010 @02:40AM (#30679922)
      Imagine that you are a sizable corporation that relies heavily on road vehicles. You are likely to have your own automobile mechanics (a whole repair/maintenance department) on salary. And if you have half a brain, you let the mechanics do their jobs... you don't stand over them, arguing about how to tweak a carburetor.

      But if you were a typical sizable corporation over the last decade or so, you also had your own IT department, and thought nothing of demanding the equivalent of a Lamborghini, as of yesterday, for the cost of a Volkswagen... and at the same time paid the IT pro less than your senior mechanics.

      That kind of situation cannot last forever. Sooner or later companies will learn that this is loser behavior.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by plastbox (1577037)

        That kind of situation cannot last forever. Sooner or later companies will learn that this is loser behavior.

        So I hope! I, and most IT guys I know, make less money than your average teacher, secretary or convenience store manager. Imagine if every teacher in the world went on strike for two weeks.. wohoo! Two weeks off from school!

        Now imagine if every person in an IT-related job went on strike for two weeks. The world would end. No shit! People would likely loose electricity, gas and communication (phones, cell, internet). Hospitals are completely dependent on their IT-systems working. Trains, large boats and air

      • Re:Perhaps... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by osgeek (239988) on Thursday January 07, 2010 @08:49AM (#30681656) Homepage Journal

        Where is this that auto mechanics are living the dream? Where is it that auto mechanics are allowed to run free like nobel laureates without oversight because they have all the wisdom and chutzpah to get their jobs done? Television somewhere?

        IT folks are people like any others and their jobs aren't any more difficult than anyone else's in the corporate family. Don't romanticize their roles with enormously biased analogies involving Lamborghinis and Volkswagens.

        Smart companies will push their IT departments, their Sales departments, their Marketing departments, their Finance departments, etc. as hard as they can. Their demands should normally be "stretch" goals because they've got competitors who will put them out of business if they take it easy for too long.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          Who said anything about living a dream? The point was that auto mechanics are usually appreciated for their skills but IT people generally have not been.

          "... their jobs aren't any more difficult than anyone else's..."

          Ha ha ha. You obviously are not in IT.

          I had written a long response to this, explaining how what you wrote there is simply not so... but I have deleted it. If you are really so clueless as to believe that, nothing I could say would change your mind anyway.
  • by poopie (35416) on Thursday January 07, 2010 @02:33AM (#30679894) Journal

    ... and that's in the best interest of the business. The business likes predictable systems and services.

    Most of us slashdotters with low userid numbers can vouch for the fact that a whole lot has changed in the last 12 or so years.

    IT used to be the wild west. UNIX was not widely well understood -- even by software developers. UNIX servers were inaccessible. UNIX servers were big bucks. Linux was obscure. Hardly any computer hardware or software did much of anything out of the box. Sysadmins, consultants, and IT workers were worth their weight in gold -- because that wasn't any other option.

    Now... IT is mature. Hardware is cheap and reliable. Linux is ubiquitous. Linux admin experience is not rare. apt-get or yum can deploy massive amounts of useful, nearly preconfigured software in minutes that would have taken sysadmins WEEKS or MONTHS to build, deploy, patch, etc in the past.

    When I first started in IT, building a server was an *ART*. Each one was unique -- from the hardware to the disk layout to the partitioning, to the OS, to the locally installed software. Building a server was like building a Stradivarius.

    Now, building a server is like stamping a kazoo out of tin. I can make 500 kazoos a day. They're all the same. I don't even need to log into them once.

    In the past, general IT folks were quite often the white hat security experts who learned by doing/experimenting. Now... most companies have security teams an intrusion detection systems that sound alarms if anyone runs nmap on nessus.

    Your average IT guy USED to have endless opportunities to be a hero by introducing opensource software options that almost nobody else in the company knew about. Linux in the mainstream has changed all that.

    A *GOOD* IT worker used to have almost magical abilities to do orders of magnitude more work. Now, large scale admin processes are much more widely understood, there are many more tools, and those magical processes are well documented and demystified so that even the junior IT folks can do them.

    How many IT jobs today involve compliance? How rewarding is compliance-related work? I bet that some of the lack of willingness to suggest process improvements is somehow tied to the process baggage of IT compliance.

    I still like my job, but it's changed a lot. I don't *just* do IT. I add value to my company. Today, IT needs to be much more closely integrated with the business. IT needs to be a business partner. I doubt any businesses today would hire a BOFH.

    • by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Thursday January 07, 2010 @02:49AM (#30679968)
      That is what I was saying earlier. The IT field has matured... but that still doesn't mean it's a commodity, and that's where people (managers and HR, in particular) get confused. The fact that it is ubiquitous does not mean that anybody or their nephew can do it properly. Managing a project is still managing a project, and systems design is still systems design, even if putting together a simple household system is something a high-schooler can do. Anybody can be a backyard auto mechanic, too... but master mechanics still get paid very good money.

      Metaphorically speaking, the real problem is that management has not learned to recognize the difference between a backyard mechanic and a master mechanic.
      • You make a good point. Most management doesn't seem to know a Ferrari from a Pinto - all they know is they want "car." They go shopping, find the cheapest dealer around, buy the cheapest model on the lot, take it home, and then get really really pissed when they find out they don't have a Ferrari in the garage.
      • by poopie (35416) on Thursday January 07, 2010 @03:20AM (#30680050) Journal

        IT is a commodity. Sharp IT managers see that virtualization will bring extremely powerful APIs and with a little bit of workflow and orchestration magic, their needs for the most skilled IT talent will stay the same or reduce as quantity of work increases over time. As much as people in the IT trenches may wish things to not change, change will continue. Fewer people with less skills will be able to manager larger numbers of systems and services.

        Google for just about anything IT related, and you'll find THOUSANDS of hits on how to do it. Step-by-step instructions. Video walkthroughs. Preconfigured VM images. Despite what us IT folks may think -- that's UNUSUAL and somewhat unique for computers and IT. How many people can google "ubuntu ldap kerberos" or "linux drbd mysql" and follow the steps?

        The "master mechanics" become architects and software developers who design "cars" that require fewer visits to the mechanics. They design process that is simple. They implement service menus that look more like a fast food menu. They automate their jobs and move on to more interesting work.

        • by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Thursday January 07, 2010 @04:32AM (#30680298)
          To clarify what I meant: SO WHAT?

          There are also thousands of online resources describing how to be a CEO, and how to be an accountant, and even how to make $14,000 in 3 days.

          Does following those instructions make you an expert? Hell, no.

          You could probably follow those thousands of pages of instructions to assemble a replica Shelby, complete with chrome valve covers and dual stripes, in 6 months or so... but that doesn't make you a mechanic. Nobody would pay you to do it for them, because they could do the same thing.

          But give the parts to a master mechanic, and (to illustrate just one advantage), he or she could probably do the same thing in a week. And do it better. Because they know what they are doing.

          There is an old story, nearly a century old now. There are multiple versions of the story, but there is strong evidence that it was originally about Charles Steinmetz, who, as an early electrical engineer, occasionally did contract work for that up-and-coming company, General Electric. Keep in mind this is early 1900s.

          GE had spent a lot of money designing and building a new, large electrical device. (Generator, motor, HV device, who knows? Doesn't matter.) But their machine didn't work, even after weeks of their best efforts to find out why. So they called in Charles Steinmetz, who had done work for them before. Steinmetz agreed and went to their plant to check it out. He walked around the machine, from time to time putting his ear to the side of it. Finally, he took a piece of chalk out of his pocket and made a big "X" on one of the access panels.

          "Your problem is under there," he said. And he left.

          The GE techs removed the panel and sure enough, they found a defect, and after they fixed it the machine worked as it should.

          But GE management was surprised, about a week later, when the mail contained an invoice from Steinmetz for $10,000.

          Astonished that he would try to charge that much (a lot of money in those days) for what amounted to a few minutes' work, they wrote back to Steinmetz, requesting that he itemize his bill.

          He sent them back an itemized bill, as follows:

          Marking an "X" on the side of a machine: $1.00

          Knowing where to put it: $9,999.00


          Did they pay his bill? Goddamn right they did. He saved them a shitload of money.

          Never underestimate the real value of an expert.
    • by raddan (519638) *

      When I first started in IT, building a server was an *ART*.

      Today, IT needs to be much more closely integrated with the business.

      I'd argue that there's still some excitement (and art) in the latter statement that you make, especially for businesses whose product is information. Where I work (publishing) we have a lot of very talented and creative people, but they don't know squat about using technology to better do their work. I can and do build tools for them to take the monotony out of their own jobs. This requires a lot of thinking, a lot of programming, and it generally makes my job a lot more enjoyable. Now that a lot of pre

    • by Krishnoid (984597) *

      I doubt any businesses today would hire a BOFH.

      Even the BOFH [theregister.co.uk] has ways of keeping up with the times -- it's all about being able to adapt to changing conditions.

  • by CopaceticOpus (965603) on Thursday January 07, 2010 @02:45AM (#30679956)

    You only need to read the summary to see why job satisfaction in IT is so low. They see it as a problem that IT employees are less willing to work long hours for free, but I take this to be a very good sign. It's high time that IT workers stand up for themselves. I understand that the nature of the job may lead to occasional overtime work. But when required overtime is the norm, and it is not even well compensated, that is a sign of mismanagement and/or gross disrespect for employees. No wonder the workers are dissatisfied. (And this is just one of the ways many IT workers are treated poorly.)

    It is really frustrating to me to see so many workers in this field willing to give up their lives for a job. It makes things so much harder for those of us who seek respect and reasonable working conditions. If I can't pay my bills, I don't go to my employer and ask for extra free money. My employer shouldn't be asking me for extra free work week after week because projects were poorly planned.

    • by timmarhy (659436) on Thursday January 07, 2010 @04:54AM (#30680410)
      I'm conflicted by this one. i JUST got handed a letter stating i was getting a raise. $5,000. pretty good in this economy you might say, but at the same time i've pumped out the work of 2 positions (one was retrenched) as well as put in a fair bit of my own time. by managements own admission, i have saved the company over $500,000 last year alone. that's tangible savings not imaged ones.

      so while my input has been recognosied, i was only 2% more then what was handed out to everyone else (even the lowest performers), and a mere 1% of the savings i brough them through my extra skills i brought to the table when the company was in dire straights.

      I'm happy i got something, but it still leaves a sour taste in my mouth when i think of how hard i had to work to get that 2% extra.

  • by Veneratio (935302) on Thursday January 07, 2010 @03:43AM (#30680152)

    I was just discussing this article with my colleague and we agreed this was probably a US-oriented survey. We're Dutch and working in The Netherlands as system engineers, and compared to the US our working conditions are great! On average, we work 40 hour weeks (sometimes less!) and get an average of 24 days paid vacation a year. Overtime is PAID overtime. These conditions apply to pretty much ALL jobs here, not just IT.

    Comparing that to the US, its not strange that Americans are less satisfied. From what I picked up over the years reading articles like the ones on Slashdot, Americans in IT generally work 10+ hours a day, don't even always get overtime paid for and only receive about 5 vacationdays a year. And the pay, even though admittedly living is cheaper there, sucks too.

    Is it any wonder that people are dissatisfied?

    • Yup, fully agree (Score:5, Informative)

      by SmallFurryCreature (593017) on Thursday January 07, 2010 @06:22AM (#30680744) Journal

      Dutch as well, and don't recognize the articles problems at all.

      And living in the US ain't really cheaper. You got to look beyond single prices and look at total expenses. Simply put, American pay less taxes but their medical insurance is more expensive. We pay more taxes but our insurance is cheaper. As a business, you pay fewer taxes in the US, but you got to have very expensive litigation insurance, in Holland taxes are higher, but you can't be sued for millions because someone walked into your glass door.

      The issues become very complex, take housing. housing in the US seems typically cheaper for MORE house, BUT it is in spreadout suburbs with no local provisions. The houses are also typically wood.

      Now that sounds great, but it means greater travelling expenses, the wive can't just pop next door to visit her mother, kids need to be transported by car to their soccer club. Wood needs constant painting. All those extra rooms need furniture, heating, cooling etc etc.

      This living space issue bit Microsoft in the ass with the X-box. To big for Japan where houses are smallest of all. Imagine a 50+ inch tv in most european houses, does it even fit? If you can't use a screen that large, you don't want it, but if you got a huge house in the US, then that screen becomes far more desirable.

      What I seen from trips to the US and working with people from all over the world is that american workers need more, and can afford it because they spend more time with their job which in our eyes might look a bit like you are working to pay for gadgets that you can't enjoy because you are always at work.

      Or as I wrote 2 days ago in a similar story, I had a US co-worker who worked for over a year in holland to pay for a big screen tv in the US... Why?

      But this discussion will never be won. For a settlement to be reached, one side would have to admit that they are wrong and both europeans and americans are far to pigheaded to do that.

      Lets face it, the US is the place things happen and EU is the place the economy hasn't tanked so badly. The american method works for americans, right up to the point that it doesn't. And in the EU, you can get 1000 euro raise, yet get only 300 more in your bank account (Yes really).

    • by Jawn98685 (687784) on Thursday January 07, 2010 @09:09AM (#30681858)
      Yeah, but your country, with it's superior working conditions, health care options, etc. is, is... almost socialist, and on Fox News, they keep telling us that that's bad for us. So, you're saying, we're a bunch of idiots?
  • by Aceticon (140883) on Thursday January 07, 2010 @04:22AM (#30680268)

    The jobs of half of your colleagues have been outsourced to India or replaced with Indian "consultants" in temporary placement, your "time flexibility" is always seen as "you need to work more hours today" never as "you can go home earlier today" and, especially in these times, you know that you can be fired for any reason whatsoever that has nothing to do with your performance.

    Mosty of us working in IT know for sure that the company will not be there for you, so why should you be there for the company above and beyond the call of duty?

    (I do know one or two examples of small companies in which the Directors are close enough to the employees to actually care about them. In big companies, however, you're just another number in the ledger).

    I long ago left "traditional" employement in IT for freelancing: I came to the conclusion that "the company" didn't care when the technology bubble burst when companies started firing the same people that just months before had been working their asses of giving their 110%.

    Everyday when I come to work I'm surprised how so many of my colleagues still settle for getting less that half as much as I do in exchange for the illusion of job safety and a fickle bonus which has little relation to their actual performance (I work in the Finance industry now, bonuses are mostly dependent on the performance of the business unit you work for which pretty much just follows the market for the types of instruments they trade).

  • by Whiteox (919863) <htcstech@gmREDHATail.com minus distro> on Thursday January 07, 2010 @05:08AM (#30680470) Journal

    Stuff working out what's wrong. Format and re-install.... simple.

  • Let me guess why (Score:5, Informative)

    by assertation (1255714) on Thursday January 07, 2010 @08:08AM (#30681288)

    Let me guess why

    1. Bad economy, fear of job loss

    2. Not getting the work that they were hired for. This bait and switch is at its worst with
          programming. Advertise for developers, hire developers, do not give them development work
          and watch the poor attitude grow ( or the worker leave ).

    3. People who don't know better forcing stupid technical decisions on technical people
          who do know better AND without hearing AS WELL AS respecting their professional opinion.

    4. Not getting rewards for extra effort. Doesn't even have to be money, just a sense
          that someone is interested in what you did or at least *appreciates* it beyond a
          cold "thank you".

    5. Knowing that you are not valued, that the moment they can outsource you with someone
          cheaper you will be replaced. Why value a company beyond them being a pay check if
          they don't value you beyond being a cheap enough part in a machine?

    6. As per the other day on slashdot, penny pinching on minor perks

  • by walterbyrd (182728) on Thursday January 07, 2010 @08:45AM (#30681612)

    Occam's razor: off-shore labor is a lot cheaper, therefore employers will off-shore every possible job. If you do your job sitting in front of a computer, then your job can probably be off-shored - if not now, then certainly in the near future.

    Furthermore, the simple laws of supply and demand dictate that the few jobs that are not off-shored, will have a glut of qualified applicants. The experienced developers who have their jobs off-shored, will clearly try to leverage their existing training and experience into the few remaining IT jobs that can not be easily off-shored. This causes a glut, and drives down wages.

    The IT worker glut will be increased even more by improved automation of information system maintenance, standardization of software, and non-IT specialists who are increasingly sophisticated with information technology.

    There can be nothing to stop this devastating trend, due to the following:

    1) Corrupt USA politicians
    2) USA IT workers are not willing to organize
    3) Influential corporations have effectively distorted the issues

    So there you go, it's as simple as that.

    IMO: this trend is presently in it's infancy. The present trend has very little to do with the present economic slump. In fact, when the US economy recovers, this trend will accelerate even faster. The present situation for US IT workers is much better now, than it will be five years from now.

    http://techtoil.org/wiki/doku.php?id=articles:no-brainer [techtoil.org]

  • Um... Salary? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by pyster (670298) on Thursday January 07, 2010 @09:00AM (#30681762)
    I think one thing that is missing is that companies abuse their IT workers. They often pay them salary and them make them work 24-7, and if one complains they retort "be glad you have a job". Some of them are in clear violation of employment laws yet employees feel trapped. So they remain oncall 24-7; even when they are on vacation in states far away. It's hard to give a shit, and fo the extra effort when your employer is basically an abusive slave driver. With most jobs, when you go home, its done, and jobs that require you to be always on compensate you fairly.

    The place I used to work for... I loved the technology. I cared about its quality.Loved my co-workers. In return? Low wages, zero freetime, a douche bag who I'd have to clean up after, broken promises of change/tools/company car... My eye would twitch with the stress... While the sales people would gloat about the new house or car they just bought with the convoluted deal they sold and said 'make this work, and you have 2 days.'... (the new digs are the complete opposite experience.)

    Lots of IT shops are glorified sweatshops.

Riches: A gift from Heaven signifying, "This is my beloved son, in whom I am well pleased." -- John D. Rockefeller, (slander by Ambrose Bierce)

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