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Want to Improve IT Employee Satisfaction?  Move to the Cloud

Posted In Technology Reviews - By Techtiplib on Wednesday, July 16th, 2014 With No Comments »

IT employees - expertYou come in to work, and discover that your email isn’t working. So you call IT.

It’s time to change passwords, but you can’t remember your old one. So you call IT.

The network is down? Call IT. Server slow? You guessed it — IT.

The problem is that most IT departments these days are focused on basic maintenance and security tasks. The number one job of any IT department is to keep the network up and running. Managers expect IT pros, many of whom have a great deal of experience and education, to take care of breakdowns and maintain security, immediately and effectively. The result, in many cases, is an IT staff that feels unchallenged, disengaged and unsatisfied.

The Unhappiest Workers of All?

That sentiment is supported by a recent survey conducted by the Corporate Advisory Board, a Washington, DC-based firm that advises organizations of all sizes on matters related to employee recruitment and retention. According to CEB’s survey, 73 percent of the IT employees surveyed indicated some level of willingness or desire to leave their current position; only 27 percent noted that they were “highly likely” to stay in their current job.

IT employees are less engaged in their jobs than others as well. Only 19 percent of IT workers report going above and beyond the basic requirements of their jobs instead focusing on simply doing what needs to be done. Some experts note that much of this dissatisfaction comes from the monotony of the wok. Most IT departments have little room for creativity or technological advancement. In most cases, the IT staff is so focused on the day-to-day management of networks that they don’t have time for innovation. Instead of developing killer apps that can take the company to the next level, technology pros who spent years studying and developing their skills are reduced to work that’s almost 100 percent maintenance.

IT employees meetingThe result is one of the highest levels of employee attrition (more than half of all companies in one survey indicated that they saw an increase in employee turnover in 2013) of all fields, and a growing sense of dissatisfaction. There’s also a looming talent crisis, as experienced pros leave IT and there aren’t enough engaged employees to take their places. However, there is a solution: the cloud.

Cloud = Creativity

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, IT was largely focused on innovation. IT projects generally had a high return on investment, and staff could devote most of their time to finding solutions to business problems or improving processes, as leadership understood that the investment of time and money would usually pay off in higher profits. In fact, by some estimates, IT spent about 80 percent of their time on development.

Today, though, IT departments spend about 80 percent of their time on maintenance. The growth of cloud services, though, is spurring a shift back toward innovation in IT. Moving functions like email and databases to the public cloud places the burden of maintenance on those providers. SaaS providers are now charged with ensuring that their programs and services work properly, taking that burden off in-house IT. Even making a move to a virtual data center with a managed services provider allows for a shift in responsibility, freeing up IT’s time to devote to projects that are more creative.

Companies that have shifted most of the maintenance functions to the cloud already report that job satisfaction among IT workers has already improved. Instead of spending late nights patching servers or updating security software, workers are moving into more analytical and developmental roles. They are discovering and developing new apps to improve business functions and performance. They are learning new skills that benefit their career in the long run, not simply focusing on increasing uptime and decreasing downtime. In short, the cloud is removing some of the tedium from IT jobs, allowing workers to do the kind of work that they expected to do when they began their studies and decided to enter the field in the first place.

While the cloud doesn’t guarantee 100 percent employee satisfaction in the IT field, it will certainly help reduce some of the attrition that’s setting the stage for a future talent crisis. Some have expressed concern that the cloud could lead to mass layoffs, but the reality is that the cloud has not taken away any jobs, only changed the nature of IT jobs — in most cases, for the better. 

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