IT employees' work hours rise 30 percent

By Julekha Dash, Computer World |  Career

IT professionals have spent one-third more hours on the job this year than they did last year, according to a report issued last week by Meta Group Inc.

Analysts and users attributed the rise to time spent learning new technologies and additional work from the increasing threat of new viruses.

"I don't want to say that we're at the dawn of the IT sweatshop, but we're getting there," said Howard Rubin, a research fellow at Stamford, Conn.-based Meta Group.

The study, based on an online survey of approximately 3,000 IT managers and executives, reported that IT spending among U.S. companies increased 8.7 percent this year.

As a result, said Rubin, IT workers are spending more time on the job, earning new technologies in addition to doing their existing work.

But Tom Bachrach, a senior systems engineer at New York-based brokerage firm Salomon Smith Barney Holdings Inc., attributed his longer work hours to more time spent handling computer viruses.

Turnover and salaries rise

Another survey finding was that employee turnover at U.S. companies rose 2 percent from last year.

Bachrach said he thinks some IT workers leave their positions because they get frustrated at companies that are reluctant to use newer technologies.

"Corporations are extremely reluctant to jump on the bandwagon [with] new technology," said Bachrach. That makes it difficult for an IT employee to increase skills and salary, he said.

Salaries for IT professionals rose by 6.6 percent this year, with the greatest increase in networking- and Internet-related areas. That figure is close to the 6.8 percent gain reported by RHI Consulting, an IT staffing firm in Menlo Park, Calif.

In a report released last week, RHI predicted that average starting IT salaries would rise even more next year, by an average of 8.4 percent.

However, the report said, some categories of workers -- such as chief technical officers, e-commerce specialists and business systems analysts -- will see salary increases of 10 to 11 percent. RHI attributed the increase to strong projected IT hiring activity next year.

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