Memo to CIOs: Keep Your Employees Happy

By Spencer Shaffer

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Improving enterprise performance starts with our employees. Overtaxed employees eventually begin looking for a different job in hopes of a better environment, and all too often, the cycle of stress-burnout-quit repeats itself. By helping employees maintain balance and focus, CIOs can help minimize the impact on their department’s increased responsibilities and improve overall productivity.


With the added demands placed upon IT departments by today’s economic uncertainties, CIOs need to be more vigilant than ever to take measures to prevent their employees from getting burned out. As Ken McGee, VP and Gartner Fellow noted, “at a time when there is little in the way of additional budget available, CIOs need to know where and when to focus to best assist and improve enterprise performance.”


Gartner analysts recently outlined the nine most contentious IT issues at this year’s Gartner Symposium/ITxpo. The No.1 issue analysts wanted to bring to our attention was this: business expectations for IT have out-stripped IT’s internal ability to deliver. Although this doesn’t come as a surprise to most overburdened CIOs and IT staffs, Gartner analysts found this issue to be the most contentious for CIOs; more so than modernizing infrastructure, security management and reducing costs—to name a few.


3 Steps to Happy(er) Employees


Invest in Professional and Personal Growth: Study after study has concluded that employees value an employer who invests in their professional and personal growth more than an inflated paycheck. Companies that use a pay-focused strategy end up with double the staff turnover of those that use a human capital investment approach.


Here at ConsultNet, we’ve seen several of our clients validate these findings when they altered their employee retention approach to include a flexible work schedule. By offering 4/10 workdays (every Friday off) or 9/80 workdays (every other Friday off) they improved employee retention with the added benefit of drawing in potential employees. Bonuses and pay matter too, of course, but not more than an employer that makes work/life balance, career development and security a priority.


Conduct Regular Evaluations: CIOs and other executives need to remember that their employees are people with lives and families. Companies struggling to keep talented employees need to take special measures to ensure their employees avoid burnout. To help avoid this situation, CIOs need to evaluate the work load and attitude of employees to make sure they are not disengaged from their work.


This can start by having regular evaluations. By conducting evaluations, the employee and the employer have a scheduled time to discuss workload, expectations and review any areas of concern. Hopefully the employee will be direct about any changes they would like to see to improve his working situation. In addition, this provides the employer the opportunity to discuss specific ways the company can work on his professional development.


Keep Communication Open: Informal communication is another key to ensuring a positive work environment. An example of this is an “open door” policy, which in essence means that employees are free to talk with any manager at any time. The purpose of open door policies is to encourage open communication, feedback and discussion about any matter of importance to an employee. While some open door policies are more effective than others, it’s a start to developing a path to informal communication between employees and managers to ensure a successful working environment.


Remember, although unemployment rates in many states continue to climb dramatically, the truth is that demand for technology professionals is at an all-time high. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) recently reported that IT unemployment is at a decade low and demand for IT workers is expected to remain strong at least until 2014. This means that special measures have to be taken to keep your employees from seeking employment opportunities in greener pastures.


Investing in employee development programs and working to help employees achieve a work/life balance provides big payoffs for the employer with increased productivity, knowledge, loyalty and contribution. Even though tightening purse strings might tempt you to limit or abolish employee development programs, keep in mind that progress can only result in organizations that foster learning and constant improvement.



A recognized veteran of the technology staffing industry of nearly 15 years, Spencer Shaffer joined ConsultNet in 1998. Spencer has served in many capacities, often simultaneously, from Technical Recruiter, Account Executive and Area Vice President. Spencer currently serves as the President of ConsultNet, directing the day-to-day operations and future growth of the Company.