Gap widens between top, bottom IT earners

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There is a widening gap in earning potential for top IT executives and IT workers at an entry level.

This is according to ITWeb`s annual salary survey, the results of which were officially unveiled in Johannesburg today. The survey collected data from over 4 000 respondents to provide insight into local IT work and salary trends.

The average monthly salary reported at the top executive level was over R55 000, while at the staff level it was R18 000.

From a demographic perspective, the survey found that the salary gap between male and female IT employees is narrowing, while the percentage of white males is dropping, albeit slowly.

Most of the respondents (over 80%) have permanent jobs, but it was the contractors who reported the highest salaries across the board. Project management contractors topped the list with a R56 000 average monthly income.

[VIDEO]In terms of the best-paid working fields, business development and project management are the top paying environments, while digital design is the lowest paying on average. A new trend is that IT sales and marketing employees now earn more than technical staff.

The survey found most employees are happy in their current position. Nearly a quarter of respondents said they love their jobs, while a further 44% are fairly satisfied.

One of the most noteworthy trends to emerge this year is the marked change in the underlying reasons behind job satisfaction, says ITWeb editorial director Ranka Jovanovic. "Last year, money was the main driver behind job satisfaction, while this year it has dropped well down on the list.

"The most startling finding is the fact that people now place working from home at the top - above extra leave and health benefits. I think this is because most of our respondents are from Gauteng, where traffic for many has become a nightmare."

My pay, my way

[VIDEO]21st Century Business and Pay Solutions executive chairman Mark Bussin also analysed the survey data, and provided a number of insights.

"Money matters. It`s not just what companies pay, but how they pay, and that is why rewards are becoming such a big thing. Also, in terms of benefits, one size does not fit all. Companies used to set one standard package, but that won`t really work anymore. It`s a case of my pay, my way.

"The majority (82%) of respondents had their salary increases linked to performance, demonstrating the growing trend to tie remuneration more closely to performance."

He identified work flexibility as one of the key trends. "This explains the increase in contracts, which can be up to five years long, especially targeted at the executive level." Other key trends include long-term incentive schemes and rolling incentives.

Bussin says he was surprised to see that age still appears to be a factor in terms of income, "because in today`s world it is all about competency and delivery".

[VIDEO]Meta Group SA organisational development and human capital practice leader Colin Smith says many of the survey findings are similar to those Meta conducted overseas.

Almost all companies now have to pay premiums for their critical staff, and this appears to be an international trend, he says. "In 2003, only 76% of companies reported doing so, but now that is up to 92%."

Staff retention is another area companies are focusing more on. "They are looking at motivating their staff as well. In SA, we are finding a trend of 'golden handcuffs`, or offering deferred bonuses. Stock options is still a definite retention tool locally, but it is just structured in a different way."

According to the survey findings, better career prospects would tempt most IT employees to switch jobs.

The full results report will be published online on 29 April and in the May issue of ITWeb Brainstorm.

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