The good news: According to a widely disseminated Gartner survey, 62 percent of CEOs believe IT will be a "key element" of their companies' post-recession recovery. That's reflected in the 43 percent of CEOs who say they'll increase IT spending in 2010 and 45 percent who won't make any spending cuts. The bad news: After a year of layoffs and hiring freezes, IT may not have the staff necessary for revenue-generating initiatives.
A Network World article cites a Robert Half Technology survey in which 43 percent of CIOs said their departments were somewhat or very understaffed and would have to stretch to meet current workloads. Wow. If staff are having trouble meeting current needs, what will happen as demands for IT grow? Said Dave Willmer, Robert Half Technology's executive director:
Although businesses may be able to operate with stretched teams in the short term, being perpetually understaffed isn't sustainable and can detract from the overall productivity and morale of the organization.
Low morale isn't exactly uncommon among IT staff. In a recept post about IT attrition concerns, I cited David Foote, CEO of Foote Partners, a provider of IT compensation research, who said retaining IT talent is "a huge problem." Because laying off staff and adding their duties to the jobs of those who remain is more common than pay cuts in IT, Foote said there are "a lot of highly paid but burned-out people."
In a story about how layoffs affect employees whose jobs are spared, IT Business Edge's Susan Hall shared some scary statistics from training and research company Leadership IQ. Three-quarters of workers who survived corporate layoffs said their productivity had decreased, 69 percent said the quality of the company's products or services had declined, 81 percent said customer service had been hurt, and 61 percent believed the layoffs hurt their company's future prospects.
Of course, companies have options other than hiring to meet their staffing needs. They can employ third-party contractors, go offshore or purchase managed services. These options, combined with continued economic uncertainty, are creating a volatile hiring environment in which decisions to hire and fire are "happening in weeks and even days" rather than months, according to a Foote Partners research note. This could come back to bite employers, if skills possessed by dismissed employees return to favor.