View Full Version : IT Turnover

04-29-2008, 05:36 PM
I don't know if anyone else reads The Daily WTF, but there's an interesting article posted there:

Disclaimer: I don't work in IT/software development and don't have plans to

I really didn't like what the article said. Personally, I don't want to just accept that I'll have to move from job to job for the rest of my life (and not working in IT, maybe I won't ;) ) It also seems to me that the problem with companies might not be that they are looking for long-term employees when they should be planning for their employees to quit.

If the "best" employees are quitting, I find it hard to believe it's because they like searching for new jobs all the time. They really can't "self-actualize" at one company? It seems to that at a company that is actually making progress in some respect, the employees can do the same.


Mario F.
04-29-2008, 06:01 PM
Wow... never before have I been shown my mediocrity with a graph.

I too find the article odd, to say the least. This is really not my field. Never worked on IT, having concentrated all my career on software development centric companies. However, it's conceivable that some people quit their jobs because they don't get enough juice of their current one. But I don't think that is a trend worth an article about it. Everywhere I've been, from Canada to Australia. I've witnessed the opposite; the mediocre are quickly dispatched or moved to less important roles.

Also, In Australia, Portugal or Spain (to name 3 countries I've had similar experiences) unemployment rates of 10% or higher on the this field really don't give much room for anyone being picky about their jobs.

04-30-2008, 07:17 AM
I would guess the solution is to go to school for a long time, and then make like a 30-year career the standard tenure. Nothing like starting your everyday job at 32. By the time of the next turnover, everybody's happy, 'cause you've had a full career, and maybe, just maybe, the computer science department in colleges in universities won't stay so nonproductive. At least nonproductive in the sense that employers won't have to tell college grads to "forget everything they learned in class." Time to bust out the books people, you're learning the STL and how to hack together different APIs right away.


Mario F.
04-30-2008, 07:56 AM
Quiet interesting thought, citizen. It's been a recent acquired knowledge over here that these days a Bachelor's degree - on about any field not just computer related courses - just doesn't cut it any more when it comes to find a job. Students are starting to be encouraged to get at the very minimum a master's degree, preferably a doctorate.

Unfortunately few do. But the numbers are impressive with undergraduate and postgraduate unemployment rates being an impressive chunk of the whole unemployed population.

04-30-2008, 09:50 AM
Staying with one company is nice, but they simply don't reward loyalty. If the work doesn't remain really interesting, and the training slackens off then take that as a warning sign.

The last thing you need is to be in the 40-50 age bracket with a load of out of date skills having just been made redundant from the company you've been loyal to for the last 20 years. Your loyalty won't mean squat to them if they need to get rid of people.

Even if you don't want to move, going for a few interviews every so often will keep your current employer honest w.r.t salaries, and you'll know just how good your skills are in the market place should the worst happen where you are.

04-30-2008, 10:17 AM
They don't take into account the balmer curve.

04-30-2008, 04:40 PM
>Staying with one company is nice, but they simply don't reward loyalty.

So do you think companies should be rewarding loyalty? I can certainly understand that, from an employee's perspective, it might be good to be prepared to find a new job. On the other hand, I'm not convinced that employers should be planning to get rid of good employees on a regular basis.

"At some point, the cost of retaining – be it through salary increases, motivational programs, or creating a Neverland with free food, free toys, and exuberant goof-off time – exceeds the cost of turnover"

See, all those things are nice, but they don't address the "self-actualization" problem. I'm also wondering if part of the problem is that there are so many inept workers, that the really talented ones are constantly trying to get away from them.

Also, just consider what he says about these magical graphs that he presents (for which there is really only anecdotal evidence): "After stretching, there’s only two ways to further optimize the value apex: by accelerating the value-growth curve and terminating it as close to the as the apex as possible." This just seems idiotic to me, but maybe he just didn't think very carefully about the statement. If you terminate them at the apex, especially for a graph like that, then you're not getting the most value out of the employee, because a better measure is the area under the graph. (Think about taking the left half of his "value apex" graph and take twice the area of that, compared with the total area of the original graph--if you're constantly training new workers, you're probably getting less value out of them)

04-30-2008, 05:35 PM
The idea of staying with one company for a lifetime seems hideously boring. I dont think the article was so much about the having to deal with inept workers, but that by staying in a position where you find no new challenges and simply repeat the same stuff over an over means that you wont progress in life skills-wise. It may not be that a company dosent want workers to be able to self actualize whatever, they just focus one thing as a way to make money and thats it. Business is a fun killer.

Mario F.
04-30-2008, 06:08 PM
If the company problem is not being able to retain skilled employees, then the company business mimics the mediocre employees, in that it makes no effort to innovate or present new challenges. It seems to me natural that the company employees reflect the company business.

There is no magical formulas to "get the most out of skilled workers" in a stale environment (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_principle) that accepts the loss of its skilled workers as natural. All the effort and investment in that field is better saved or directed towards innovation. Whatever graphs should have been presented they should have focused on skilled workers quit rates compared to the company business output.

It's an interesting thing that you say that what matters is what is under the graph. Didn't think of that before. Quite right. But they are indeed magic graphs, in that it is very difficult, if not impossible, to draw that graph and translate it into an actual figure. There is simply no way to know when a worker has reached its "apex". Not in advance, and not until much later. Seems an exercise is futility.

What is possible however is to look at worker's motivation levels and their reasons and build a strategy from there. If there is one thing the author is right is that people will quit (not just skilled workers as he likes to think). The reasons behind these workforce flows is what should interest the company. Not how to make the most of them while they are around. That is a sure sign the company doesn't want to solve the problem.

04-30-2008, 08:31 PM
I'm glad someone agrees with me :) I read through a bunch of the comments on the article and I was a bit dismayed that almost all of them agreed with it.

05-01-2008, 08:26 AM
IT is going the way of cheap labor now. My current client outsources a lot of work to terrible under-skilled workers, saving money on the front end, but hemmorraging support and training and babysitting costs on the back end, where's it's apparently not as visible. These chickens will come home to roost in the years to come, as software projects and systems fail with more regularity than they do today.

05-01-2008, 11:20 AM
You can find it both ways. In my opinion a small company with a creative product can be both fulfilling and long-term.

The problem is not the industry, it's the personalities working them. Most IT developers are Type-A creative types who don't hold still and are always looking for the next thing. If that's not you it's someone above you. Either way the story ends with you looking for new work every few months. But there are those exceptions and those yield the long term IT jobs. If you're the right match you could be there forever.