Job Satisfaction in the ICT Sector—A Global Perspective
Job satisfaction is among the most difficult concepts to define in the field of organizational behavior. Various definitions and means of measurement have been developed; however, there is no one specific definition that has been used to directly describe the concept. Job satisfaction has been defined as:
An affective state resulting from fulfillment of a need or removal of a tension that is caused by a need in the job context (Dunnettee, 1976).
The collection of attitudes that
have about their jobs (Johns, 1988).
A collection of related job attitudes that can be
to various job aspects (Hellriegel, 1998).
Job satisfaction can be defined as the feeling a worker has about his job. Johns classifies job satisfaction into two major aspects: facet and overall satisfaction. With respect to facet satisfaction
to employees tendency to be more or less satisfied with various facets of the job (Johns, 1988). Facet satisfaction affects a person's attitude towards his job. Research suggests that the most relevant attitudes toward jobs are contained in a small
of facets including the work itself, pay, promotions, recognition, and benefits, working conditions, supervisions,
and organizational policy (Johns, 1988). As for overall satisfaction, it is the overall combined indicator of a person's attitude towards his or her job, weighing out the various facets (Johns, 1998). It is an average of the attitudes held towards various facets of the job. Johns (1998) states that two workers may express the same level of overall satisfaction. However, they may have different attitudes towards separate facets that offset each other overall.
Various theories have been developed to explain job satisfaction. These studied include Maslow's need hierarchy theory, Alderfer's need theory (existence-relatedness-growth theory, reinforcement theory, expectancy theory, goal setting theory and the equity theory. Each of these
a different model in understanding motivation and job satisfaction, relating to job aspects from different perspectives. Job satisfaction
across industries and sectors. Such a concept also applies in the world of information and communication technology. Battey (2000) states that ICT employees must feel satisfied with their jobs or they are out the door. Additionally, in today's environment, where demand for network professionals far outstrips supply, resulting in an escalation of salaries, there is sometimes no substitute for adequate and competitive
rewards (Blum, 2000). Job satisfaction in the technology field is
linked to the establishment's stake in keeping on the forefront of technological development, thus a stake in exposing its employees to the same. Without such interest, organizations will quickly lose grip on new happenings and drag its employees into obsolescence, which will result in lower compensation for employees and thus, dissatisfaction (Blum, 2000).
An example of facet satisfaction could be reflected in loving the work, although hating the working conditions or being interested in the job but feeling that the pay is bad.
Job Satisfaction in the ICT Market
A survey of 1,500 chief information officers (CIOs) in 21
, conducted by Deloitte and Touche Consulting
, showed that ICT managers throughout the world are experiencing a difficult combination of unprecedented demand for ICT workers and high
rates (Mitchell et al., 1997). The US Department of Commerce - Office of Technology Policy has also stated in a published report that the shortage of ICT workers is not only within the borders of the United States. Various other studies document a worldwide shortage of ICT workers. According to a survey conducted by the Indianapolis Business Journal, almost all ICT professionals ranked the shortage of skilled technical talent as the top problem
the industry (Pletz, 1998). Due to the tight labor market, Battey (2000) emphasizes that high-tech talent in the information and communication fields should be retained. With the increasing importance of ICT professionals, failure to meet demand for ICT professionals could have severe consequences for the economy's
, growth and job creation. Evidence used to
the emerging shortage first focuses on the upward pressure on salaries. There has been a recognized substantial salary increase in ICT
with the competition for skilled labor. Based on a compensation survey
for the Information Technology Association of America (ITAA), by William M. Mercer, the average hourly compensation for computer network professionals rose by approximately 20 percent from 1995 to 1996, while Deloitte and Touche Consulting Group revealed a 7.4 percent increase in salaries from 1996 to 1997 (Mitchell et al., 1997).
In an online survey (with 941 respondents) conducted by Computerworld, the majority proved to be happy and loyal to their companies. However, they felt undervalued by their
, receive little communication on how they can contribute and are overworked (Ouellette, 2000). Besides a positive perception of jobs, job satisfaction involves several factors that directly and indirectly influence it; such factors include
and moral motivators, perception of supervisors, and working conditions. There is no one theory that examines all the different factors affecting job satisfaction. Locke's (1976)
review of the literature indicates that the most important factors
job satisfaction are: mentally challenging work, equitable rewards, supportive working conditions and supportive colleagues (Robbins, 1989).
Mentally challenging work implies that
prefer jobs where they can use their skills and
offer a variety of
, freedom and received feedback on how well they are performing. Little challenge at work creates boredom while too much challenge creates frustration and feelings of failure; however, moderate challenge creates maximum satisfaction (Robbins, 1989). Hellriegel (1998) refers to these job aspects as Growth-Need Strength, which is the degree to which an individual desires the opportunity for self-direction, learning and personal accomplishments at work. In a report published by IT World (2001), pay (within the ICT industry) is not a key motivating factor as long as it
to industry standards, the important issue is how challenging their job is and how much room there is to grow and learn, which was indicated by 718 respondents representing 48 percent of the total response.
Equitable rewards and fair pay relative to work performed are necessary for satisfaction. When individuals perceive the fair pay systems and promotion policies in line with their expectations and worth, the job demands, and individual skill levels, satisfaction is likely to result. Pay is not
measured by the absolute amount one is paid; instead, it is the perception of fairness (Robbins, 1989). It should also be noted that not all people demand high pay. Some workers are
willing to accept less physically demanding work, fewer working hours, or less responsibility for lower pay (Johns, 1988). In a Computer World's Survey, respondents linked recognition to performance (Ouellette, 1999). Blum (2000)
that more than 50 percent of the respondents are satisfied with their salaries however 33 percent are dissatisfied. When looking at equitable rewards, less than 50 percent of the respondents stated that they are satisfied with the relation between their salaries and their performance. In an article published by Info World (1999), the author mentioned that compensation could be used as a benchmark for value; however, it remains as one piece of the puzzle when it comes to job satisfaction and staff motivation. The literature indicates that compensation is ranked as the top priority by only 29 percent of the respondents (
World, 1999). Natarjan (2000) argues that many ICT employees join jobs even at low salaries, considering it an opportunity to update their knowledge and to be used to their own advantage. Respectively, job satisfaction has different
for people in the ICT sector adding some parameters such as salary, perks, stock options, profit-sharing, work atmosphere, promotions, supervision, nature of work have different rankings for ICT employees.
Supportive working conditions exist when individuals have a work environment that creates personal
and facilitates doing a good job (Robbins, 1989). Supportive colleagues are more of an intangible achievement whereby individuals fill their need for social interaction at work. Having friendly and supportive co-workers leads to increased job satisfaction. In addition, the supervisor's behavior is an essential part of a worker's satisfaction (Robbins, 1989). Results of Lucent NetworkCare survey show that 88 percent of respondents are satisfied with their relationship with
and 77 percent are satisfied with the relationships with their supervisors. Respondents claimed that the most important element in their job satisfaction is the degree to which management shows its interests in the
and well being of their employees (Blum, 2000).
Table 1 shows the results of a number of ICT professionals' job satisfaction surveys including Computer World 2000 Job Satisfaction Survey; 2000 InfoWorld Compensation Survey; 2001 ITPRC Poll and Lucent NetworkCare' network professionals 2000 job satisfaction survey. The outcome shows that respondents ranked job aspects by importance including training, advancement and growth opportunities as critical factors in the satisfaction of ICT professionals. Additionally, equitable rewards such as salaries and bonuses are also essential job aspects.
Ranking of job aspects by importance
Ranking of Job Aspect by Highest Importance
n = 941
(The ITPRC Poll, 2001)
n = 271
Training and opportunity to learn new skills
Opportunity for advancement
Type of work
Formal ICT training
Type of work
Access to new technologies
Opportunity for advancement
Flexible work schedules
There is strong evidence that high job satisfaction is associated with lower turnover, reduced absenteeism, and more positive work-
acts, whereas dissatisfaction often leads to various negative attitudes such as absenteeism, turnover and lower job performance, which negatively affect organizations (Lincoln and Kalleberg, 1990). The Harvard Business Review reports that a 5 percent increase in retention results in a 10 percent decrease in cost and an increase in productivity
from 25 percent to 65 percent (Albuquerque, 1999). Robbins (1989) states that employees' dissatisfaction can be
in a number of ways including employees can quit, complain, be insubordinate, steal organizational property or shirk a part of their job responsibilities. These expressions are grouped into four responses that
from one another along two dimensions: constructiveness or destructiveness and activity or passivity. The literature
that employee turnover in the ICT sector varies. For example, the 2000 Lucent NetworkCare survey shows that 59 percent of the respondents have been with their current employer for less than two
, thus showing a high turnover rate and reflecting the high level of demand (Blum, 2000). Moreover, based on the results of Computer World's Survey, approximately 89 percent of respondents indicated that they were not willing to leave their jobs (Ouellette, 2000).
Blum (2000) stated that by providing training and non-monetary awards, firms could spell the difference between losing talented people and maintaining a stable workforce. The best weapon against rapid turnover is to increase job satisfaction using strategies that can mollify the need to
for network professionals solely on monetary terms (Blum, 2000). In further explaining the high turnover rates, as a general trend, Maister (1997) states that it is no longer unethical, or even unusual, for young professionals to move between firms to advance their careers: in all professions, the mobility of individuals is on the rise.
In the case of Egypt, Elamrani (2000) states that despite high demand for ICT employees, ICT companies still need to deal with a human resources issue. Recruitment experts argue that the international shortage of human resources in the ICT sector should force local salaries to become more competitive. In
, human resources managers of ICT companies are already struggling to maintain ICT professionals on their payrolls and the level of employee turnover in most companies' ranges from one and a half to two years (Elamrani, 2000). The information technology revolution in the West is growing at a very high pace, and demand is too high, further encouraging the migration of Egyptian employees. According to an article published in the
in August 2000, Western Europe and Japan are short of 60,000 and 200,000 ICT professionals respectively (Elamrani, 2000). In the case of the US, the shortage is 175,0000 ICT professionals. In the case of Egypt, it is believed that the high ICT turnover should not be difficult to
down, and enticing ICT specialists to stay at home should not be difficult because the cost of creating ICT jobs in Egypt is relatively low (costing US$20,000, versus US$250,000 in the US). By creating the jobs, ICT specialists in Egypt would have more job security, and thus would not seek opportunities abroad (Elamrani, 2000).
During the last 20 years, Egypt has
rapid improvements in its ICT sector, with vast developments and investments taking place in its communications and information infrastructure. The government of Egypt has become a major
of ICT, and intends to further expand public sector demand and use of ICT services. Moreover, the growth of the private sector has been characterized by the establishment of a significant number of start-ups as well as the entry of several multinational high tech companies, either as representative offices, branches or even through project participations with both the public and private sectors. Statistics published by the US-Egypt Presidents' Council in 2000
a 32 percent growth in the ICT market in Egypt over the past five years (www.us-egypt.org, 2000). The sector's growing importance has driven up demand for ICT professionals. Currently, the ICT labor market employs a total workforce of around 5000 professionals (www.mcit.gov.eg, 2001). The distribution of these employees is assumed to be 2000 professionals employed in multinational firms such as Microsoft, IBM, and Oracle among others, 2000 in the local software development firms and 1000 in supporting firms that provide training and consulting in the sector (Information Technology Landscape, 2000). Market requirements forecast that an additional 5,000 ICT professionals are needed every year for at least 10 years to be able to sustain the growing local demand.
Numerous efforts have been allocated to develop the human capital required to meet growing industry needs. Kamel (1997) stated that the increasing role of human resources in ICT received focal attention in 1985, with nation-wide efforts adopted through establishments of several training and professional development institutions governed by the Cabinet of Egypt, Information and Decision Support Center (IDSC). Kamel further indicated that these development efforts have resulted in training over 50,000 individuals during the period 1986–1989 and that more was expected in the years to follow. In addition to these national developments, multinational firms have also highly invested in human capital during the past couple of years (Hamroush and El Sineity, 2000). Despite the increasing competitiveness of the ICT labor market in Egypt, the market has been witnessing the global brain drain
, whereby ICT employees have been seeking better job opportunities abroad for various reasons such as higher pay, better career paths and better
to further develop their skills. Countries including the US, Canada and Germany have recently facilitated and encouraged the immigration of ICT professionals through newly introduced
policies. Moreover, employee turnover has been significant among local employers, whereby attractive and competitive job offerings have been moving employees around from one company to another. In order to reduce the loss of highly skilled labor and minimize the risks and costs associated with high employee turnover, it is essential to understand the elements contributing to the employees' satisfaction and identify the forces that drive them to seek opportunities abroad. This would enable ICT organizations to better meet their staffing requirements and retain their most