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Communications of the ACM

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Managing IT Professional Turnover

working holding box of personal items

Credit: Lewis Tse Pui Lung

IT employee turnover is a major concern of CIOs and senior IT managers.32 It has been for many years. The most recent annual Society for Information Management (SIM) survey of IT managers confirms that concern and attempts to get to the bottom of the issue. Since 2014, IT employee turnover has been on the rise—9% in 2014, 8.6% in 2015, 8% in 2016, 7.3% in 2017, and 8.2% in 2018, with 69.9% of those being voluntary. As if that were not troublesome enough, 6.9% of the IT workforce is projected to retire in the next five years.32

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These trends have a direct impact on the bottom line of organizations employing IT professionals. Some managers believe the 'revolving door' of IT adds an estimated 20% to their expected costs. Overall, compensation accounts for 35%–37% of the entire IT budget.32 When an employee leaves a company, it bears the burden of selecting, recruiting, and training a replacement,5 which amounts to up to 150% of the employee's annual salary, considering the time spent to search for, recruit, and interview a replacement.29 Maybe partially reflecting these costs, the percent of IT budget spent on training has accordingly been rising in recent years, standing at a projected 5.9% in 2019, up from 5.1% in 2018 and 2.9% in 2017.32


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