Career Insights|5 Minutes
Why Do Employee-First IT Pros Make More Money?
Competition for good employees is fierce.
Nearly all business leaders (95% according to a 2021 Robert Half study) say it’s challenging to find skilled professionals.
So companies must invest in workplace experiences that can attract and retain talent.
Competition for sales and market share is also tough, and that means companies must rely on top-tier talent to thrive in the digital era.
Both dynamics put pressure on CIOs to deliver the technologies and digital tools that make workers as productive as possible and make them feel engaged and enabled. After all, employees don’t want to waste time waiting for apps to open or feel they need to create clumsy work-arounds just to get their jobs done.
Clearly, companies need to invest in providing a positive digital employee experience (DEX) if they want to remain competitive.
New kind of IT team
Delivering that best possible digital experience requires a new kind of IT team – one that includes technologists experienced in this area.
It’s an investment that more organizations are willing to make: Our research shows that executives are paying a premium for professionals with DEX-related skills.
The average salary for DEX professionals in the four countries we surveyed stands at $116,501 – a big bump up from the average annual IT salary in of $80,832 in the United States.
And senior DEX specialists in the United States take home even more, earning $148,045; that’s 83% higher than the average salary for other IT positions.
Our survey also found that some companies are willing to pay even higher salaries for such talent.
Mid-size companies, with 3,000 to 4,999 employees, pay on average $120,819 – about $2,000 more than smaller firms and $12,000 more than larger entities. Companies in certain industries are also more likely to pay higher salaries, with those in business/professional services, IT and tech, financial services and other commercial sectors among the top payors. And organizations with $5 billion to $10 billion in annual revenue come in first for pay, too.
These top-paying companies may be in a sweet spot when it comes to DEX adoption. They tend to be leaders in recognizing the importance of positive employee experiences while also being large enough to invest in the technology and IT talent needed to deliver good user experiences. And they generally aren’t as burdened by legacy systems as larger, older companies are, a scenario that helps them get more immediate returns on their DEX investments.
Specialized skills sought
Overall, though, those higher paychecks reflect both the specialized skills DEX professionals add to IT departments and the value of the improved digital experiences they deliver.
Consider what these DEX professionals bring to their positions.
To start, they’re employee-centric. They know how to approach problems from the employee perspective and consistently make decisions with this perspective in mind.
They’re proactive, searching for technical issues that could become problems and solving them before they impact employees.
Similarly, they’re always looking for ways to improve user experiences; they don’t settle for “good enough.”
And they’re obsessed with quantifying their work. They know how to gather and combine the right technical metrics and employee sentiment measures to understand the experiences they’re delivering, where those experiences work well and where they need to be better.
DEX needed for transformation
Although DEX requires specialized skills, leading IT teams don’t view DEX as a siloed task. In fact, our survey shows that the majority of technologists incorporate employee experience work into their overall responsibilities.
Survey respondents spend an average of 44% of their time on DEX-related work, with only 1 in 5 spending more than 70% of their hours on DEX. About two thirds of respondents spend some 10 to 30 hours on such tasks within a typical work week. Only 1 in 5 staffers spends more than 70% of their time on DEX.
Such figures suggest that DEX is seeping into everything IT teams do, and thus, is becoming part of every IT worker’s collection of responsibilities.
That’s further reflected in how executives now view DEX. Some 96% of survey respondents believe their organization’s leadership team supports DEX at least somewhat and 51% say their leadership completely supports it.
Those figures certainly align with the fact that executives are willing to pay more for those DEX-related skills.
Others have concluded the same.
“These findings correlate with what we’re seeing in the recruitment field; companies want their IT teams to drive digital transformation and create superior digital employee experiences that support employee satisfaction and productivity,” said Martha Heller, CEO of Heller Search Associates, a top IT executive recruiting firm specializing in CIOs, CTOs, and VP-level technology leaders.
Such comments shouldn’t come as a surprise. Leading technologists know that user experience is now a differentiator for both customers and employees, and CIOs and their teams have consistently found that delivering positive experiences to their own internal users is critical. They know, too, delivering good experiences helps those workers be more engaged and more productive and, ultimately, better partners in the digital transformation work needed to remain competitive today.