Recession has been good for IT sector, say a fifth of staff

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A fifth of the UK's IT and technology professionals feel that change brought on by the economic downturn has had a positive impact on the sector, according to Randstad Technologies, the specialist recruiter.

The survey of 2,000 UK staff examining attitudes to change in the workplace, revealed that tech staff are some of the most positive in the UK when it comes to the impact of the recession. Only 16% of the wider UK workforce believe change brought on by the economic downturn has had a positive impact compared to 19% of those working in IT.

Mike Beresford, managing director of Randstad Technologies, said: "The recession forced many companies to look at where costs could be saved, processes could be streamlined and teams could be managed more effectively.

"Trimming the fat may have meant increased workloads and targets for those left behind. But these changes have helped staff get used to working within a leaner environment, giving them better experience and a more honed skill set than they might have developed had more staff been around to share the workload. In short, professionals say they have gained more fulfilling careers. Indeed, previous research of ours shows that 47% of professionals say a heavier workload over the course of the recession has benefited their career in some way.

"Now the UK is in recovery mode, businesses are reaping the benefits of those changes."

The most significant changes being felt within the IT and technology industry over the last six years have been to do with workload and team sizes. Over a third (34%) of IT staff feel that changes to their targets and workload have had the greatest impact over the recession. This is closely followed by the impact of having to work within smaller teams as a result in changes to hiring policy (32%).

Table 1. Percentage of workers who believe change as a result of the recession has had a positive impact on their industry (by sector)

Sector Positive Impact
FMCG 42%
Manufacturing 31%
Financial services 27%
Accountancy 24%
Pharma & Life Sciences 21%
Property 20%
Wholesale 20%
IT & Telecoms 19%
Construction 19%
Leisure & Hospitality 19%
UK Workforce 16%
Customer services 14%
Education 9%
Nursing 9%
Engineering 7%
Social care 7%
Utilities, Oil & Gas 7%
Public sector – other 7%
Retail and fashion 6%

But, nearly three fifths of tech professionals (57%) feel that change in the industry could have been implemented more successfully. This is much higher than the wider UK workforce, 48% of whom said change could have been implemented more effectively in their own industry.

Mike Beresford, said: "It is often best to act quickly when a need for change has been identified and then communicate the process to employees in order to gain cooperation and engagement. Despite an increase in the workloads and pressure being felt by IT professionals throughout the recession, it's clear many businesses got their communication strategies right and that has led to a significant number of those in the industry viewing change in a positive way. However, with so many in the industry saying implementation of change could have been done better, clearly there are still lessons to be learnt."

More work to be done

Nearly a third (31%) of IT professionals feel their industry is now significantly different compared to before the economic downturn – marginally below the 32% of the wider UK workforce who feel the same about their own industry. Nearly half of IT staff (45%) believes more change is necessary for the sector to improve. One in three (31%) believe only slightly more change is required while one in seven (14%) feel significantly more change is necessary.

Mike Beresford, said: "The IT and technology sector is one of the most dynamic and fast moving industries on the planet. Technology is constantly reshaping the way companies do business and this was even more prevalent over the course of the downturn. And some of today's most influential and valuable technology companies like Facebook saw their growth surge during the recession. As a result, tech staff are far more used to handling change than many other industries and it's extremely encouraging to see that so many employees are keen for further change to be implemented in order for the sector to continue striding forward."

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