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Enterprise IT Employees’ Priorities Are Shifting

Those are a couple of the key findings from the soon-to-be-released 2023 No Jitter Career & Salary survey. There’s a wealth of interesting data about salary trends, perspectives on changing jobs, and specific sentiments on hybrid work, and you’ll be able to see and read about that data next week. But for this piece I want to focus on the pair of priorities mentioned above: Job skills and what matters most to you as an employee.

When we asked, “Which of the following business or technical skills are critical to your job?” the top responses were:

  1. Aligning business and technology goals
  2. Collaborating with internal stakeholders
  3. Experimenting with cutting-edge technology
  4. Interacting with customers
  5. Building vendor relationships

Business-technology alignment is new in the top spot for this question. Last year, the order was:

  1. Experimenting with cutting-edge technology
  2. Collaborating with internal stakeholders
  3. Aligning business and technology goals
  4. Interacting with customers
  5. Building vendor relationships

Interestingly, the 2022 survey ran before the release of Chat GPT last November, so respondents would not necessarily have been focusing on AI and any perceived need to get up to speed quickly. And despite AI dominating the conversation for much of 2023, this year’s respondents favored the strategic business objectives—business-technology alignment and collaborating with internal stakeholders—over the need to experiment with cutting-edge technologies.

I should note that this year’s top three answers fall within a 4 percentage point range, so we’re not talking about a seismic shift. Similarly, in 2022, the range for the top three responses was just 2 percentage points. Still, the change is noteworthy in a year when “cutting-edge technologies” have been getting more than their fair share of attention.

Our respondents seem to have a fairly balanced view of the impact AI could have on their careers. On the one hand, when we asked, “Which skills would most benefit your individual advancement and/or salary?” AI knowledge came in first, followed by “leadership skills” and “business skills.” Perhaps our respondents felt they have experience with leadership and business skills, while AI is, for many, a new area of concern.

When we asked, point-blank, “Do you view any of the following technologies as a threat to your job?” AI did rank first in 2023—just as it had in 2022, before the ChatGPT hype took off. And the percentage of respondents choosing AI on this question was almost identical year-over-year: 22.5% last year, 23% this year.

The responses to, “What matters most to you about your job?” were likewise fairly bunched together at the top of the list, but again we did see movement year-over-year. In this year’s survey, here’s how the responses ranked:

  1. Overall work-life balance
  2. Base pay
  3. Benefits
  4. Job/company stability
  5. Flexible work schedule (either working hours or location)

Perhaps this year’s responses reflect a bit more confidence in the overall economy, as this was the order last year:

  1. Job/company stability
  2. Overall work-life balance
  3. Skill development/educational/training opportunity
  4. Base pay
  5. Vacation time/paid time off

Again, we saw a pretty tight range among these responses—five percentage points separate the number one and number five answers this year, and this was a range of just over three points in 2022. One interesting change this year was that “Skill development/educational/training opportunity” fell from third place last year to 19th place this year, behind “vacation time/paid time off,” “challenge of job/responsibility,” and “having the tools and support to do my job well,” among other responses.

So as we move farther away from the pandemic, farther into the world of hybrid work, and (possibly) farther away from the prospect of a serious economic downturn, your peers in enterprise IT/comms roles seem to be responding accordingly: Focusing on career and salary growth within the role, while sticking with the emphasis on work-life balance that so many people learned to prioritize over the past few years. Next week, I’ll share how you can check out the full report, with all the juicy details about salary trends.