Two-thirds of IT workers will change jobs this year, despite enjoying the best work/life balance of any industry.

According to a new study, seven out of 10 technology employees are satisfied with their work/life balance, the Hays Salary Guide 2022 found – well ahead of the overall average of 56 per cent – with the industry’s particularly strong embrace of remote work fingered as the most likely cause.

Even as employers wrestle with whether workers should be forced back to the office or whether a hybrid working model is more productive, the Hays survey of more than 9,000 respondents – evenly split between employers and employees – found that just 31 per cent of tech employees “unquestionably” intend to remain with their current employer beyond the 2022-23 fiscal year.

With 83 per cent of employers saying skill shortages are already impacting the effective operation of their company – up from 64 per cent last year – workers are enjoying what Hays Technology regional director Robert Beckley called a “once-in-a-career market” where employees are courting skilled workers with strong salary increases.

“Intense competition for skilled professionals will translate into salary increases this coming financial year,” Beckley explained.

“Previously camouflaged by skilled migration, and further impacted by headcount growth, skills shortages have reached a level unmatched in our years in recruitment,” he continued, “and sparked deliberate salary increases from employers.”

Show them the money

In such a strong market for skilled workers, 63 per cent of employees said they had already benefited from the skills shortage, either through a salary increase, new job, or both.

Indeed, 76 per cent of employers say the skills shortage has forced them to offer higher salaries than they had planned – little surprise since 65 per cent of workers said the skills shortage had made them more confident to ask for a pay rise.

Many employers were struggling to keep up with this surge of confidence: “while both the value and extent of salary increases is rising,” said Beckley, “employees’ expectations are growing faster.”

“In a job-rich, candidate-poor market, they feel more assured of their worth and have prioritised a pay rise – and employers say the skills shortage is the reason increases are higher than planned.”

Yet for all the attraction of better salaries – and the finding that just 37 per cent of employees are satisfied with their current salary – there was a marked disconnect between what employees think they’re worth, and what employers intend to offer them.

While 51 per cent of technology-industry employers plan to award their employees a pay increase of up to three per cent, for example, just 11 per cent of employees feel this reflects their performance.

Employees were more likely to argue for a bigger increase, with 59 per cent of Australian technology workers arguing that their performance merits a pay rise of more than six per cent – but just 14 per cent of employers agreed.

(Can’t get no) job satisfaction

Resolving this disparity will require more than just pointing out that tech-industry workers are more satisfied than those in any other industry.

To guide employers determined to make themselves more attractive to qualified candidates – which Beckley said is the most frequently-asked question that Hays consultants get from their clients – Hays identified several key issues that both attract and repel candidates.

Employees were most likely to leave due to a lack of new challenges, uncompetitive salary, lack of promotional opportunities or a poor management style or workplace culture, the survey found.

Most likely to attract employees were the promise of internal and external training; provision of more than 20 days’ annual leave; and ongoing learning and development opportunities.

These elements are the pillars of “an opportunity to define a new equation in the world of work,” Beckley said.

“Salary increase budgets only extend so far,” he advised, “so consider the full value exchange for each role” including benefits, upskilling, career progression, purpose, and the employer-employee relationship.

Fully 20 per cent of technology employers say they have improved benefits and working practices to attract more staff by standing out in today’s ultra-competitive tech jobs market – where Australian employers are particularly desperate for business analysts, cloud engineers, full stack developers, cybersecurity analysts, and data analysts.

Many employers seem prepared to fail in those efforts, with 48 per cent of employers saying they expected to increase their reliance on temporary and contract workers – who are already earning strong salaries and riding ongoing waves of demand as the pace of digital transformation continues to increase.