What makes IT pros happy? One thing ranks higher than pay

Money alone won’t buy happiness in IT

Coworkers can make or break a good job. For IT pros, it’s all about their peers, managers, and end users.

“I tossed out money as a contributor to happiness a long time ago,” said IT pro Michael Studte. “Although my salary, work hours, and vacation time are important to the equation, I’ve been the happiest in companies where management will listen and take my recommendations seriously, and where I’m able to build a good rapport with my users.”

Spiceworks shared Studte’s comments along with results of its latest survey, which polled IT pros from the U.S. and U.K. on the topic of job satisfaction. (Related: 10 reasons to look for a new job)

When it comes to IT pros’ happiness, respondents said the most important factor is the quality of relationships they have with their coworkers. Compensation ranked second, in a tie with stress level.

spiceworks graphic Spiceworks

Spiceworks’ 2017 IT Job Satisfaction report also finds that company size makes a difference.

IT pros who work at small and midsize businesses are happier and less stressed than those who work at larger companies, Spiceworks says. Roughly 55% of IT pros report being happy in enterprises with more than 1,000 employees, compared to 62% in midsize businesses with 100 to 999 employees and 66% in small companies with fewer than 100 employees.

Stress levels follow a similar pattern: 39% of IT pros in enterprises said they’re highly stressed compared to 30% in SMBs.

At the same time, job satisfaction rises with level of responsibility.

More senior positions come with greater stress than more junior IT roles, but they also yield a greater degree of job satisfaction, Spiceworks says. For example, 54% of IT directors report being highly stressed, while only 44% of IT managers, 28% of network administrators, and 21% of help desk technicians reported the same.

Despite reporting the highest levels of stress, 70% of IT directors also indicated they’re happy in their position. Fewer network administrators (64%), help desk technicians (64%), and IT managers (54%) reported being happy in their positions.

“Although IT directors are the most stressed, they might feel their work is more rewarding because they’re often calling the shots and growing the careers of others, which might offset any decline in overall happiness due to stress,” said Peter Tsai, IT analyst at Spiceworks. “Ultimately, it’s clear happiness in IT is driven by a variety of factors and doesn’t hinge on one single variable like stress or money.”

Spiceworks’ survey was conducted in February and included 853 respondents.

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