IT Skills Crisis Drives Tech Salaries Up, Companies Struggle to Retain Talent, Says Harvey Nash Survey

October 10, 2015

Salary is now no. 1 primary motivator for changing jobs; work/life balance bumped to no. 2 spot

London – November 10, 2015 – Four in 10 high tech workers were headhunted into a new job this year on much higher pay, according to the fourth annual Harvey Nash Technology Survey. Respondents listed a good salary as their main motivator (77 percent) behind the switch, up 16 percent from last year and pushing work/life balance out of the no. 1 spot. Almost four in 10 IT employees (37 percent) received 10 or more calls from headhunters during the past year, while 62 percent of software developers and 55 percent of all software engineers reported 10 or more approaches from recruiters.

Globally, 53 percent of technology hiring managers reported skills shortages in 2015, up from 51 percent the previous year. The long-term IT skills shortage has led technology companies, both large and small, to drive pay and incentives up with hopes of recruiting and retaining this scarce and highly sought-after tech talent. This approach has had some effect: the proportion of IT workers who expect their next role to be with their current employer has risen from 22 percent in 2013 to 27 percent this year. However, that means almost three quarters (73 percent) believe the only way to progress their career is to leave their current employer.

The three top motivators for staying in a job are: pay (selected by 77 percent of respondents), followed by work/life balance (72 percent) and then opportunities to work on innovative projects (69 percent).

The report shares findings from nearly 3,000 technology professionals from more than 30 countries, and reveals that the traditional technology career path, even compared to five years ago, is being rewritten as there are far greater opportunities for flexible employment, alluring entrepreneurial projects and opportunities for advancement.

Albert Ellis, CEO Harvey Nash Group said:

“For many companies, attracting and retaining high tech staff has become their number one concern. Whilst work/life balance is clearly a factor, what this report shows is how important pay and working on ground breaking digital projects have now become as motivators for changing jobs.

We see the impact of this with larger companies citing so-called unfair advantages being given to hugely successful digital start-ups like Uber and Airbnb. The reality is that highly talented technology talent aspire to work for start-ups, recognised disruptors and challenger brands, so rhetoric like this is self-defeating. What traditional organisations need to do is urgently formulate positive strategies to compete effectively with the digital insurgents. That includes re-thinking their pay and employment proposition to the pool of high tech talent.”

Additional key findings of the Harvey Nash Technology Survey 2016 include:

Tech Sector Demographics

  • More than 1 in 10 work in an all-male environment.
  • Nearly 6 in 10 work in divisions where less than 20 percent of the workforce is female.
  • Three in 10 technology professionals are immigrants.

Innovation and Security

  • Over half (55 percent) believe their country’s position as a high tech innovator will advance during the next five years; however, almost half of all technologists also worry that over-regulation will stifle innovation.
  • Only five percent of technology professionals think the risk of security attacks is falling.
  • 56 percent of respondents reported being personally hacked last year (up from 52 percent in 2014); only 39 percent report their company being hacked over the last 12 months.

About the Survey
2,959 technology professionals from 30 countries participated in the Harvey Nash Technology Survey 2016: Are You Ready? The survey was conducted between July 14, 2015 and October 26, 2015. A wide range of technology professionals contributed, including software engineers (10 percent), technology project managers (10 percent) and developers (seven percent), and c-level technology leaders (nine percent). A significant proportion of respondents were from the United Kingdom, United States, Switzerland and Australia, and across the European Union. For more information about the survey, an infographic of the key results and to access a full copy of the results, please visit or email

About Harvey Nash
Established in 1988, Harvey Nash has helped over half the world’s leading companies recruit, source and manage the highly skilled talent they need to succeed in an increasingly competitive, global and technology driven world. With over 7,000 experts in more than 40 offices across Europe, Asia and the USA, we have the reach and resources of a global organisation, whilst fostering a culture of innovation and agility that empowers our people across the world to respond to constantly changing client needs. We work with clients, both large and small, to deliver a portfolio of services: executive search, professional recruitment and offshore services.

To learn more, please visit

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