by Matt Ballantine

I was at an event in London on Thursday last week organised by recruiters Mortimer Spinks at which they unveiled the results of a survey of 650 people working in the technology industry in the UK. The results put some interesting new data into the mix around the ongoing debate about what motivates people, and technology people in particular.

My view, that people aren’t particularly motivated by money, but sure as hell can be demotivated by a lack of it, seems to be borne out by a number of results in the survey: in an analysis of happiness with remuneration versus people planning to leave their role within 12 months or less, 85% who described themselves as unhappy with their current package were looking to move within the next year. It’s not only about money, but as the report’s writers state: “People’s motivation for moving can be caused by multiple reasons, clearly remuneration is one, however we can see that it is by no means an all-encompassing solution when it comes to retaining staff.”

So what does the report suggest might be better levers than just money to keep technical staff on board? The top three reasons given by respondents were:

  • interesting/challenging projects (81% said that was important)
  • being surrounded by good people (74%)
  • open, honest and regular communications within the department (71%)

Pay and rewards did come 4th, with 60% of respondents stating that as important. The other factors that attracted a majority (+50%) of the survey subjects were; a career development programme with good career prospects; flexible working time; and up-to-date software and hardware.

Companies who put a lot of focus on creating great places to work, however, still something to do to win over the hearts and minds of technology folk. Asked their views about the sort of fun or innovative workplace environments promoted by the likes of Google, 42% of the survey thought that they were an important part of a company’s culture, with 20% unsure and 38% thinking that such workspaces were just a gimmick. There might be something generational about that response, though, as as respondents ages got greater, their view of corporate gimmickry got greater.

Probably most worrying for most employers, however, was that the vast majority of people felt that to progress their career, the next step would have to be to a different company. Only 19% of the survey thought that career progression would happen within their existing employer. I wonder the extent to which that has been shaped by nearly four years of economic uncertainty in the UK leading to stagnation of careers in many sectors?

The survey makes for interesting reading, and is available from the Mortimer Spinks website from Thursday 3rd November.


Matt Ballantine is an experienced business technology leader with extensive media and creative industry knowledge. Since April this year he’s been applying that market experience to help Microsoft engage with developers and IT professionals across the UK. Matt feigns an interest in sport by being a Watford fan, and in the arts through tinkering with music (mostly using the Reason software these days).