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July 28, 2021updated 29 Jul 2021 3:48pm

IT teams proved their value in the pandemic, but have they got the recognition they deserve?

The primary frustration for European leaders is a lack of IT team recognition during the pandemic, a new survey reveals.

By Pete Swabey

European IT leaders are proud of the contribution their teams have made in the last 12 months, but many feel they still have not got the recognition they deserve. That is according to a new survey of over 500 IT leaders, conducted on behalf of Pure Storage.

The survey asked respondents to identify what excites and motivates them right now. The most common answers, both with 50% of respondents, were ‘knowing IT has proved its value’ and ‘driving digital transformation/leading change efforts’.

UK IT leaders are especially proud of their contribution during the pandemic, with 87% saying they are satisfied and proud of the progress they made in their role during the last 12 months.

However, the survey also asked IT leaders to identify their sources of frustration. Here, the most common response was a ‘lack of recognition of effort and results from IT team in the last 12 months’, as identified by 43%. UK respondents were particularly frustrated by this, with 51% identifying a lack of recognition as their primary gripe.

This lack of recognition could become a talent retention issue for IT leaders in the coming months, at a time when many are predicting a ‘great resignation’. According to HR research and advisory company Gallup, recognition is a crucial determinant of employee engagement. “Recognition not only boosts individual employee engagement, but it also has been found to increase productivity and loyalty to the company, leading to higher retention,” the company claims.

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IT team recognition during the pandemic

Despite this lack of recognition, the pandemic does appear to have improved IT’s alignment with the business. The average perceived alignment between IT and business has grown from 48% two years ago to 64% today, according to the Pure Storage survey.

CIOs advising Tech Monitor’s recent Technology Leaders Agenda study shared the view that IT-business alignment is an outmoded concept. “The technology leader’s role should have moved past alignment to embedding technology in the business,” said one, which suggests there is still room for improvement.

Covid-19 has left its mark on Europe’s IT departments in other ways. Nine out of ten respondents say agility is now built into strategy plans as a result of the pandemic; 82% are moving to a multi-cloud strategy; and 81% have moved to ‘more flexible consumption models’ for IT in response to the crisis.

Unsurprisingly, the majority of respondents (76%) have re-evaluated their priorities since the pandemic, with 82% saying they have now switched from ‘survival’ to ‘revival’ mode.

For the coming year, accelerating agility (86%), enhancing the digital employee experience for a remote or hybrid working future (82%), and enhancing the digital customer experience (80%) are the new top technology priorities. Priority areas for tech investment are cybersecurity (49%), remote access/mobility (44%) and multi-cloud strategy (43%).

Beyond directly tech-related objectives, IT leaders are also focused on employee mental health (47%), upskilling the IT team (46%) and sustainability (46%). This focus on employee mental health chimes with remarks by Aftab Taylor, CIO for geographies at global property management provider JLL, at the recent Tech Monitor Live virtual forum.

“Coming out of the pandemic, we have realised that the need to collaborate and the need to empathise with our employees is all the more important,” Taylor said. “Keep that at the forefront of everything that you do, because people have gone through a challenging and difficult time, and everyone’s experience has been very, very different,” he advised.

Homepage image by fizkes/Shutterstock.

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