Technology recruitment specialist GCS has published a report offering encouragement and caution regarding the state of the market.

Even though the UK’s technology workforce seems to feel as or more valued than last year, GCS’s ‘What’s Working?’ report suggests the strong possibility of a ‘post-recession reshuffle’ and large numbers of permanent workers leaving their jobs to go into contracting.

The report, based on a survey of 500 technology professionals, indicates that many permanent and contract workers believe the market is improving and that employers are ready to recruit again — 63 per cent expect to recruit new permanent workers within the next year. GCS’s report indicates that there will be plenty of people looking for new jobs by then.

‘Nearly half of permanent workers said their job satisfaction has decreased,’ said Chris Devonshire, head of GCS Technology. ‘They are reporting workload increases and more stress at work than in some time. It’s no wonder the majority of full-time technology employees said they intended to look for a new job in the next year.’

While the prospect of diminishing permanent headcounts seems distinctly unappealing, it may actually have unforeseen benefits — competition for British technical talent could lead to increased investment in the technical sector and help raise standards for workers by encouraging employers to make sure they are offering their staff appropriate salaries and benefits, as well as engaging work.

What can be done to avoid this apparent exodus? ‘Invest in your existing workforce,’ said Devonshire. ‘Our report shows that permanent workers want better benefits and more career progression. Workers who feel properly rewarded for their efforts will be engaged and, therefore, less likely to move on.’

Employers certainly seem to understand the importance of career progression, rating it the most important factor in attraction and retention.

However, provision falls short of perceived importance — 63 per cent of employees feel they lack the opportunity to develop their careers. Conversely, 68 per cent of contractors feel their existing clients do offer career progression.

Even though contractors also reported increased workload, only 28 per cent feel stress levels have increased and 81 per cent say their job satisfaction has stayed the same or increased since last year.

The report also indicates that businesses aren’t offering benefits packages that inspire their permanent workforces. Contributory pension, personal health insurance and life insurance are the most prevalent benefits, yet these are low down on employees’ wish lists. Share options, non-contributory pension and family health cover, the three most desired benefits, are offered sparingly.

‘Decreases in job satisfaction, increases in workload and stress and dissatisfaction with benefits will combine to create an unstable permanent workforce,’ said Devonshire. ‘As soon as any disengaged employees realise their temporary counterparts have more interesting work and are making more money, they will begin to look for new opportunities, most likely within contracting. The key for any employer wishing to avoid this is to make sure your permanent workforce is properly engaged.’

Click here to view the full What’s Working? GCS Technology Report, including commentary on maximising employee engagement. Hard copies can be requested from Daniel Evans (