Forget money, bring on the grub

Money's just part of the formula for attracting and retaining IT staff, according to the head of UK anti-virus software developer Sophos, who has been visiting New Zealand.

Money's just part of the formula for attracting and retaining IT staff, according to the head of UK anti-virus software developer Sophos.

Jan Hruska, who co-founded the Oxford-based company 15 years ago, says it includes two cordon bleu chefs on its payroll of 214 worldwide staff as part of efforts to pamper precious programmers.

"Surveys suggest money is the fourth or fifth priority of programmers when they're looking for a place to work," Hruska says.

First on the list is having interesting projects to work on, and second is good working conditions. At Sophos, that means a subsidised staff cafetaria where the often young, male programmers can find good food.

Hruska, who was in Auckland this week, says recruiting is the company's biggest challenge as it sets out to expand by about 100 employees this year. The openings at Sophos are among 85,000 vacancies in the UK market, he says.

A programmer fresh from a tertiary institution can expect to earn £16,000 to £19,000; those with two years' experience will get from the "mid-20s to late 20s for a hot-shot", Hruska says; and programmers who've been in the job five years might get from £26,000 to £70,000, for outstanding performers.

The average stay for Sophos programmers is 3.2 years, which Hruska claims is "unheard of in the industry".

The company, which had sales in the year to the end of March of £17.8 million, claims 2% of the worldwide anti-virus software market.

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