Show them the money: Y2K workers rake it in

They are offered bonuses as often as every quarter, matching super plans are expected, and their pay keeps shooting up. For these information technology workers, casual dress is the norm. Who are they? They are the men and women working on the year 2000 problem. A new survey has found IT consulting firms specialising in Y2K work pulling out all the stops to keep valued employees.

They are offered bonuses as often as every quarter, matching super plans are expected, and their pay keeps shooting up. For these information technology workers, casual dress is the norm. Who are they?

They are the men and women working on the year 2000 problem.

A survey by the human resources firm William M. Mercer in New York found that IT consulting firms specialising in year 2000 work are pulling out all the stops to keep valued employees. And "employees" may be the wrong word to describe the people working on the year 2000 problems, the firm said. "Customers" might be a better one, said Mercer consultant David Van De Voort.

"I have seen some beautiful fitness facilities and wonderful cafeterias and eye-popping day-care facilities," Van De Voort said. None of these perks by themselves will retain or attract an IT employee. But in total, they send out a message that the company cares about its employees, he said.

When it comes to money, companies are offering various incentive plans, the study found. Some offer stock in an amount equal to a year's salary to an employee who is still around in the year 2000. Others give lump-sum payments equal a half-year's or year's salary for employees who don't jump ship, Van De Voort said.

But those incentives aren't always enough. Some companies have started offering signing bonuses to convince people to change jobs, and others are granting more-immediate gratification, such as retention bonuses each quarter, he said.

Salaries, on average, range from $US54,300 for a quality-assurance/testing analyst to $121,000 for a project director. Salaries have been rising about 2.6% a quarter, Mercer said.

"You really have to start treating your workforce like your customers" to keep them, Van De Voort said.

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