ON THE JOB

Survey Shows Mixed Compensation Picture<@VM>Bargaining Employment Terms Makes Job Hunters Uneasy<@VM>ToonUps Teach Business Lessons with a Laugh

Turbulence in the information technology industry is reflected in a new survey of compensation trends at technology firms, which shows executives' annual bonuses shrinking this year while many rank-and-file employees garner healthy pay hikes.

The compensation survey, conducted by New York human resource consulting firm William M. Mercer Inc. for the Information Technology Association of America, found that many nonexecutive employees received moderate to strong increases in base pay and total cash compensation.

For example, median total cash compensation ? base salary plus annual incentives ? for application systems analysis and programming managers jumped from $91,800 in 2000 to $105,100 in 2001, including a $7,400 increase in base salary. This suggested that shortages in specific IT jobs are continuing to drive pay upward for many positions.

"Despite an evaporating upside for some executives, many rank-and-file IT professionals are still seeing a fatter paycheck," said Harris Miller, president of Arlington, Va.-based ITAA. "We would expect that as investors realize the incredible values represented by the IT sector, stock prices will climb and stock options and other incentives will be the tide that once again lifts all boats."

The survey, released Oct. 10, reflects pay data from 69 firms representing 225 geographic locations and more than 56,000 IT employees. The survey examined base pay and incentive levels for 104 jobs in information technology, ranging from top executives to entry-level employees.

According to the survey, median total cash compensation for some executive positions declined from 2000 to 2001. For example, total compensation for chief executive officers declined from $409,600 to $350,000. However, their base salary cut represented only $2,600 of the total $59,600 drop in compensation.Sixty-eight percent of job seekers are not comfortable negotiating the terms of their employment, according to a poll of 663 job seekers and 641 human resource professionals conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management of Alexandria, Va., and CareerJournal.com, the executive career Web site of the Wall Street Journal.

Sixty-seven percent of human resources professionals said they are comfortable with the negotiating process, according to the survey, which was released Oct. 10. Forty-four percent of human resource professionals said they are usually or always a part of the negotiating process, while just 22 percent of job seekers said they negotiate frequently.

Job seekers' lack of negotiating experience may dissuade them from trying, the researchers speculated.

"Many job seekers are understandably nervous about the negotiation process, but it is important that both the candidate and the organization go into it with confidence, and have a clear understanding of what they want and what they are willing to concede," said Helen Drinan, president and chief executive officer of the Society for Human Resource Management. "After all, it is a chance to begin cultivating the professional relationship into one that meets the needs of both the employer and the employee."

The survey found 94 percent of job seekers don't negotiate pay and benefits after termination, 84 percent don't negotiate planned salary reviews, 91 percent don't negotiate retirement plan options, and 90 percent don't think non-compete agreements are important. The Navy, Unisys Corp., Hewlett-Packard Co., NCS Pearson Inc. and Verizon Communications Inc. are some of the companies that have brought workplace lessons to their employees through ToonUps, new animated business cartoons made by MaraStar Communications of Paoli, Pa.

Each one-minute cartoon tells a story about a work-related issue. In an office etiquette cartoon, for example, a manager offers a cup of coffee to a guest on an office tour, only to find the pot is empty. Another reminds workers photocopying yard-sale announcements not to use company resources for personal needs. Other topics include problem solving, handling difficult callers, selling skills and teamwork.

"A lot of online training and e-learning training takes a lot of time and is really dry. We wanted it to be humorous and quick and increase morale and productivity, not just overload workers with quizzes and material," said spokesman Brian Ruhl.

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