Tech workers unhappy despite wage and hiring boom

In many ways it’s a boom like no other. Tech workers in Santa Clara County are seeing their wages grow more than twice as fast as the wages of all other employees in the region. The surge in tech hiring has made Santa Clara County the strongest job market in the nation, and the San Francisco-San Mateo area the fifth-strongest.

Yet not all is well in the tech sector, according to a new study that details widespread unhappiness among technology employees.

The employee survey site Tiny Pulse found five major areas of discontent on the part of tech workers.

An unhappy work experience, feeling trapped, thankless work, a disconnect with the company and poor relationships with co-workers were the areas of greatest dissatisfaction that tech workers cited in the survey of employees.

This is the information age, the survey noted. This means that some of the most valuable employees in any workforce are information technology workers.

“We need tech employees to be invested and inspired at work, to have a workplace that fosters employee engagement and sparks the creativity they need to develop our technologies,” according to a blog on the Tiny Pulse site. “Unfortunately, they’re telling us the exact opposite is true.”

Seattle-based Tiny Pulse surveyed 5,000 tech workers, including software engineers, developers, and anyone involved in the tech infrastructure at their workplace, and compared their assessment of their employment situations with an analysis provided by people working in non-tech areas such as marketing and finance.

“It was clear that there’s a significant disparity between the two groups, with tech employees falling behind on several areas of job satisfaction,” Tiny Pulse reported.

Among the key findings: only 19 percent of the tech workers surveyed said they were happy on the job; just 36 percent of tech workers say they see a clear promotion and career path, compared with 50 percent for non-tech employees; only 17 percent of tech workers say they feel valued at work; only 28 percent of tech workers know their company’s vision, compared with 43 percent for non-tech employees; just 47 percent of tech workers say they have a good relationship with their co-workers, compared with 56 percent for non-tech employees.

Perhaps proving that money is far from everything, wages for technology workers in Santa Clara County are 6.5 percent higher than a year ago, whereas wages for all workers in the South Bay area up just 2.7 percent.

And Santa Clara County  is the national leader in employment growth, with a 5.5 percent more total jobs compared to a year ago, according to a U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics survey of major metro areas in the United States.

What’s more, the South Bay has a huge lead over the No. 2 region, Tacoma-Lakewood in Washington state, up 4.7 percent. The Salt Lake City region was No. 3, up 4.4 percent, the Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford area of Florida was up 4.3 percent, and the San Francisco-San Mateo region  had a 4.2 percent gain in job growth during the year.

“The roadblocks are holding information technology employees back from doing their best work,” Tiny Pulse reported.

These problems could have broad implications for the nation’s economy overall.

“This isn’t just bad news for the tech industry, it hurts everyone whose work relies on their innovation,” Tiny Pulse said.


Photo credit: BANG staff file photo


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  • Makikiguy

    Can’t make everybody happy.

    • hoapres

      If you are a laid off American after training your H1B replacement then you are unhappy.

  • Samuel Hain

    Most tech jobs go to legal IMMIGRANTS. These companies seldom hire Americans.

    THAT is why so many US tech workers are unhappy.

    • hoapres

      Called “H1B infestation”

  • hoapres

    I don’t see the wage increase.
    If anything wages are going down or at best steady.

  • hoapres

    How about increasing housing costs ??
    You can’t get Americans to live 12+ in a 1BR apartment so you bring in H1Bs.

  • Samuel Hain

    Since when does a nation of 1/ 3 BILLION need ANY more immigrants??

  • Bobby Edwardz

    So, this report confirms that the stuff in the New York Times about Amazon is TRUE. I work in tech and I’ve seen discontent grow steadily over the years with the same complaints as the other articles. How to solve it? I don’t know. As for me, I don’t like to work for crappy companies. I read Glassdoor for my next job(s) and I make sure I know what is going on at that scene before I take the jobs. Other than that, it’s all about the paycheck. I doubt if I will get to stay at a company more than three years; less than that if my boss is a dick.

  • Frank N

    This looks like a journalistic opportunity. Is H1B infiltration a real problem or a smokescreen? Is there genuine discontent? Is it widespread? How does the perception of employees of Google and the like differ? Is it just some startups badly managed?

    Recent developments like at-will employment, portable pensions, healthcare not exclusively tied to employers, and of course the Internet and social media, have all made changing employers a much more practical choice. Do our best people feel trapped? Or do they have the general sense that greener grass is available and easy to find? Pensions are less of a form of golden handcuffs. How about stock options?

    • hoapres

      H1B infestation is rampant.

    • hoapres

      H1B infestation is rampant.

  • Andrew Kim

    What a joke. These tech people are paid very well by most standard. And they want job satisfaction? If they’re unhappy then go look for company that will offer what you seek. Otherwise, be happy that you earn enough to buy material things that non-tech workers can only dream of.

    • tokyo121

      There is nothing wrong with wanting a great paycheck and wanting to be happy at your job at the same time. The biggest problem is with the tech industry expanding so rapidly and so exponentially, companies are pushing their workers harder and harder. Most tech work isn’t as physical as working in say a foundry. But the equivalent mental strain and hours many workers are putting in in order to meet company goals come out to be along the same lines if not harsher. Tech workers have become drones in a corporate environment. Granted, not all companies are the same. It won’t change any time soon.

      Always remember, it doesn’t really how much money you make if you’re not happy with what you do or who you do it for.

  • Bc Davis

    are leaving Silicon Valley and California in general mostly because they can’t afford to stay there. With the median price for a Silicon Valley home exceeding $1 million and rents north of 2K per month. Many workers even if well paid must spend 70% of their pay for housing cost. Paying that much of ones check for marginal overpriced housing is not likely to figure into job satisfaction.The only ones who do not are those (often H1B from other countries ) who are willing to have 10- 15 minimum wage earning people sharing a 2 bedroom apt. Section 8 or other rent subsidized folks are the only other group who can afford to live there anymore aside from the top level techies really high paid techies at FB, Google, Yahoo, etc.

    • hoapres

      If it were not for H1Bs “The American livelihood deprivation program” then Silicon Valley companies would have to start relocating OUT of the Bay Area which brings housing prices back down to earth.
      Also, high tech companies are beginning to “shackle” their employees with electronic monitoring. If you stay away too long then you are zapped back to your cubicle.

    • hoapres

      If it were not for H1Bs “The American livelihood deprivation program” then Silicon Valley companies would have to start relocating OUT of the Bay Area which brings housing prices back down to earth.
      Also, high tech companies are beginning to “shackle” their employees with electronic monitoring. If you stay away too long then you are zapped back to your cubicle.


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  • Anonymous

    From some of my past experiences in Silicon Valley, the moment I was nice or kinder to my coworkers, within days or a couple of weeks he will start bullying or backstabbing me. So how can I be nice to anybody. I have found many of them to be just wolves, to come to this place to make some money and not care about the product they make, and not care about the world.