June 10, 2004 -- Money doesn't buy happiness. At least not for IT workers, according to a study on the state of the information technology industry. The survey by research firm META Group found that, while many companies paid their IT staffers as much as 20 percent more than other employees, 72 percent of those responding said low IT worker morale was a serious issue in their organizations.

"Working through this prolonged recession, which has seen budget cuts across the enterprise, numerous staff cutbacks, and general sector uncertainty," said Maria Schafer, author of META Group's annual IT Staffing and Compensation Guide, "has definitely taken its toll on IT employee morale."

But while dissatisfaction runs rampant, pay has swelled. Of the more than 650 respondents, 76 percent indicated they pay their IT employees higher salaries than non-IT workers. Twenty-four percent of those surveyed said they pay IT workers 20 percent more. Last year, only 7 percent paid such a premium.

The study also found that there is high demand for specific IT skills, particularly Internet-related expertise. Popular among the "help wanted" listings were application development, Java application management and networking. The survey indicated that e-commerce needs were weakening, with only 15 percent indicating a strong need, down from 22 percent in 2003 and 25 percent in 2002.

Many companies are monitoring employee sentiment, if not addressing it, according to the survey. Employee satisfaction surveys were conducted at 68 percent of the companies and 38 percent used performance reviews to get feedback.

Popular strategies to combat malaise were employee recognition and skill development programs, while only 4 percent offered spot monetary incentives.