Frankly Speaking: Best places secret

Either you get it or you don't. That's the open secret about the Best Places to Work in IT. Either you understand that being a great place to work is a competitive business advantage or you still think it's a luxury your company can't afford in a competitive business world.

If you're nodding your head right now, you get it. If you're about to turn the page, hold on. You still have a chance to figure out the secret.

Here's a hint: It's not really about what you do for your IT workers. It's about what they do for the business -- and why.

Chances are, you think the way to create a great place to work is to make your employees happy. You also think the best way to make employees happy is to reward them generously. That means a hefty salary, a good benefits package, maybe profit sharing or even stock options. That can get expensive, but it's necessary if you want to compete for the best IT talent.

In other words, you believe IT workers' satisfaction carries a cost that you'll get some benefit from. That's perfectly logical. But it's a gamble, not a secret to success.

And it's no sure thing. All that cost is just wasted if your IT people can't wait to get out the door at the end of the day. If your IT shop is merely a lucrative place to have a job, not truly a great place to work, that gamble will never pay off.