The recession caused plenty of disruption in the overall U.S. workforce and the IT ranks were not an exception. According to a new survey by the Corporate Executive Board, the percentage of IT employees making "high discretionary effort" plummeted in the first half of 2009 to 4.6%, part of a longer-term downward spiral affecting the entire workforce, not just IT.

In its most recent findings, IT fared worse than average, experiencing declines in discretionary effort starting with 10.5% in the second half of 2007, dropping to 7.4% in the first half of 2008 and actually bumping back up to 8.2% in the second half of that year. In the first half of 2009, the percentage dipped to 6.5.

CEB, a non-profit, Washington-based advisory firm, defines discretionary effort as employee's willingness to go "above and beyond" their basic job responsibilities by helping others with heavy workloads, volunteering for additional duties, and looking for ways to perform their job more effectively. The firm surveys about 150,000 workers each quarter with a series of behavioral questions about their jobs. Of those surveyed, CEB, which counts many Fortune 500 firms among its clients, said about 10,000 work in IT.

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