A survey conducted by IT research firm Gartner earlier this year pinpointed the staffing conundrum facing CIOs today: It's hard to reward and retain key IT staff who weren't laid off from their organizations when there's no money in the IT budget for raises.\nTechnology professionals polled by IT job board Dice.com in July have a clear solution to that problem. When asked what companies could offer in lieu of a salary increase to reward and motivate them, the 431 IT professionals who took the survey indicated that they want their employers to give them a sense of stability in a volatile economy or more flexibility. \n[ More on morale: 6 Ways to Boost Employee Morale, 7 Tips for Keeping IT Employees Upbeat, There's No Quick Fix for Bad Morale ]\nSurvey respondents were asked to choose which one of four reward and recognition options was most important to them: 1) a guarantee of job security, 2) company-funded training and certification classes, 3) flexible work hours or 4) C-level recognition. \nSlightly more than one-third (35 percent) selected job security as their number one choice. Company-funded training and certification classes and flexible work hours ran a close second and third, respectively, with 32 percent and 31 percent of the votes. Few IT professionals care about a high-five from the CIO, it seems. Just two percent of respondents (the suck-ups) said C-level recognition was most important to them. \nDice.com CMO Tom Silver says he wasn't surprised by the survey results. \n"Everyone loves a pat on the back, but relative to the other choices, particularly in a tough market, people are more interested in tangible rewards," he says. \nA guarantee of job security, which will keep food on the table and debt collectors off an IT worker's back, or company-sponsored training demonstrate very clearly a company's commitment to its employees and the employees' value to the company. \nCompany sponsored training, in particular, sends the message to employees that even though the employer can't give them more money via their paychecks, they're at least willing to invest in their employees via training, says Silver. \nTraining may also be the best solution to IT leaders' staffing challenges. Says Silver, "They realize they can not go out and hire more people. Therefore, they have to make the most of the technology professionals they have. Investing in their current employees is by far the most efficient way to go." Follow me on Twitter @meridith.