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The Great Resignation within the tech sector

The Great Resignation has hit all sectors. Employees across all industries are increasingly leaving their jobs due to a combination of unsatisfactory salaries, lack of flexibility and recognition, limited work progression, as well as failure by their employers to offer remote or hybrid working.

And the tech sector is no different. While there has always been a skills shortage of IT workers, the same factors that have magnified the Great Resignation have sent shock waves through the tech industry. And more IT worker resignations are on the horizon, with only 29% of IT workers interested in staying in their current roles, according to findings from Gartner.

Tech professionals demand the same benefits as their peers in other industries, and given the way the post-pandemic labour market looks, they are likely to get them. After all, roles in the areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) can be notoriously difficult to fill.

At the start of March 2022, there were 2.5 million open cybersecurity jobs globally, according to Microsoft. This demonstrates that the demand for specialist tech skills has never been higher.

If employers want to source quality tech talent, they should look into the factors that are causing the Great Resignation. That means they should compensate tech workers fairly for their services. However, tech workers don’t always stay in the role for the money.

How can companies retain IT workers?

There are plenty of stories of companies implementing back-to-the-office policies only to face mass resignations and have to reverse course. As IT employees are more likely to leave, are in greater demand and are more adept at remote working than other company employees, CIOs may need to advocate for more flexibility for their departments.

Companies employing tech teams need to acknowledge the risk of losing talent to competitors who offer more appealing job benefits, such as remote or hybrid work. Data shows that more flexible and human-centric work policies can reduce attrition and increase performance. A 2021 Gartner survey found that 65% of IT employees said that whether they can work flexibly will impact their decision to stay at the organisation.

For the most part, HR departments and Senior Leadership Teams are rethinking outdated assumptions about work that are unnecessarily limiting, including:

  • The working week. More companies are empowering their employees to decide when they do their best work and some are pioneering new schemes such as the four-day week.
  • The office location. The Covid-19 lockdowns shattered the myth that employees can only be productive in the office where managers can see them. Many businesses are adopting the hybrid model where employees can be fully productive remotely and the office is used for human connection and collaborative working.
  • Traditional meetings for decision making are now being replaced by tools that enable distributed decision-making, collaboration and creativity.

Where companies haven’t adopted this new and flexible way of working, it is up to CIOs and IT Directors to champion this.

With more companies offering either remote or hybrid working, tech workers are not as geologically locked in as they once were and neither are their salaries. On the flip side, this means that hiring managers can also access talent in new markets where they haven’t looked before.

Like all other workers, IT workers crave meaningful work. The Harvard Business Review reported that more than nine in ten employees would be willing to earn less money for the opportunity to do more meaningful work – showing that a person’s purpose is also important to them.

Candidate attraction

Given the challenges of finding tech talent, companies are also encouraged to diversify their pipeline. For instance, they could consider upskilling people already working within the business but who don’t have much tech experience or recruiting apprentices and graduates.

However, research from Finsbury Glover Hering suggests that Generation Z believes they may be too old to enter the tech sector. 2,400 people between the ages of 16 and 24 were surveyed in countries including the UK. They found that between 46% and 51% believed that, since they didn’t study the right subjects, they cannot enter the IT sector.

In this candidate-driven tech recruitment market, the power lies with the candidates and companies have to do more than offer an attractive salary to attract the best tech candidates. And where a Friday afternoon drinks fridge and ping-pong table may have been an attractive benefit before, other factors come into play.  To attract tech candidates and retain existing IT employees, employers need to think outside the traditional benefits box.

By Gordon Willmott

Director of IT & Change at Meraki Talent

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