The last few years have been full of ups and downs for the tech industry. First, the Great Resignation came fast and furious, as tech workers, rethinking their priorities amidst the pandemic and emboldened by a hot labor market from Big Tech’s growth push, resigned at record high levels. But, within months, the splurge was over, and it was belt-tightening season: 150,000 jobs cut, including more than 51,000 in November 2022 alone. Then, by December, there were nearly 250,000 tech job openings in the U.S. alone.
Unfortunately, 2023 doesn’t seem to offer more stability. Tech giants and small startups alike have slashed roles by the hundreds, thousands and tens of thousands amid a tumultuous macroeconomic climate and fears of a looming recession. And yet, even with these shifts, the tech unemployment rate remained at just 1.5% in January and there is still greater demand for tech skills than there are layoffs as this industry faces a skills gap. Amidst this rollercoaster, many tech workers, in particular the Great Resigners, entered 2023 with confidence.
Who Are the Great Resigners?
At Cengage Group, we polled workers who participated in the Great Resignation in November 2021 to understand the driving factors behind the phenomenon and its impact.
One year later, we returned to see how they fared and get their thoughts on what comes next. Tech Resigners find themselves in control of their path and setting high expectations for employers to meet. And perhaps there is something to their optimism: in February, the economy added 311,000 jobs, which was above the Dow Jones estimate and a sign that the employment market is still hot.
Let’s look at the survey results to see how the industry dynamics have changed for employees and employers.
Tech Workers Want Challenges
More than a quarter (28%) of Tech Resigners indicated the primary reason for leaving their prior role was because the work was not challenging enough. In finding new employment, only 14% were concerned with the compensation and benefits package, as opposed to 33% who wanted to find a challenging work environment.
Employers should take note that although compensation is not unimportant to prospective employees, they might be more willing to take a job that pays less than the competition but offers more opportunities to step outside their comfort zone and push the boundaries of their expertise.
Growth Opportunities Are Necessary
It’s not just about providing new challenges. It’s also essential to give employees opportunities to learn and grow with the increasingly challenging work. One in four (28%) Tech Resigners said a clear path to growth and development was the number one priority in accepting a new role, twice as important as compensation. Additionally, the majority (74%) of Tech Resigners said having access to employer-paid training and development was a primary factor in accepting a job.
People want to know their employer is invested in their future growth, not just in salary or health benefits. Investing in professional development leaves employees motivated and excited about being part of the organization. It allows employees to work closely together and form bonds while learning new skills. It also has a tangible impact on the bottom line, as better-trained employees are higher performers and less likely to leave and increase turnover costs.
Upskilling To Stay Ahead of The Curve
Over three-quarters of Tech Resigners (77%) took advantage of online training courses to gain an edge over their competition in the job market. They’re more likely (77%) to seek employers offering upskilling opportunities than Resigners in other industries, such as healthcare and education (64%). Ahead of a possible recession, 82% of tech workers intend to use online courses to broaden their skills and become more marketable in a downturn.
Tech workers are curious and looking for opportunities to grow. Technology changes fast, so workers must continually reskill to keep pace. Digital transformation is not a gradual process; it will leave organizations and their employees behind.
Tech Craves Fresh Faces
Tech workers don’t seem to have a greater fear of recession than other industries, despite recent layoffs, in part because tech workers possess in-demand specialized skills. However, there is another reason: 54% of Resigners came to tech from a different industry and many are invested in the industry now. One in five would seek another role in tech if fired from their current job. Employers must consider that there is more talent to choose from than those in the current tech industry. Just as employees are looking for opportunities to expand outside the box, employers can bring fresh perspectives and new insights by widening the hiring net.
Cengage CTO, Jim Chilton, framed the tech talent situation in a recent blog post: “While the technology talent landscape might be changing, the need for tech workers continues to grow exponentially, even if where that tech talent is needed might be different. For employers, this means they need to continue to focus on tactics to attract and retain top talent. And for talent, it means they need to consider their priorities, look outside the box for new opportunities and continue to expand their skillset to stay competitive in the market.”
Explore the full findings in our “Where Are They Now? The Great Resigners, One Year Later” report, which serves as a sequel to our 2021 Great Resigners Report by exposing the real motivations behind the Great Resignation and providing an update on Great Resigners’ new careers and overall job satisfaction.