How the Great Resignation Is Impacting the Tech Industry
Since the start of the pandemic industries everywhere have experienced a sharp drop in employment. It seems that in some places enticing benefits and salary increases aren’t enough to fill jobs. What’s happening and how will it impact the tech industry?
While the “resignations” have stalled somewhat, staffing shortages remain high. Currently, there are thousands of open jobs in the world of technology and many businesses are struggling to fill them. In this article, we look at how the great resignation is impacting the tech industry, and what it will mean going forward.
A lot went into the “great resignation.” The idea that people didn’t want to work is an oversimplification that doesn’t cut muster when taken in the context of what actually happened. Millions of people indeed left their jobs in a relatively brief period of time.
It’s also true that IT was hit hard. Many people left their jobs. Many more self-report that they are thinking about it. As a result, productivity has stalled, and businesses everywhere are struggling to move forward with their projects.
It’s no secret that the tech world has had its controversies over the years. Intense hours and overly gendered workplace dynamics have shown that cutting-edge tech development might not be so cutting edge when it comes to workplace values.
These underlying problems, coupled with the pressures that Covid-19 produced may well have contributed to the situation we now have—shortages with no obvious solution.
There are other factors to consider as well.
Naturally, safety was one of the reasons that many people left their jobs during the pandemic. Some with preexisting conditions may have opted for remote jobs. While tech does have this capacity, remote work is not universal.
Then there were the older workers. If John Doe in IT was sixty when the pandemic hit, he was left with a difficult choice. Go back to work, where his advanced age puts him at risk, or retire? For many older people working in software and other industries, the decision wasn’t hard.
When young employees don’t want to work in an industry because of its culture, and older employees don’t want to work in an industry because of the risk, a real problem emerges.
Benefits also aren’t what they used to be. Pre-pandemic workplace culture was one of the primary ways that people hunting for jobs made their choices. Companies were offering lax dress codes, snacks, bar carts, and gym memberships as a way to entice new people.
In a world where people can work from their bathrobe and snack as much as they want, these perks don’t really have the appeal they once did. Businesses everywhere are still rethinking what it means to have a “work culture” in the remote environment that we now find ourselves in. Until it gets figured out, however, attracting new employees may be a challenge.
The pandemic also intensified the burnout experience. While many people enjoyed remote work, others haven’t taken to it. Workplace friendships have always been a key driving factor when it comes to job satisfaction. Those are harder now.
The water cooler is gone. Cubicle conversations about the latest episode of the Mandalorian are impossible. Interactions now are limited to what needs to be said in emails. For many, this is a lonely, tiring way to do their jobs.
Couple this with the stress and uncertainty of the pandemic and it’s no wonder that many have found the new workplace norm exhausting and unsustainable.
It’s also worth keeping in mind that turnover begets turnover. There are lots of reasons for this. An employee who is already dissatisfied with aspects of their job may leave because their friend does. Or simply because seeing coworkers strike out in search of better opportunities inspires them to do the same.
Meanwhile, happy employees may start to feel differently as staffing shortages make life more difficult. In departments where three people are doing the work of five, it’s almost inevitable that even people who used to enjoy their jobs might begin to feel burnt out.
While none of the above-listed factors could be described as good, they may lead to change. Tech companies need employees. Many are now changing the way they try to attract them in ways that reflect the current social climate.
Pinterest is a good example of a business that has rethought the way they approach employees. They are now offering better fertility benefits to employees to attract new workers. Not only does this development meet social demands but it can have a significant impact on some people’s lives.
Some businesses are now offering money just for showing up to interviews. At Deutsche Familienversicherung, potential hires can make $500 just for showing up to an interview. If they get through the employee onboarding process (which takes about six months) they are paid another $5500.
Workers now have bargaining power in a way they didn’t before. You can see this just as plainly by taking a drive down Mainstreet. Where once $15 minimum wage was a thorny political issue, it’s now an almost necessary way to bring in employees.
People operating in the tech space are similarly empowered. They can say no to intense development schedules that had previously seen them working unhealthy hours. They can advocate for the benefits that they want.
In other words, they can begin to reshape the industry in a way that is more employee-centric.
Time Provides Context
It’s easy to call the great resignation bad for business. Easier still to say that it is bad for the industries that are being impacted the most. Perhaps difficult is the better word. It’s true that businesses are struggling and that some of these struggles are being passed on to the consumer.
However, in the tech industry at least, positives are making an appearance as well. Better pay, more agreeable working conditions, and stronger bargaining power for employees are potential benefits that may reshape the industry going forward. Only time can provide context.