If it seems unusually quiet around the office these days, it might not just be because more people are working from home. Tech workers are leaving companies in droves, tempted by shiny new job offers, the allure of working for themselves, or in some cases because, well… everyone else is doing it! (#FOMO)
According to a recent survey, 72% of tech workers are considering quitting their jobs in the next 12 months (compared with 55% of the general US workforce).
Sure, people are always leaving jobs. But in 2021, we saw significant movement in the workforce, with 4.3 million Americans quitting their jobs in August alone. This shift is being called ‘The Great Resignation’, and it’s set to continue into 2022 with tech being among the most highly impacted industries.
In this article we’ll explore why it’s happening, what it means for women in tech, and what to do if you’re feeling an itch to leave your tech job.
Tech workers have finally got some leverage
Companies laid workers off during the pandemic, and some people left of their own accord due to burnout, family commitments, or a host of other complicated reasons.
But now that the economy is opening back up, there are more jobs that need filling than there are applicants. For the first time, tech companies need skilled workers more than applicants need jobs.
This is causing an increase in tech wages across the board, as well as other incentives such as equity share offers from startups struggling to secure talent. With the future being highly reliant on tech skills, it sure is an exciting time to be looking for a role in the industry.
Workplaces need to accommodate workers’ needs
Increasing wages (which have remained largely stagnant for decades) is just one way that organizations are responding, but a vital one. Offering above-average remuneration will help organizations hire and retain quality tech talent.
Professional growth opportunities
41% of workers who plan to leave their jobs cite limited career progression as a core reason for the move, and 9 in 10 want more learning and development opportunities from their employer. Organizations should be engaging staff by providing opportunities to upskill and progress their careers.
Positive workplace culture
Tech companies and startups have long been known for promoting a ‘fun’ culture, with draw cards like ping pong tables, casual attire and office drinks. But the pandemic has uncovered the emptiness of these gestures. It’s become obvious that tech workers need more than ping pong and beer to be happy at work – particularly when working in the office isn’t possible.
Workplace culture needs to incorporate measures to protect employee wellbeing, allow for caring duties, and avoid burnout – particularly in tech, where mental health took a nosedive due to the pandemic.
Some are calling The Great Resignation ‘The Great Reconsideration’, stressing that people have taken time during the pandemic to reassess how their careers align with their values and purpose in life.
Companies need to consider how they’re engaging employees in their vision, so they’re excited to show up and be a part of it.
Creating opportunities for women, BIPOC, and disabled communities to engage in meaningful work and access leadership opportunities is a vital consideration for workplaces of the future.
Diverse teams are more productive and satisfied at work, leading to greater efficiency and retention.
Some people are getting caught up in it
The Great Resignation is, in some cases, creating a snowball effect. The more we talk about it, the more people are intrigued by it. The more people leave their jobs, the more others are inspired to do the same.
But it’s important to note that resigning or looking for new opportunities isn’t solving everyone’s problems.
- Rash decisions – People leaving good jobs as a direct result of how their workplace or manager handled the pandemic, or for a ‘change of scenery’ after lockdowns. Down the track, these people may realize they didn’t think it through properly.
- Resignation privilege – Some people are simply unable to leave their job due to a lack of support or finances. The push to ‘resign and find something better’ isn’t helpful for the single parent working three jobs to support their kids.
- Gender parity moving backwards – The Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that working women have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic and have left the workforce more than men have as a result. PwC suggests this mass exodus is returning women’s progress in the workplace to 2017 levels – a step backwards for gender equality in the tech industry, with less female representation at all levels.
- The people left behind – A survey by the Society of Human Resource Management found that 52% of those who chose to stay at their jobs said they’ve taken on more responsibilities because of resignations.
So while there is merit in using this shift in work to find better opportunities, not everyone will benefit from jumping on the bandwagon.
Should you stay or should you go?
If you’re tempted to leave your job this year, it’s important to identify if now is the right time for you, or if you’re purely being swept up in the narrative of The Great Resignation.
Here are our suggestions on how to work out if you’re ready to leave or not.
Explore what’s not working for you
Are you bored? Overworked? Underpaid? Do you want more flexibility? More responsibility? Better training? Are you supported? Do you like your colleagues? Does your boss treat you well? Are you doing work that aligns with your values?
There are a myriad of questions you can ask yourself to get to the bottom of any dissatisfaction with your current role. In some cases, talking to your manager or doing some extra training outside of work might help solve your issues.
But if you’re simply in a toxic workplace that undervalues you or displays unfair bias, it might be time to leave.
Have transparent conversations
One of the best things you can do to improve your job satisfaction immediately is to have a conversation with your boss or HR. Articulate your needs, and have open conversations about how to find a healthy balance between your personal needs, and the organization’s needs.
Consider what quitting really looks like
Think about how you’d feel if you didn’t have to show up to your job on Monday morning.
Does it make you feel relieved and happy? Or when you imagine it, do you actually feel a bit sad, disappointed or anxious? Visualizing this may help you understand what you really want to do.
Talk to your career advisors
It can be so useful to talk through challenges with a mentor or career advisor to get an outside perspective. They may be able to give you suggestions on how to handle situations, or ideas on what your next career move should be – whether it’s striving for a promotion, staying put for now, or leaving for greener pastures.
Think big picture
Try to think beyond ‘right now’. Maybe you’re longing for a change after lockdowns, or perhaps you’re desperate to be rid of a certain annoying client or project. But as with any season in life, tough periods in your career often pass. Working through any present discomfort may lead to better work outcomes down the track.
(That’s certainly not to say you should endure toxic, abusive or unfair work practices.)
The Great Resignation may be adding unnecessary pressure to make changes in your work life. It might be a much-needed push in the right direction for some women in tech. But for others, it might be unhelpful. Whichever it is for you, we encourage you to go your own way, embrace your unique career journey, and tune out whatever doesn’t help you.
If you’re curious about what jobs are out there for talented women in tech right now, check out our Jobs Board.