Reconsidering 'The Great Resignation'
Every morning, LinkedIn reminds me about The Great Resignation.
Any of us who have been using the platform for a few years have seen it. The increasing number of photos of old employee badges where someone talks about their last day at company A, B or C - and their plan to start a new position elsewhere. Or skipping the badge photo and going straight to announcing and celebrating their career/job change.
It’s having an impact everywhere, even here at Tech Soft 3D, where we’ve been fortunate in that our turnover rate is still less than half of the industry average but are seeing our historic turnover rates increase a bit.
Admittedly, the trend of people leaving jobs is hitting some industries much harder than it is impacting the software industry and the reasons people are leaving are varied and complex.
From what I have seen (and from talking with others in our industry) the primary reasons we are seeing this turnover in the software industry include:
The complete career re-think. The COVID pandemic and lock-down has caused people to re-think how they spend their lives and they’re seeking more alignment between what matters most to them and the things they do to make a living. Sometimes it’s a wholesale industry change like moving from being a software developer to working in the non-profit section.
The Search for Meaning. More often than a full industry change is that people are looking to work someplace that matches their values, that is making a positive impact in the world and where they can align with the company’s mission, vision & values.
An itching desire for a change. Any change. There’s an itch that people have borne out of a general feeling of dissatisfaction which is one of the negative impacts from the isolation COVID has caused. People often can’t put their finger on the true cause of their feeling of dissatisfaction, but sometimes they begin to think that if they changed jobs that feeling will go away (though it probably won’t).
Disconnection. One of the strong ‘bonding agents’ that keeps someone at a company are the personal relationships they have with colleagues whom they see every day. Through this, they’re also connected to the company as a collection of those people whom they know and like. When they’re not spending time with people every day the anchoring effect of friendly work relations becomes weaker. By extension, the connection to the company become weaker too. People start to feel more like paid mercenaries than part of a true team and in that case, their openness to moving to a new company increases significantly.
Money. Reports are mixed on this. Some companies are reporting that people are leaving for the reasons above rather than for an increased salary. Others are reporting that people are leaving for more money since salaries, particularly for technical roles, are on the rise. I’m sure this is true, but I suspect the other non-monetary factors outlined above are what creates the openness to consider other jobs in the first place. It’s almost always been true that if someone wants to find a higher-paying job, they can - but if they are happy where they are, they often don’t look. However, once the bonds are loosened, then people are more likely to chase the money.
Like with most challenges, I feel compelled to ask myself whether there might be some hidden opportunities/upsides in all of this. Surely there will be. Any challenge create a potential opportunity and the ones that I see here include:
Recruiting. We’ve never had an easier time quickly finding strong talent to fill positions. I think that’s for a few reasons. First, since we have now learned to work remotely, we’re open to hiring people anywhere, so the potential talent pool just grew immensely. Second, people are much more open to moving jobs than they have been in the past - so there are more people looking. Third, we fortunately have a good reputation as an employer so when people look at glassdoor, for example, they are encouraged about the kind of place this is.
Balance. There has been something of a power-shift between employers and employees. Companies know that their team members are ready and willing to leave if they’re not treated well. I think that’s great. If you’re reading this, you might be a manager but you’re also an employee too. If companies feel pressure to do a better job of making themselves an attractive place to work, that will have a net positive impact on the world – both in term of employee satisfaction (net happiness) and company performance via sustainable productivity from their team.
Fit. With all this migration, people are searching for the best fit between themselves and the companies they work for. When the dust settles on all of this change, more people than ever before will find themselves working for companies that are the best fit for them. That too is a win-win.
My final point here is about competition. As we know, everything in business happens in the context of competition. To succeed, we must out-perform our competition in one or more ways.
Given the current dynamics, the ‘being a great place to work’ has become an even more important competitive factor than ever before. That means that companies that really, truly care about treating people well and developing them in their careers will have an even more pronounced advantage. They will attract the best people that will help them grow. Those people will stay longer, adding more and more value as their experience increases. If your competitors do a worse job attracting, developing and retaining people you’ll have a significant advantage. That’s always been the case, but within the mix of competitive factors, this one just shot up in importance.
Given the great new people we have been able to attract over the past year, I’m excited because I see great opportunities for the companies that truly understand how to create a great place to work and how to attract people with matching values.