Great developer resignation: How to prevent the big IT job crisis
April 13, 2022
min read

Great developer resignation: How to prevent the big IT job crisis

Barbara Oberrauter-Zabransky
Barbara Oberrauter-Zabransky

You have probably been reading that the United States is currently experiencing the biggest wave of layoffs since the global financial crisis in 2008 – with more than 6.9 million layoffs while having more than 10.9 million open positions at the same time. In the media, the phenomenon is referred to as “The Great Resignation.”

It’s being said that developers are at the forefront of the great job revolution - and that made us think about the companies in Austria. Do they have to fear a wave of layoffs in tech? And how can HR leaders counteract such a talent crisis?

Is there a great resignation in the IT industry?

In Europe, we can’t speak of the Great Resignation's full impact yet, but recruiters and entrepreneurs are increasingly feeling the change in the labor market. The healthcare and IT sectors, in particular, are complaining about a historic shortage of skilled workers. For example, Germany currently lacks around 100,000 IT specialists, while Austria is one of the negative frontrunners in the EU with 24,000 unfilled ICT jobs.

Software development still is one of the most sought-after positions – in the United States, it’s even considered a leader of the “Big Quits.” However, this doesn’t mean that developers leave their professional field entirely. Most of them just want to change their job because they are dissatisfied with their current position and think they can find something better elsewhere.

Developers have been ready for a job change for quite some time

It’s right to wonder what’s the cause of dissatisfaction among software developers and why are they now taking action?

As early as 2019, our Developer Report 2019 showed that two-thirds of developers could imagine changing their jobs. Many of these passive candidates had been dissatisfied for a long time but weren’t actively looking for a job. Then the pandemic came in 2020 and suddenly remote work became possible across the board, placing many companies under pressure to develop or accelerate digitization strategies.

IT experts and software developers are in demand more than ever, but the gap between supply and demand grows. This is heating the ongoing ‘War for Talents’ between companies and software developers constantly bombarded with job offers. Meanwhile, employers struggle to keep their employees (i.e., by just raising their wages). In conclusion, software developers are currently in an excellent negotiating position.

great resignation tech recruiting

Between software developers aged 30 to 45, we notice a trend where they turn their backs on being fully employed to become self-employed. This is partly due to the triumph of cloud computing and crowdfunding projects, which favor financing startups.

In addition, an increase in a remote working environment in the tech industry even before pandemics start plays a major role. Last but not least, the software industry is moving more and more towards low-code or no-code solutions, which will require experienced developers as team leaders.

Why more and more IT professionals are quitting their jobs

Usually, a mixture of different factors that have accumulated over a period of time contributes to forming a reason to quit:

  1. Inappropriate salary: According to many surveys, the opportunity for a higher salary still is the most important reason for changing jobs.
  2. Lack of flexibility and work-life balance: Almost as relevant as salary, the possibility to make working hours suit your productivity and preferred location by yourself or within a team.
  3. Criticism of tech stack and equipment: Many developers have tried for years to dissuade their company from outdated technologies and programming languages. Additionally, too slow or simply missing devices add to the overall frustration.
  4. Bad corporate culture and management style: Little autonomy at work processes, high workload with little appreciation or lack of it, or bad workplace relationships contribute to this.
  5. From being overwhelmed to burnout: According to a study by Haystack, 83% of software developers have experienced burnout since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. The main factors are high workload and increased absenteeism among employees.
  6. Lack of job prospects and further training: Developers need to acquire new skills and be up to date with the latest knowledge in an industry comparison. If your own company doesn’t support this and the opportunities for advancement are also unclear, it increases willingness for job changes.

Here's what companies can do about the Great Resignation crisis

Finding and training newly qualified developers is costly and time-consuming. Now is the right moment to detect existing dissatisfaction and reconsider your HR strategy.

The best thing to do is ask your existing IT team about their hiring process experience and what could be improved. IT team members should be the first point of contact when forming the correct formulation of job descriptions and suitable channels for the advertisement or communication. It is generally more effective to use IT team members, to reach out to fellow developers and convince the passive candidates why their skillset and character fit a particular company.

To establish relationships with potential applicants, authentic communication of your employer's brand and corporate culture is fundamental. Not only interesting projects and successes, but above all, an employee-centered structure and culture should be visible and noticeable on all your channels. Underline factors that are important to developers - such as flexible working models, innovative technologies, or training programs, and values ​​such as sustainable work or the diversity and inclusivity of the team.

great resignation tech recruiting

Tips on how to keep IT professionals in your organization

The Great Resignation shows us that the HR departments’ focus must be equal to the existing team and talent acquisition.

The following points should be part of your HR strategy:

  • Transparency and humanity as the basis of all HR processes: Modern technologies and automated administration are part of it but should be used selectively - face-to-face communication still is the most effective way to treat emotional topics.
  • Do regular informal check-ups: This is important for remote and hybrid teams to determine the project's progress and personal sensitivities and problems via video chat or regular coffee meetings.
  • Be appreciative of your developers: For example, by ensuring that the appropriate technical and time frame is given for their tasks—reward intensive work periods with time off, financial bonuses, and appropriate celebrations.
  • Show trust by giving developers responsibility: Give teams and individuals more autonomy in the way they do their work. Avoid micromanaging and performance assessments via monitoring software.
  • Be open to models and tools of modern collaboration: Team can decide and organize hybrid and flexible work, which collaborative software is used, etc.
  • Investment in further training and the employee journey: It starts with whether your developers are busy and challenged - are there opportunities for upskilling or interest in learning new technologies? Discuss advancement opportunities for a job change or current role expansion.
  • Open the door for internal recruiting and boomerang candidates: The effort involved in hiring and training new employees is sometimes higher than qualifying your staff for new positions. Communicate openly that internal job mobility is possible and desirable.

Developers who leave the company during the crisis could also return sooner or later - so keep in mind the possibility of building and maintaining contacts with former employees.


#Wanted and #Misunderstood: A Developer Survey 2023 (Full Report)

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#Wanted and #Misunderstood: A Developer Survey 2023 (Full Report)

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