One of the looming questions facing every organization and industry right now is what workers will do when the veil of the pandemic lifts for good. Will there be a return to some level of normalcy, or will we see, as some have termed it, The Great Resignation, featuring a mass exodus of workers fleeing to greener pastures? Our 2021 Technologist Sentiment Report reveals how technologists are feeling about their jobs and careers, remote (and flexible) work, work-life balance and, importantly, the likelihood that they will look to change employers this year.
More than 1,000 technologists offered their viewpoints for the Report, and many seemed optimistic about not only the economic recovery, but also their career and current roles. Between the fourth quarter of 2020 and the second quarter of 2021, the number of technologists who were either very or somewhat satisfied with their careers rose from 67 percent to 75 percent.
Technologists also felt good about their current jobs, with 65 percent of them saying they were either very or somewhat satisfied in the second quarter of 2021, compared to 55 percent in the fourth quarter of 2020. The increased job satisfaction can be attributed to a variety of different factors, including an increased comfort level with a fully remote environment, optimism for a return to growth within their organizations (which could correspond with raises and promotions), and solid work by organizations in making human-centric adjustments during the pandemic.
Although technologists were generally happy with their careers and current jobs, satisfaction with current roles remains lower than overall career satisfaction. For managers and executives in need of talent, this presents an interesting conundrum. While higher job satisfaction could signal that it might be more difficult to lure skilled technologists away from their current roles, the outlook for the profession and the ever-increasing demand for sought-after technology professionals is likely to drive up recruiting competition (and incentives). For technologists, this trend could lead to companies offering higher compensation in addition to sought-after benefits such as increased stock options.
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But technologists also flagged some persistent career concerns. For example, 19 percent of respondents cited “position or contract elimination” as a top concern. Some 10 percent also said they were worried about “not getting promoted.” This worry speaks to the fact that many organizations were forced to delay promotions and raises in 2020 due to belt-tightening, putting more pressure on these employers to open their pocketbooks in 2021.
Another eight percent of technologists chose “keeping skills up to date/being valuable to employers” as a major concern; with many training and development budgets being cut in 2020, technologists are looking for ways to continue to develop their skill sets, within or outside of their organizations.
Other high scores included those worried about having their “remote work privileges revoked” (nine percent), “finding a new job that matches my skill set” (nine percent) and “increased workload” (nine percent). Taken together, these concerns paint a picture of some urgency for companies, which must ensure they both have policies in place and communicate those policies to technologists to increase the possibility of retention. Those technologists showing concerns and looking at other organizations’ opportunities will undoubtedly be pitched promotions, flexibility and a structured workload as key incentives to stay with their current employer.
The data on career concerns was gathered in Q4 2020, and things have likely changed since then, especially given how quickly the economy is reopening in some states; in March, for instance, employers across all sectors of the economy increased their base of tech workers by an estimated 50,000 positions. But even as organizations begin to recover from the pandemic, there are constant reminders in the media of the ever-present threat of shifts that lead to restructuring or layoffs; technologists may continue to carry their concerns for quite some time.
The increase in career satisfaction and these nagging career concerns, combined with nearly half of technologists saying they’re either somewhat or very interested in changing employers, hints at a possible flurry of tech-hiring activity for the remainder of the year. That’s also a clarion call for employers to put significant resources into both recruiting and retention efforts around skilled technologist talent.