The great resignation: 14 stats on the state of the IT career market

If you're an IT job seeker, or a manager looking to stem the departures, consider these telling data points
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The turnover tsunami has officially begun: Twice the number of workers in the U.S. are looking to jump ship now versus two years ago, according to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), the largest HR association in the U.S.

That’s a result of the pent-up desire for greener pastures that employees put on hold during the uncertain days of the pandemic. Good news for IT professionals pursuing opportunities now: There are more positions than ever before as technology job growth continues to outpace the overall job growth rate in the U.S.

Retaining star performers will be paramount.

IT organizations are in the all-too-familiar position of talent demand outstripping supply – an issue that is threatening digital transformation work and implementation of related technologies that are critical to business survival and competitive advantage.

Although bringing in top talent remains at the top of the IT leader agenda, it will be downright impossible for them to successfully hire their way out of this situation. Retaining their star performers will be paramount.

[ Where is your team's digital transformation work stalling? Get the eBook: What's slowing down your Digital Transformation? 8 questions to ask. ]

IT careers and The Great Resignation: Telling statistics 

This is a fluid situation on all sides. To get a better understanding of the current state of affairs, we’ve pulled together some of the most pertinent data on the great resignation and its impact on enterprise IT:

Mass exodus underway

Four in 10 U.S. workers are actively searching for a new job right now or plan to do so soon, according to a survey from SHRM presented on September 11 at the organization’s annual conference. That’s double the number who were job hunting in 2019, according to SHRM chief knowledge officer Alex Alonso.

And there’s work aplenty for those skilled technology workers. In fact, many roles are all new.

25,400 new IT positions were created in August, despite slowed overall growth, according to the analysis of U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data by IT employment consultancy Janco Associates. That’s on top of the 28,600 positions that were created in June and July, continuing the trend of monthly IT job growth every month of 2021. CompTIA’s monthly tech jobs report indicated a total of 26,800 new US tech-sector jobs (on top of their combined June and July totals of 21,200 new positions). That gives us a total of 3.7 million IT jobs (according to Janco).

[ What technology skills are most in-demand now? Read also: Open source IT jobs in 2021: 15 statistics. ]

What it takes to retain IT pros now: Money matters

1 in 5: If you’re planning to convince your top IT pros to make their next move internally, you’ll probably need to try a lot harder. Only one out of five employees say they believe they can meet their career goals where they work today and have their manager’s and organization’s support to pursue those goals, according to the most recent Employee Well-Being Report from Glint (which was bought by LinkedIn). (Note: these respondents were not limited to technology workers.)

If you’re planning to convince your top IT pros to make their next move internally, you’ll probably need to try a lot harder.

So, what might inspire workers to stay where they are? Better pay, better balance, better benefits – those are the top three reasons American employees are hitting the bricks. More than half of HR leaders surveyed by SHRM (53 percent) said employees left for better compensation, 42 percent for better work-life balance (not including remote work), and 36 percent for better benefits. In addition, one-third said employees went elsewhere for career advancement opportunities or because they wanted to make a career change.

Technology professionals place an ever-higher premium on remuneration. In fact, 71 percent of tech workers said they would change employers for higher compensation (making it the leading reason IT folks go job hunting), according to Dice’s 2020 Tech Salary Report. That was followed by better working conditions, cited by 47 percent.

IT workers already tend to make more than other professions. The median technology occupation wage is 2x the median national wage in the U.S., according to CompTIA.

Don't underestimate stress levels

But employee well-being remains a major concern across industries and functions, including IT.

Burnout rose by almost 9 percent between April and July 2021, according to the Glint Employee Well-Being Report, a 12 percent increase from the prior July.

In fact, stress has become such an important topic that Gallup announced plans to launch a Worldwide Stress Index in 2021, following what it found was the most stressful year in history: A record-high 40 percent of adults said they had experienced a lot of stress the previous day when asked last year (a five percent jump from the prior year).

As for how all of this is impacting the IT function and the larger enterprise, the picture is less than rosy. The overall IT talent shortage has become the most significant barrier to adoption for 64 percent of emerging technologies this year (compared to just 4 percent in 2020, according to a September 2021 survey from Gartner. The dearth of necessary skills was cited far more often than implementation costs (29 percent) or security risks (7 percent).

Scarcest IT skills

What’s more, that same Gartner survey says talent availability was the leading cause for inhibited adoption across all six technology areas covered by Gartner (compute infrastructure and platform services, storage and database, network, security, digital workplace, and IT automation).

Gartner research vice president Yinuo Geng noted in the accompanying press release that an increase in remote work and accelerated hiring plans has exacerbated the scarcity of IT skills particularly in the areas of cloud, edge computing, automation, and continuous delivery.

Of course, some IT leaders are facing a problem more with their own organization's hiring process than a scarcity of skills. Right now, it's important to consider whether your IT organization is hiring for aptitude, for example, and how effectively it's doing so.

[ Get exercises and approaches that make disparate teams stronger. Read the digital transformation ebook: Transformation Takes Practice. ]

Stephanie Overby is an award-winning reporter and editor with more than twenty years of professional journalism experience. For the last decade, her work has focused on the intersection of business and technology. She lives in Boston, Mass.

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