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Executive View: Company Leaders and IT Talent Are a Big Part of Job Exodus

While those who are part of the Great Resignation are largely low-wage workers, senior executives are also quitting their jobs.


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​They were chief operating officers. Chief marketing officers. Chief commercial officers.

They were leaders at brands like Honeywell and VMware. They oversaw budgets in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

All of them quit their jobs within the past 19 months, citing burnout, or disillusionment, or the desire to spend time with family, or what's come to be known as "COVID clarity"—a reassessment of what really matters in their lives.

While those who are part of the Great Resignation are largely low-wage workers, senior executives are also quitting their jobs. The New York Times tells the stories of five such executives who were "propelled by a mix of needing a break, reassessing the role of work in their lives and wanting to pursue new ventures."

A Revolving Door of IT Workers

You know how critical your IT workers are to your organization's success. You may have a chief technology officer, or you may be one. Even if you don't, or aren't, you no doubt rely heavily on someone, whether in house or on contract, to jump in when laptops break down, a cybersecurity risk pops up, Internet connections are slow, passwords don't work, files are lost or software programs freeze up.

Yet if your company is like many others, you're probably cycling through IT workers at a rate that makes your head spin. It's not enough that there's an ongoing talent shortage; IT experts are among the most sought after and highly paid talent in the current business world.

Computerworld reports that only 29.1 percent of IT employees have solid plans to stay with their current employers, and notes that 76 percent of IT employees who switched jobs last year had at least two other offers for new employment, compared to the 43 percent of non-IT employees who had multiple job offers.

Computerworld breaks IT resignations down by age and region and offers some clues as to the "why" behind the departures.

"As Gen X- and Y-ers take over key IT roles within enterprises, they're demanding not just higher pay, but better working conditions—and more attentive managers," the publication says.

Reasons Technology Workers Are Leaving

When it comes to the IT exodus, 2022 doesn't look to be much different, according to a Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) article titled "IT Workers Will Be Hard to Find and Keep in 2022."

In October, TalentLMS and recruiting software company Workable published a survey that polled 1,200 IT workers and found that 72 percent of U.S. respondents said they were thinking of quitting their jobs in the next 12 months.

Respondents cited several reasons for wanting to quit, with 41 percent saying their jobs had limited career progression, 40 percent noting a lack of flexibility in working hours and 39 percent citing a toxic work environment.

This doesn't come at an ideal time for businesses, many of which are facing increased IT problems to solve, including:

  • Maintaining strong cybersecurity for a hybrid workforce of remote and onsite workers.
  • Managing return-to-office health and safety protocols, software, apps and data.
  • Deciding which technologies are necessary for their company in the post-pandemic future.

'Identify Bad Actors,' Cautions Risk Expert

Much has been written this past year about how company leaders should attract and retain good workers.

Tom Miller is the co-founder and CEO of ClearForce, a cyber and employee risk management company based in Vienna, Va. Miller has more than 25 years of analytics and risk management experience. In this SHRM article, he discusses culture as it relates to talent management. 

Among his many salient observations are these:

"Studies show that a toxic culture in the workplace is 10 times more meaningful than compensation when an employee decides to leave their job.

"Obtaining information related to culture or toxic leadership needs to be an ongoing, real-time activity—not a point-in-time assessment, survey or annual review. 

"Management needs to first listen—to their customers, to their employees and to their stakeholders. Why are your customers still buying from you? What has made tenured employees stay with the company?

"Identify bad actors. After that, accountability and true change need to follow. Employees who are aware of the problem will be watching to see if fair, equitable and appropriate actions are taken.

"Looking away from unethical behaviors and ignoring workers who feel disrespected will result in losing a lot of your talent pool," Miller says. "Attempting to hide or put off these types of things will only make matters worse, and it sends out a dangerous message to employees. Upholding integrity and consistency in terms of behavioral matters is something people remember when it's time to assess how happy they are within your organization." 


Dana Wilkie is the managing editor of the SHRM Executive Network. She is in charge of the EN: Brief and Managing Smart newsletters. For a complete list of articles, visit Dana's SHRM author page.

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