Through most of the pandemic, tech talent held the upper hand and employees were demanding flexibility in three key areas:
- Work location.
- Work schedule.
- Diversification of work.
Higher compensation was a given, but for workers, flexibility was the priority. Companies who wanted to retain their tech talent during the pandemic had little choice but to meet these demands or deal with a phenomenon known as the "Great Resignation."
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the Information sector, which includes Big Tech as well as smaller technology companies, was the third highest category to fall victim to mass resignations as quit rates increased over 33% from November 2020 to November 2021. HR leaders in tech reported voluntary attrition was up nearly 50%, suggesting a harder hit than BLS reports.
A big sea change like this results in whiplash. Whiplash occurs when there is a sudden directional change forward to backward. Anyone that has been through this would agree that it is not an enjoyable experience. (Also read: How the Pandemic Is Affecting Women in Tech.)
Tech talent can expect another whiplash as we move past the Great Resignation. This time, however, they won't always hold the upper hand.
On November 19, 2021, the NASDAQ hit its all-time peak of 16,057, then began its backward fall of over 30% to a recent closing mark of 10,890. While the NASDAQ index isn’t directly tied to the talent demands within technology, many would say that it is a proxy of the technology industry's strength.
Microsoft, Meta and Netflix have all announced hiring freezes or massive cuts. After being taken private, Twitter announced a target of 25% workforce reduction — in the first round!
In short, more tech layoffs are coming and may come quickly.
While demands from tech talent will likely remain focused on flexibility, managers will have less openings to fill and will regain their own version of flexibility when recruiting new hires.
That's because this latest whiplash gives tech company leaders an opportunity to reset their recruiting, retention, and talent development programs as the recession looms. Retention will once again become a shared decision as tech leaders are now having to choose who to retain and who NOT to retain.
The post-Great Resignation world sets the stage for the "Great Realignment," a world where tech talent demands are tightly coupled with company goals and both sides benefit.