Surviving and thriving through the Great Resignation

While skill shortages are nothing new for the ICT sector, the Great Resignation has hit this industry hard, exacerbating an already challenging situation with increased instability and substantial salary hikes. Companies seeking to lure new staff are having to dig deeper financially and enhance their packages with a range of benefits and enticing work practices. While these can definitely help attract and retain the talent you need, Technology Leadership Coach Caroline New believes it’s also important to get real about how you engage with your people.

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Jul 26, 2022

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6 mins read

Speak to any leader in the technology sector and the conversation eventually shifts to staff turnover and what they’re doing to recruit or retain team members. Either they’re losing staff to the Great Resignation or they’re seeking to fill open roles to enable key projects or support growth and expansion.

Cross-sectoral research suggests that between 48 and 55 per cent of workers plan to change jobs in the next 12 months. This figure is even higher in the tech sector, where existing skill shortages and growing demands for workers with experience in data analytics, cloud computing, cybersecurity and agile development are creating a recruiting merry-go-round.

Indeed, a global Gartner survey of 18,000 employees (including 1,755 who work in IT) found that tech workers in Australia and New Zealand were the most open to moving with only 18 per cent planning to stay put. The same study claimed that only 16 per cent of IT workers aged 19 to 29 plan to remain in their jobs, compared to 48 per cent of workers aged 50-70.

People in my network tell me they’re receiving multiple calls each week from recruiters promising significant salary increases and signing bonuses if they’re willing to jump ship. And since many leaders often seek to bring high performing team members with them to guarantee their ability to deliver, we’re likely to see continued instability and high staff turnover for many months to come as new recruits reinforce their teams.

Perhaps you’re a senior executive who knows you need to retain key skills in order to fulfil on critical priorities. Or maybe you’re an HR leader charged with filling seats in your tech organisation or considering how to maximise engagement to build loyalty and encourage people to stay.

Having been in the tech industry since the late 1980s, I have observed over and over again how recruiters and hiring managers go to market demanding a ‘perfect match’ in terms of skills and experience instead of considering how they could develop existing staff for those opportunities. This has never made sense to me.

When we invest in existing team members and equip them with the future skills and knowledge we need, we build employee engagement and loyalty while continuing to benefit from their corporate knowledge and experience.  

While money is an important consideration for workers thinking about changing roles, particularly in light of spiralling inflation rates, other factors such as a values match, opportunities to learn and grow, being part of a great team or doing meaningful work are also significant drivers.

Technology Decisions reports that key factors increasing employees’ intent to stay are a belief that their career goals can be met at the company, feelings of belonging and wellbeing, and confidence in the future of the company and its products or services (Qualtrics Employee Experience Trends Report).

Meanwhile, a recent article in Digital Nation points to a study claiming 61 per cent of tech workers would leave their current job for an opportunity to be part of an organisation with a higher level of social responsibility, even if all other factors remained the same.

In such a challenging climate, what can you do as a leader to impact the situation? Should you sit back and just suck it up? Work harder to headhunt good people from your competitors? Or are there opportunities to better position your company/team/workplace to attract the talent you need?

As an ontological leadership coach, I always consider which Ways of Being are most likely to create the desired outcomes, and in the context of current employment trends, there are several that have a role to play.

Higher Purpose - When organisations are clear on their purpose and communicate it regularly to their employees, customers and the market, it encourages people to align with those shared values and commitments. According to the Being Profile®, higher purpose is “being drawn and compelled towards a future vision or cause greater than your personal concerns and beyond your immediate interests and/or comfort in such a way that it sets your priorities and worldview. It’s going beyond yourself and the current circumstances to identify resolutions that will drive you towards that future vision.”

Today’s workers, particularly our younger generations, are committed to making a difference in the world, and to operate sustainably and responsibly. They are looking for workplaces with a clear mission, which are dedicated to achieving more than just profits or even outstanding customer service, but which want to contribute to social outcomes and improve quality of life for all.

Organisations with a strong brand for corporate social responsibility engender greater loyalty and less staff turnover than their competitors. How does your company rate in this area and what can you do to enhance this and communicate your mission more widely?

Today’s workers don’t want to be seen as cogs in a machine, but want to feel valued and treated with respect. Both love and partnership are critical to achieving this. And before you ask, “What’s love got to do with it?”, think about the best, most supportive and productive professional relationships you’ve ever had. Didn’t you care about those people and yes, even love them?

Love - The Being Framework™ distinguishes love as when, “you mostly experience both caring and being cared for by others, a true sense of connectedness. Others experience your care, warmth and genuine affection towards them. You are free to convey affection and care without fear of judgement or concern over the need to comply. You are courageous and can endure prejudice, judgement, rejection and the discomfort of being disliked by those you love.”  

When we bring love to work, we want to help those around us feel important and cared for, we recognise and appreciate their unique differences and ensure they have what they need to succeed. When we are on a mission and working towards a shared goal, our ability to show love and care for those around us makes the journey easier, the challenges less insurmountable and the desired result more achievable.

Partnership - This is the give and take between people on that journey that leads to synergistic outcomes. The Being Profile® states, partnership is “being in union with other human beings, an entity, person, team or organisation in the pursuit and fulfilment of a common purpose. It is when you are available to join with others who may share the same values, goals or commitments to create a disproportionate outcome in comparison to what each of you could possibly achieve alone.”

True partnership means taking opportunities to empower and even stretch each other, going beyond our normal inclinations to support mutual goals and outcomes, and working in such a way that each person is encouraged to make a valuable contribution to the goal. 

My best experiences of partnership involved building relationships to the point where we understood each others’ gifts and aspirations, and actively sought to leverage these to enhance our joint outcomes and optimise both individual and team satisfaction. 

If you’re up to big things in the world, whether it’s growing and supporting your organisation, delivering on technology projects or creating exciting new innovations, embodying the qualities of higher purpose, love and partnership will enable you to not only survive The Great Resignation, but thrive through and beyond it.

LeadershipHigh PerformanceTechleadershipSystemsOrganisationBeing FrameworkOntological Coach

Caroline New

About The Author

Caroline is a leadership coach who works with senior tech executives and ICT business owners to empower them to be exceptional leaders in their organisations and a force for good in the world. As technology becomes ever more pervasive and disruptive, tech leaders have a critical role to play. However, their impact is often diluted because they struggle with the people issues, such as building a high performing team, managing stakeholders, having difficult conversations and communicating with clarity and influence. Having spent over 30 years working in the Australian and international tech industry herself – the last 17 years as a coach and group facilitator – she understands the issues and pressures technology leaders face. And she knows how to fast-track the development of leaders and their teams, using the Being Profile to highlight strengths and growth opportunities so they can maximise their impact and deliver the desired results.

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