The Great Developer Resignation

In 2021, many companies had employees leave positions. The number of people resigning from their jobs was so high that the term “The Great Resignation” began appearing in many publications. A number of industries were affected, and there are no shortage of pundits and experts analyzing why. This happened primarily in the US, but the UK is concerned. This doesn’t appear to be happening in Europe, but there are concerns in Asia and Australia as well.

The term feels misleading to me, as workers aren’t forgoing work. Rather, they’re changing jobs and looking for new positions, either at a better position in their field or leaving the field altogether. This is disruptive for firms, and costly, as finding new employees can be challenging and time-consuming. We also see a great loss to teams as the more talented employees find it easier to leave and replacing those people with less-skilled workers impacts their productivity.

I ran across a couple of articles (US, UK) that talk specifically about the challenges when software developers leave. Many companies have realized the value that software brings to their business and feel the impact of the losses that come when they don’t (or can’t) execute on new application projects. The rush to DevOps is driven because better software and a smoother lifecycle improve the bottom line. Unfortunately, just as many companies don’t want to actually change and adopt better development practices, they often don’t want to change their culture, which impacts their ability to retain a talented workforce.

It’s Friday, and you might spend a little time reading the articles and thinking about your position. If you feel you are good at your job and don’t necessarily enjoy the environment, workload, or compensation, should you think about leaving? Is now the time to ask for a better work environment? Should you look at companies that will give you remote work?

The main question this week, which I know is hard to disclose publicly, is are you thinking about changing jobs? I expect few people to leave comments, but I’d ask you to think about your situation.

We know that compensation matters, and many people find they can make a great living working with technology. However, there are other things that are important as well. Having a purpose that allows you to succeed at solving problems you enjoy, a culture that invigorates and stimulates you, autonomy to work on the things that your employer finds important, but in a way that suits you and your team. These are all items that attract talent. The reverse is also true, when you have a micro-managing, blameful culture where lots of uninteresting work is mandated. Those situations repel workers.

As we come out of the pandemic, and organizations struggle to decide how to handle the future of offices and workplaces, there is a lot of power in workers’ hands. The last two years have shown that most of us can work remotely and get things done. We have the supply of skills that can’t meet the growing demand, and this is a good time to think about finding your dream job. If not the dream, then one that might be better than your current one.

I have an amazing job at an amazing company, but not everyone does. If you enjoy your position, then good for you. You likely have more security now than ever. I know if I were still working for a few of my former employers, I’d certainly be setting myself up to find something as wonderful as I have now.

Steve Jones


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