The unemployment rate in the IT industry remains at a steady low. This means the reason IT professionals look for new jobs is not because they are desperate for employment and a renewed source of income. Instead, these highly competent technology professionals are searching primarily for better technical opportunities. The demand for their skills gives them the confidence to explore the marketplace. However, it is essential to understand exactly what motivates them in leaving their old positions and evaluating new ones. Without this deeper understanding, companies will almost always struggle to retain and recruit top IT talent.
Why They Leave Old Jobs
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the rate of employee quits is steadily rising in every sector, including information technology, and has in fact doubled over the last decade. A high voluntary quit rate often suggests that professionals are becoming more confident in the job market, but that is not the only reason they decide to leave their old jobs or quit projects sooner than they were contracted for.
A recent survey from Staffing Industry Analysts reveals that a massive 33 percent of IT consultants have quit an assignment early. Their reasons why are listed as follows:
- Another employer offered me a better job (25 percent)
- Unpleasant work environment/disliked manager or coworkers (18 percent)
- Not the job I was told it would be (15 percent)
- Pay/benefits not delivered as promised (10 percent)
- Lack of tracking, just thrown into it (8 percent)
- Commute longer/more difficult than expected (6 percent)
- Felt ostracized, no one paid much attention to me (3 percent)
- Other (15 percent)
Although it is somewhat unclear from this data what constitutes a “better job,” it is clear that workers will not hesitate to leave if they perceive that their quality of life is suffering in their current position. Whether that is because of a toxic work environment, unreasonable expectations, lacking pay, long commutes, or something else, workers are not afraid to search out new opportunities when their current job is falling short.
A recent article from Harvard Business Review presents another reason why professionals often choose to leave their jobs. A study from CEB, a Gartner organization, shows that people are likely to quit their jobs in response to how they perceive they are doing in life or in their career in comparison to their peers. Comparisons of this nature are likely to occur at significant life or career milestones, such as work anniversaries (when job search activity has shown to increase 6-9 percent), birthdays (when job searches increase 12 percent), and gatherings such as class reunions (when job hunting jumps 16 percent). In other words, many of the reasons people quit their job are outside of the workplace entirely and occur on a much more personal level.
Companies should be acutely aware of these reasons people leave in order to adjust their retention strategies accordingly for both direct employees and project-based consultants.
What They Want in New Jobs
Reasons IT professionals leave their jobs and what they are looking for in a new job often overlap, and it is imperative that employers understand both sides in order to effectively retain and recruit their IT workers.
A 2017 global survey of 64,000 developers reveals a broader view of how IT professionals assess job opportunities. The top five priorities for a new IT job are as following:
- Opportunities for professional development
- Compensation and benefits
- The office environment
- The technologies they would be working with
- The amount of time spent commuting
In our own experience at Resource 1, we know that IT consultants are constantly aiming to build their skill sets so they are more marketable. Thus, they want to work on relevant projects with cutting edge technologies. They value opportunities to grow their skills while maintaining a high-quality work-life balance, and they are looking to be challenged on a technical level while also fitting comfortably into the company culture. Additionally, we have seen a growing number of IT consultants who are choosing remote work opportunities over other quality job offers.
It is also essential to understand how generational differences impact what a professional wants in a new job. A PwC study of Millennials reveals that the two most important factors that influence a Millennial’s decision to accept a job are the opportunity for personal development and the reputation of the organization. When asked what they believe makes an organization more attractive as an employer, their top three factors were opportunities for career progression, competitive wages, and excellent training/development programs. As this generation continues to pour into the workplace, replacing many retiring Baby Boomers, employers must be aware of these motivations and adapt accordingly.
Retaining and Recruiting IT Professionals
Some companies may see contractual IT workers as temporary, but that does not mean that rate increases, training opportunities, and the overall company culture is less important than it is for direct employees. In fact, the demand for these professionals is so high that retaining IT consultants should be a high priority, and keeping up with the market has never been more important. We are all too aware that overhauling your retention strategy may require an evolution in the way a company’s leadership thinks about their workforce. Change of this nature demands a keen awareness of the current marketplace and how it impacts both your current and future IT workers.
At Resource 1, we have spent the last 35 years navigating the evolving IT marketplace and delivering top IT talent to our valued clients. Our deep relationships with our consultants give us first-hand experience into their motivations and preferences in their search for new opportunities. This deep-rooted understanding of our industry allows us to successfully identify the right IT people for every client every time. Contact us today.