Since the arrival of Covid-19, the market for tech talent has experienced a number of changes. Government-mandated lockdowns and extended periods of isolation led to an increased need for digital solutions and an almighty boom in the tech market, further widening the UK’s existing digital skills gap as the number of monthly tech vacancies rose to 400,000.

Now, almost two years since the first lockdown began, demand for tech talent continues to outweigh supply and ‘burned out’ workers with shifting priorities are beginning to look for new jobs in their droves. But what impact should ‘The Great Resignation’ have on the behaviour of hiring managers? Using Fruition IT’s recent report on changing workforce motivations, we look at how hiring managers can attract and retain tech talent in a post-Covid world.

The Great Resignation – Why quit now?

The onset of Covid-19 disrupted labour markets globally, and the short-term consequences were sudden and often severe, as millions of people were furloughed or made redundant, and others rapidly adjusted to working from home as offices closed.

Perhaps at a natural advantage, tech workers seemed to find the transition to working from home relatively painless, often already having the necessary tools in place to complete their work (e.g. a work laptop and virtual comms channels like Slack already in place). But despite this affinity with remote working, and the growing number of available tech roles, uncertainty surrounding the pandemic led to a stagnation in the labour market as tech workers became hesitant to leave existing employment in pursuit of new opportunities perceived to be “less secure”.

Now, almost two years since the pandemic began, some of the short-term consequences have subsided and Covid-19’s longer term effects on the labour market have begun to emerge. Among these trends is ‘The Great Resignation’ which predicts that around 24% of the UK’s total workforce will move jobs in the next 3-6 months.

Though ‘The Great Resignation’ isn’t exclusive to the IT workforce or even to the UK, it presents a particularly nasty threat for the country’s tech sector due to the widening of an existing digital skills gap. The number of tech vacancies in the UK today is 42% higher than pre-pandemic levels, and tech roles now constitute 13% of the country’s total vacancies . This, coupled with the flaws in the current tech talent pipeline – namely, the declining number of young people studying IT in school, and reluctance from employers to invest in on-the-job digital training – threatens the arrival of a greater digital skills shortage in the next five to ten years.

So, what does this mean for hiring managers?

Though the potential mass movement of tech talent has caused concern among economists and industry critics alike, there’s little evidence to suggest that it will result in a “brain drain” for the sector. In fact, the likelihood is that these employees will pursue other roles in tech, rather than leave the sector entirely. However, the increased competition for tech talent means that in order to attract and retain talent, hiring managers must effectively meet worker expectations. A recent Fruition IT survey identified the following as key considerations in a post-Covid world.

1. Employee Autonomy

The move to remote working proved a popular choice for many. In offering flexible work arrangements, organisations were able to better meet the demands of varying employee lifestyles, and this autonomy over and when and where they work was something survey respondents largely hoped would remain post-Covid.

Asked their preferred working location, 81% of respondents desired to work either “mainly” or “fully remote” for the foreseeable future whilst 13% opted for either fully or mostly office-based work. The 2021 CIPD Report echoes a similar sentiment, also suggesting that for many employees (39%) the introduction of flexible hours was one of the biggest benefits of working from home. The takeaway here for hiring managers is that by giving employees autonomy over their work schedule, organisations can account for varying worker needs and lifestyles, and appeal to a wider pool of candidates.

2. Job Security

Job security has always been an important factor on employee motivation, but during the pandemic the need for greater security led to significant changes in employee behaviour. Workers who may have otherwise moved on to new roles chose to remain with an existing employer to “ride out” uncertainty in the market, with 41% of the survey respondents identifying job security as their primary reason for not looking for a new role in the past 18 months.

As the number of available tech roles continues to rise and as previously disrupted industries begin to resume pre-pandemic activity though, workers are increasingly seeking out new job opportunities. This is of particular concern for the tech sector due to the highly-skilled workforce and the potential “brain drain” for tech businesses losing their talent. However, for hiring managers, this presents an opportunity to emphasise the wider benefits an organisation or role has to offer beyond basic security – for example, the provision of exciting or meaningful work, which may have previously been overlooked in favour of more traditional motivating factors like security or company benefits, and may help to set an organisation apart in a competitive talent market.

3. Pitching the Role

Where previously the power dynamic between employee and employer was often weighted in favour of the organisation, mass tech vacancies combined with organisations offering flexible working and higher salaries, mean that employees are able to be much more selective over which roles they take on.

Organisations who can acknowledge this shift in power, meet changing worker expectations – e.g. offering flexible work options and remuneration that reflects market demand – and communicate these benefits to potential candidates, will be those who are able to attract new talent in an increasingly competitive employment environment. For those organisations not attuned to what employees are looking for, or unable to communicate their employment benefits to candidates in an effective way, the increased competition for tech talent could prove to be extremely detrimental.

To find out more about emerging trends in the tech labour market, including the impact of IR35 and the changing motivations of permanent and contract employees, download the full ‘IT labour market in a post-Covid world: What drives IT candidates’ report HERE.