Insights | Coping with the Great Resignation: Don’t Be a Statistic

Coping with the Great Resignation: Don’t Be a Statistic

By Mike McAuliffe | March 7, 2022

The Great Resignation Illustration

 

The Great Resignation may be coming for your software development team. Otherwise known as the "Big Quit," it’s a byproduct of the stress of the pandemic and the new work norms and expectations that it ushered in.

Whatever you call it, it is wreaking havoc with software development teams all over the United States and the world. With developers in such demand, there are plenty of recruiters ready to lure them away. 

Your senior Ruby on Rails engineer might get offered a higher salary, more flexible working hours and some cool perks to jump ship in the middle of a critical IT initiative. Then - boom! - you’d become another statistic in the Great Resignation. And you’d be stuck trying to recruit for skilled engineers in the tightest market for software development talent on record. 

So what exactly is going on? Joseph B. Fuller, the co-leader of the Future of Work Project at Harvard Business School, says the Great Resignation could more accurately be called the "Great Reconsideration."

That is, people aren’t totally opting out of the workforce, but reappraising their expectations for how they want to work and what they want to do for a living. Many are finding jobs with reduced work hours, starting small businesses or becoming contractors.

Whether it's a change in career goals or the lure of better money and conditions elsewhere, the effect is the same: Your business is at risk of losing skilled and experienced staff more than ever before. And companies' innovation agendas are at risk if they can't staff their critical digital transformation initiatives.

The Scale of the Problem

A record 4.5 million Americans quit their jobs in November 2021, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. There were 10.9 million job openings in December, just shy of the record high of 11.1 million recorded last July.

This increased “churn” in the workforce is due to a series of factors that boil down to this: Workers have more choice and mobility than ever before at a time when demand for their services is greater than ever.

Technology and healthcare are the worst-affected industries according to an in-depth analysis of 9 million employment records by the Harvard Business Review. The huge wave of digitization the pandemic triggered also increased pressure on tech workers and the workload hasn’t eased up in 2022. 

“When I’ve talked to engineers, one of the things they’ve been prioritizing, in addition to freedom and flexibility, is really about how the work can be important,” Kit Merker, the COO of Nobl9, a software reliability platform, told WIRED. “It used to be about the campus, the perks, the money. But if you're sitting at home and you don’t have access to the micro kitchen, the barista, the massages, then what really is separating this job from another job?” 

Avoiding Pandemic-driven Attrition

Numerous surveys of software engineers reveal the extent of the problem with burnout and the key drivers of it.

A report exploring the effects of the pandemic on software engineering found that 83% of engineers reported experiencing burnout, with 81% attributing their burnout to the pressures and increased workload caused by the pandemic, according to a 2021 study by Survation. The top drivers were no surprise - overwork, pandemic-related stress uncertainty and isolation.

 

Top Five Reasons for Pandemic-Related Burnout Among Developers - LATEST

 

Industry experts are increasingly recommending the use of outside resources to take some pressure off.

"A team extension means extending your software programming team to facilitate a better and more efficient development process. By choosing to hire an offshore software developer, you lessen your in-house team’s workload and reduce the risk of programmer burnout," Andrew Burak, CEO of Relevant, wrote in a LinkedIn article about the burnout struggle.

So what else can you do to protect your development resources against the forces of the Great Resignation?

It comes down to job satisfaction, morale and culture - and tracking them, according to Rob Zuber, Chief Technology Officer at CircleCI. His top recommendations include:

  • Giving developers the tools so that work feels like play. Automate all of the mundane and time-consuming tasks that sap the life from your developers. Make onboarding easy and have good processes that enable developers to enjoy their work. As Zuber points out: “A simple life means developers are innovating, not toiling”.

  • Measuring the right things – including morale. Zuber suggests focusing on three key metrics - velocity, morale and business performance. Engineering metrics including factors such as sprint velocity and code throughput are useful, but need to be considered alongside surveys gauging job satisfaction as well as metrics tracking the big picture success of the business, such as revenue growth and customer satisfaction. 

  • Investing in an outcomes-driven culture. Bring your developers closer to your customer. They’ll feel more empowered, giving them more connection and ownership of the desired outcomes of their work. Foster a more collaborative environment and use metrics to favor outcomes over outputs.

That’s the internal perspective. But as the Great Resignation marches on, IT leaders are exploring external ways to hedge their risk including outsourced teams. Here’s why:

  • A smartly deployed outsourcing team can be configured to lessen the workload of your overburdened developer team, reducing the chance of attrition due to burnout.

  • Employees at a world-class offshore outsourcing partner may be less likely to jump ship. Software outsourcing firms stay on top of competitive pay and perks, due to the importance of having sufficient, highly qualified talent on hand from developers and engineers to project managers and designers.

  • If a team member leaves, an outsourcing partner is contractually obliged to fill that role quickly and keep your development projects on track, rather than put you into a recruiting frenzy.

Outsourcing Solutions as an Answer

Why is software development outsourcing becoming a key weapon in the fight against the Great Resignation?

The Great Resignation has accelerated many employers’ move down the technology offshoring adoption curve. Where some companies once considered contracting in third-party developers to supplement their in-house capability, so-called "staff augmentation," many are now looking to use outsourcing more strategically to stand up entire offshore development teams. 

This trend is particularly pronounced for software projects that require highly-specialized skills in emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, advanced data analytics, Internet of Things applications and blockchain. 

“In many cases, the alternative for executives is having to contend with lower revenues and reduced market share,” explains Rich Wanden, Accelerance’s Chief Customer Success Officer. “They can’t wait around for skilled developers to become available in their local market.”

But the tech talent shortage is a global phenomenon. Are the regions that have established themselves as go-to destinations for outsourced software development able to deal with the demand?

There have certainly been some pain points for Accelerance's software outsourcing partners. Churn is up in the partner ecosystem, which can be disruptive when team members are lost to other firms. In the world of software outsourcing, speed is of the essence and the velocity of code production is a critical factor to meet deadlines.

Accelerance partners are ramping up their recruitment and offering more unique services and packages to their clients. An outsourcing team offers the advantage of starting right away instead of waiting on a recruitment process. The greater demand is a problem they are happy to have as new customers are coming their way, many in industries they haven’t worked with before.

The Big Quit versus the Hiring Bubble

The Big Quit has come at a bad time for IT leaders who are in the middle of a hiring bubble. Projects are stalled due to managers being unable to hire experienced software developers to work on their applications and platforms. Existing and new customers started coming to us in late 2020 seeking relief for their labor shortages. 

“They were struggling to find enough people to cover the attrition in their workforce, let alone growth,” says Wanden.

Wanden has experienced several hiring bubbles during his career in the IT industry - the scramble for coders to upgrade systems to prepare for Y2K, the flurry of development during the dotcom boom and later the rise of Web 2.0 and the transition to mobile apps on the smartphone.

“This particular hiring bubble is driven by different behaviors,” Wanden says. “It’s a fundamental move from monolithic tech environments to microservices and cloud platforms. Due to the pandemic, every business has had to do something digital at a scale that they had never anticipated.”

That pressure has resulted in businesses paying a 20-30% premium for developers’ salaries over last year’s baseline figures while having to offer better performance incentives and to accommodate more flexible working arrangements. 

Recruitment fees, which can amount to 25% of a developer’s salary, just add to the financial pain, but talent scouts are in a seller’s market and busier than ever. Many of our customers have found themselves in a bidding war as they attempt to secure key in-house development staff.

Get the Right Direction

Many chief technology officers will be embarking on their first outsourcing partnership in 2022 out of necessity. But they find that offshoring software engineering can advance product development faster, access highly specialized skills and save on human resources costs in the long run. They also benefit from accessing a more diverse workforce and the ideas generated through working with qualified specialists in different organizations.

But Wanden advises those who have not used offshore teams before to approach such engagements with caution and to conduct thorough due diligence.

“A lot of people were caught out around the time of Y2K because they had to hire anyone they could find,” he says. “There’s an element of that now. Approaching outsourcing from a mindset of desperation is never going to produce good decisions.”

It’s mission critical to find a software development partner capable of working with a client to create a seamless team that can be up and running and productive quickly. The financial and legal aspects of software outsourcing can be confusing to navigate.

 

“We're getting record calls for outsourcing to help deal with the staffing crisis caused by the tech skills shortage and the Great Resignation. There are a lot of mistakes you can make if you're not experienced in outsourcing. That's why Accelerance has built a proven process, our Rapid Referral® program. It allows us to find you a completely vetted, perfect-fit software development outsourcing partner within 10 days. And that dedicated team makes you future-proof against such unexpected business disruptions like those the last few years.

-Rich Wanden, Chief Customer Success Officer, Accelerance

 

The Big Quit has presented almost every industry with unprecedented challenges when it comes to talent recruitment and retention. The tech talent shortage is set to continue. But software offshoring - done smartly - is an alternative to the talent poaching and bidding wars currently underway.

Accelerance is that trusted adviser there to help you embrace software outsourcing and avoid getting burned in hastily arranged deals that turn into disaster stories.

For more than 20 years, we have specialized in matching US companies with the best development teams personally selected for them from the top 1% of software outsourcing firms from Eastern Europe to Central and South America to Asia. Our proven due diligence process is designed to find the right partner match every time. 

We're ready for you. Our software outsourcing partners have prepared their businesses for the new reality and have the technical expertise and bandwidth to handle the full gamut of software projects.

Accelerance can source the right software development talent that will future-proof your technology initiatives. You don't have to take on the Great Resignation alone.

Set a free appointment with an Accelerance trusted advisor for experienced advice from the premier global software outsourcing authority® delivering top-tier software development resources and providing professional consulting services. 


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