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Jobs Learning The Pandemic

Talent Exodus: Massive Job Churn Is on the Horizon

The last two years taught us to expect the unexpected. Unlikely things do happen, like a once-in-a-century pandemic. Or a massive wave of imminent job churn.

That’s right. Founders, hiring managers, and business leaders must prepare for what’s to come. While it’s difficult to predict the exact timing of this phenomenon, it’s already happening to some degree.  Dramatic churn becomes more and more likely as the country races towards a world not defined by a viral emergency. 

Just as the rewards were abundant for companies that were prepared for remote work prior to the pandemic, those who prepare for this trend stand to see a huge upside. Conversely, those who are unprepared are at risk of losing their best employees – including software engineers, programmers, designers, and more.

Evidence of the Upcoming Churn

At 10x Management, the tech talent agency where I work, we are still assessing the severity of the upcoming churn. Nevertheless, research backs our hypothesis. We are in for monumental movement, the likes of which today’s workforce has rarely ever seen.

Survey Data Points to an Upcoming “Talent Exodus”

Recent research by HR firm Personio surveyed 500 HR personnel and 2,000 employees in the UK and Ireland to collect data on the upcoming wave of job churn. Some key findings:

  • 38% of employees are looking to switch roles within the next 6 to 12 months
  • 45% of HR managers are nervous about a “talent exodus” as we return to normalcy

The ramifications can be expected to hit tech particularly hard, where pre-pandemic churn was already higher than all other industries. That’s because tech companies pay top dollar for talent, recruit aggressively, and offer attractive perks. While this data was gathered in Europe, other research suggests it’s happening all over the world.

Irregular LinkedIn Behavior

In a recent Business Insider article, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, revealed record-breaking engagement for LinkedIn. According to Nadella, it saw this in the first few months of 2021:

  • Conversations increased 43%
  • Content shared increased 29%
  • The number of hours spent learning new skills increased 80%

Why Is So Much Churn on the Horizon?

Never before have employees and tech talent had more reason to be ready for new jobs. Here are some reasons.

1. The pandemic made people stay put

The pandemic prompted employees to hunker down with their current employers. Job security became a pandemic luxury. Many employees settled in, got comfortable, and put off any thoughts of job searching.

2. Widespread career and life reflection

Never before has there been a period like this when employees could reflect on where they want to go next. Many refined their personal values and mission. Now they want careers that align with that.

3. Shifting workplace value and priorities

Others may have rethought their values and priorities, catalyzed by pandemic restrictions and new ways of working. A never-before-remote employee may have discovered she loves working from home. As employers start reintroducing in-office days, such employees may not like it. There are already plenty of examples of employees quitting over “broken remote work promises,” explains this MarketWatch article. Fortunately for such people, they’ll have options. Plenty of other employers will be keeping pandemic-related adjustments for the long haul.

4. Strong macro factors

Finally, some macro reasons are helping fuel this perfect storm of opportunity. The economy is booming, VC funding is back to pre-pandemic levels, and equities are chugging forward.

What You Can Do to Prepare for the Exodus

This “talent exodus” shouldn’t just be viewed as a threat. Rather, it may provide opportunities for well-prepared HR managers and business leaders. If your company begins to experience lots of churn, it’s not necessarily a reflection on you. Remember that this is a society-wide trend.

For now, HR managers should make “people strategy” a top priority. According to the Personio research, a whopping 39% of HR managers don’t currently prioritize this – a worryingly high number considering the state of the market.

3 Key Ways Hiring Managers Can Prepare for Churn

1. Have Your Talent Sources Prepared.

Knowing where exactly to go in order to find top talent is step one. Sure, top tech professionals may be gearing up to leave jobs, and that means they will soon be on the market. But that means nothing if you have no channel to access such people, or if you’re not set up to onboard and contract them quickly.

At 10x, we are actively adding new talent to our roster of freelance tech experts. We are finding that more and more top-level professionals are shifting away from full-time positions and opting instead to be represented by an agency like ours. We are also seeing more and more of our freelance tech talent filling roles companies can’t fill with W-2 employees. Plan now to identify where and how you will source freelancers.

2. Create a Game Plan for Recruiting

Now more than ever, it’s not enough to just post a generic job description, offer cookie-cutter compensation deals, and hope the candidate says yes. Top companies land top talent by going above and beyond. That means taking time to understand what matters to a given candidate, then customizing the offer accordingly.

Industry leader Salesforce announced this year that employees would get to choose between 3 work arrangements (one of which is 24/7 work-from-home). Not every company will make headlines for such flexibility, but every company can attract a richer talent pool through similar strategies.

3. Reevaluate Your Team or Organization’s Structure

With a wave of new talent hitting the market, are there opportunities to create new positions or restructure old roles? Now is a great time to brainstorm areas for improvement.

Consider the weak points of your organization – whether it’s a short-staffed engineering team or a long-overdue need for an in-house designer. Now is a good time to level up your talent. By mapping out potential hires or restructures, you’ll be ready to pursue the perfect candidate once they inevitably become available.

Most headlines on this topic elicit reactions of fear or worry. A talent exodus? Record-setting churn? Admittedly, it can sound pretty grim.

But there is little reason to worry for those who prepare accordingly. In fact, there’s reason to be excited. We could be in the early innings of a job market renaissance for companies that choose to make the most of it..


Michael Solomon is founder of 10x Management, a tech talent agency, and 10x Ascend, a compensation negotiation advisory service.

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