Company Culture

2 technologists share what they think is central to ‘The Great Resignation’ — better pay and remote work

Looking to hire right now, or at least retain your employees? Here's what local technologists have learned from a wave of job quits.

Getting to work. (Photo by Sora Shimazaki from Pexels; photo has been cropped)

This editorial article is a part of How to Get a Tech Job Month of's editorial calendar. This month’s theme is underwritten by Flatiron School. This story was independently reported and not reviewed by Flatiron before publication.

“The great resignation” has been used to describe the current trend of employees and jobseekers leaving their positions in the last few months of the pandemic.

Whether these tech workers are chasing higher salaries, more flexibility, remote work or promotions, they’re likely to find it in the current job market, where it’s projected that more than 240,000 new tech roles were open in 2021.

This month, two local technologists shared their own insights on this moment’s implications for the future of tech jobs. The Inquirer‘s Dain Saint, a software developer, said he doesn’t believe the great resignation is a totally accurate description of how workers are leaving their employers. It misses the point of what is really happening, he told — a labor movement. Saint said he believes the circumstances of the pandemic have allowed workers to collectively realize their power as people.

“Call it what it is — a long-overdue market adjustment,” he said. “Even if we take it as a read that capitalism is good — which is a stretch — labor is a commodity just like anything else and it is currently criminally undervalued.”

Saint knows people who worked in the service industry who have made more through pandemic unemployment assistance than they had before in their entire lives. The expectation that they go back to those jobs without a guaranteed living wage and lose their health insurance during the pandemic is incomprehensible, he said.

“We collectively watched a global catastrophe happen, while being expected to show up and turn out for capitalism as if nothing happened and receiving the bare minimum of expected care from our government. [We also received] emails from our bosses telling us to ‘take care of our mental health.’ It’s long past time for workers to realize the power they have, and this ‘resignation’ we’re seeing is just a long overdue market adjustment,” Saint said.

This attitude will likely lead to companies missing out on attracting new employees, and won’t help with retaining their current ones. Saint said he believes that this moment should compel companies to better identify with employees and provide fair financial compensation or other forms of compensation to show an investment in employees and their professional growth. Employees themselves could also be compelled to share more about their salaries to ensure they’re being paid fairly and aren’t missing out on other important perks or benefits.

“Pay your people,” he said. “If you can’t hack it financially, find other ways to compensate. We all just collectively stared our deaths in the face. People are going to want more time with the people they love [and] want to know their health is taken care of.”

Crossbeam engineering manager Daniel Singer is also watching the great resignation from inside his quickly growing company. He believes remote work is a key reason why employees are leaving their jobs.

“We’ve been able to find engineers effectively who are resigning from other companies, which is a credit to the rest of the team who are great colleagues, and the compelling story that Crossbeam has in the market right now,” he said. “The most noticeable thing for me has been the number of people who say that their current company hasn’t really committed to remote culture.”

Before the pandemic, Singer said that the option to work remotely was not a top priority for prospective tech employees. That has totally changed.

“We are getting detailed questions about how much we ‘really’ do remote [work] and candidates are clearly thinking hard about how they want to structure their work life. Many of our recent hires are folks who are prioritizing a remote work culture,” Singer said.

Michael Butler is a 2020-2022 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of The Groundtruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. This position is supported by the Lenfest Institute for Journalism.
Companies: The Philadelphia Inquirer / Crossbeam

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