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Who is driving the Great Resignation? Mid-career tech workers

If company leaders aren’t paying attention, you may still lose more prized employees. The Great Resignation is becoming the Great Mismatch, and a game of musical chairs.

Why will anyone take your open seat? (Photo by Flicker user text ">David Maddison)

Written by Technically Media CEO Chris Wink,’s Culture Builder newsletter features tips on growing powerful teams and dynamic workplaces. Below is the latest edition we published. Sign up here to get the next one this Friday.

A seasoned UX designer and developer told me in confidence that she’s planning to leave her current role.

After 18 months of remote work, her current company announced their post-Labor Day plans: a required three days a week in office. She lives in a city neighborhood she loves and loathes the idea of returning to the arduous reverse commute she had before the pandemic. She’s speeding her search for a distributed company with work that aligns with her values.

When she does, the opening she creates will contribute to a massive hole. In July, the U.S. economy had nearly 11 million job openings — the highest number on record. Another four million people quit their jobs, which was an even higher total than earlier this year, when a high quit rate was coined as the Great Resignation. Millions of Americans are changing jobs into new roles and even careers into new industries. More to the point, the people who are most driving the Great Resignation are mid-career tech pros aged 30 to 45. Yes, this is still happening.

Company leaders must decide what office requirements are best for their organizations. Nothing strange there, but I do wonder if they’re making a hard stance for the right reasons. HR pros like to say replacing an employee costs as much as two times a person’s salary. Given that UX role searches grew nearly 300% year over year, and analysts predict demand will continue growing for senior, high-caliber professionals like her, this might be a costlier policy than her employer realizes.

You’ve heard enough about the Great Resignation already. I get that. Increasingly though, the Great Resignation is becoming a dramatic employment mismatch at an historical scale. The pandemic forced most of us into entirely different working patterns — more than two-thirds of American employees were working remotely at the peak last spring. We developed new habits and found new priorities. Many of us were blessed to develop better working conditions than we had before the pandemic. Most do want some office time. Many don’t.

Survey your staff if you haven’t. Speak openly and encourage your fellow managers to do the same. Listen. In this big game of musical chairs, the music is still going for many professionals and employers may be assuming everyone left is returning to the same seat. Surveys and BLS data, plus the stories of countless tech pros, tell a different story. Why will anyone take your open seat?

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