Big Quit Hits IT

July, 2022

In recent years, turnover has been low and steady among IT organizations. So when the “Big Quit” started to make headlines, the perception was that it was primarily led by lower-paid, less-educated workers looking for better pay. But as the headlines started referring to the “Big Quit” as the “Great Resignation,” it became clear that all types of employees in all types of jobs were packing up and leaving. Employees, driven by a combination of inflation, a need for more flexible or safer work environments, better work-life balance, the expense of childcare, and other personal reasons, were on the market for different job opportunities—even in IT.

As shown in Figure 1-14 from the free executive summary of our IT Spending and Staffing Benchmarks 2022/2023 study, at the median turnover in IT departments was 5.5% in 2022 compared with only 2.0% in 2021. Even before the economic disruption brought on by the pandemic, which likely resulted in people hanging onto their jobs in 2021, turnover in IT departments hovered around 3.0%. Some sectors, including retail, IT services and solutions, and industrial and automotive approached 10%.

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The reasons for any employee quitting his or her job are personal and varied. And discussing them specifically can get overly political. However, some common issues around salary and safe, flexible work conditions were likely at the heart of it. The COVID-19 pandemic shifted consumer and worker behavior toward doing more from home and taking advantage of digital tools.

The reasons are less important than the impact, however. High turnover has significant costs both in hard dollars and in more intangible ways. Recruiting and training new staff is expensive, particularly with a shortage of talent and inflation causing salaries to rise. But the loss of institutional memory, particularly in the maintenance of legacy systems, can have an even greater impact. Loss of co-workers also affects the morale of those who remain. And worst yet, a loss of key leaders or top performers can reverberate for years, as the IT organization struggles to replace the leadership role of those top people.

“IT leaders should be proactive in retaining top talent,” said David Wagner, senior research director at Computer Economics, a service of Avasant Research, based in Los Angeles. “While the current economic uncertainty may have slowed the ‘Big Quit,’ the underlying reasons have not been addressed. Identify top performers and address their needs before they are tempted to walk out the door.”

The Computer Economics IT Spending and Staffing Benchmarks 2022/2023 study is based on a detailed survey of more than 225 IT executives in the US and Canada on their IT spending and staffing plans for 2022/2023. The study provides IT spending and staffing benchmarks for small, midsize, and large organizations and for 29 sectors and subsectors. A description of the study’s metrics, design, demographics, and methodology can be found in the free executive summary.

This Research Byte is a brief overview of the findings in our report, IT Spending and Staffing Benchmarks 2022/2023. The full 32-chapter report is available at no charge for Avasamt Research clients. Individual chapters may be purchased by non-clients directly from our website (click for pricing).