Talent Turmoil: Why Three in Four UK Techies Are Dissatisfied at Work

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Three in four tech workers dissatisfied at work

Over three-quarters of tech talent in the UK are unhappy in their current jobs and actively searching for new roles. 

That’s according to Hackajob’s What Do Tech Talent Want in 2023 report, which surveyed over 1,000 UK tech workers about their current positions and their perspective on today’s jobs landscape.

Just 11 per cent of those surveyed were content in their current position, Hackajob revealed, while 77 per cent were actively looking for new job opportunities in other companies. 

The report also found a notable disparity between what UK employers are positioning as benefits and perks to attract and retain talent, and what talent actually wants. 

“With former perks such as flexible working now being seen as the norm, many companies are seemingly struggling to figure out what the new era of benefits means for their business,” Mark Chaffey, CEO and co-founder of Hackajob said. 

“The gap between what companies are offering, and what tech workers want is causing unrest at a time when there’s no shortage of alternative job openings out there.”

Remote working remains one of the key aspects tech talent enjoy about their current jobs, with 61 per cent of respondents calling the work model the most important perk at their job, ranking far above tech stack at 34 per cent, benefits at 25 per cent and the location at 21 per cent. 

That is despite the number of companies offering fully-remote plumettig. Adverts for remote working jobs have dropped month by month since the pandemic, with just 7 per cent of UK firms advertising fully-remote roles in October 2022, a third lower than at the start of the year. 

Company culture is king

After compensation, respondents named overall culture and mission as the two most significant factors attracting them to new companies and roles.  

When it comes to attracting, engaging and retaining tech talent, the report also noted that 83 per cent of tech talent would move to a company where a 4-day week had been introduced. 

EM360-partnered Analyst and HR Tech Advisor Barry Flack said that Hackajob’s findings reflect the current transitionary state of work that business leaders are failing to understand. 

“From a long-term structural perspective, we are still in the process of leaving behind the old deal of work – 9 to 5, Monday to Friday and a salary in exchange for a productivity/output to a new paradigm that hasn’t quite settled, namely the atypical working, relationship with AI, location agnostic and what is the employee: employer relationship", Mr Flack told EM360. 

“Perspectives have fundamentally changed from generations past and today’s workforce, which, incapable of reaching the secure heights of their parents, is just less bound to one organisation for a lengthy period That employment deal has also taken a shock for many as we moved from a period of ‘we’re in this together’ pandemic survival to slow growth where both redundancies are a fact of life and high cost of living a reality.

"In these circumstances, the so-called ‘perfect storm’ means that many employers are reverting to the kind of things that are the complete opposite of what many tech workers want, driving an unnecessary toxic culture.

"This manifests itself in: a bullish return to the office policy in the hope that it drives greater productivity, commanded, and not discussed; the reduction of perks that drove many cultures attractiveness in the face of the commercial downturn and a real stress test for founders and CEOs; and firms moving from a period of growth to contraction and realignment rather clumsily, believing that technology produces the medium for delivering tough messages to their workforce.”

Listen to your workers!

To properly attract and retain tech talent, Mr Flack urges business leaders to listen to their workers before implementing initiatives that do not reflect the needs of the tech workforce. 

"The antidote to turning this around is a measured, participative culture that treats the workforce with maturity, doesn’t dumb down on command and control measures and works through structural issues in the business model with a view to what works in their context," Mr Flack said.

“This is not a time for meaningless employer branding pap but one where a demonstrable and actionable approach to empathising with what this means to employees will stand the business in good stead as slow growth replaces hypergrowth in the Tech space." 

Chaffey agrees. In response to the survey’s findings, he said that companies to nail their Employer Value Proposition – what their organisation offers that is different to anyone else. 

“The best benefits package really hones in on what is valuable to people. Crucially, perks shouldn’t all focus on the workplace itself.”

“Tech talent want to spend their free time either exercising, spending time with their family and friends, working on a project or hobby and progressing their learning and development. The best benefits package will empower talent to have free time to do whatever they choose.”

Tech layoffs don’t mean less hiring

Despite the recent layoffs across Big Tech, the report notes that competition for tech talent will continue as companies from non-tech sectors embark on their digitalisation journey. 

“It’s easy to think that the tech layoffs that happened in late 2022 and early 2023 have stilled the waters in tech hiring, but this couldn’t be further from the truth, Chaffey said. 

To read more about the tech layoffs, visit our dedicated Business Agility Page.

“Whilst many companies such as Amazon, Google, Meta and Microsoft have made several adjustments to their staff, many more “non-tech” organisations are still gearing up to make more tech hires than ever before as every company turns to technology as a critical part of their overall business strategy.

In order to truly attract tech talent, Chaffey notes that companies must look beyond salary if they wish to attract top talent in the continued tech talent shortage

“Quite simply, there are still plenty of organisations hiring, and now many more people searching for new roles. Whilst salary will always be key to any tech job seeker, it is crucial that companies look outside of just remuneration in order to retain the tech talent they already have.

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