Profound upheaval to the US labor market over the past year has garnered multiple dramatic names: The Great Resignation. The Great Reshuffling. The Great Reset. No, these are not contestants in a corporate magician contest. These are attempts by industry observers to put a name to the seismic change in how people—and companies—understand the nature of work.
Each attempt to coin a new piece of business jargon tells a different story—that’s because a lot of different things are happening at once. Simultaneous to the unprecedented streak of quitting was an equally huge hiring run. That complicates the Great Resignation narrative you’ve been reading about in the news. For tech workers, a more accurate description would likely be The Great Reconsideration.
The pandemic accelerated a reassessment of core priorities that was already underway. Top tech talent wants to know: Is commuting really the best use of my time? Do I need to go to every all-hands meeting? Why be full-time when I can enjoy greater flexibility without sacrificing compensation? All of a sudden, everything is on the table.
To take a closer look at what’s really going on, we broke out 11 statistics from the latest research. It reveals an evolving set of worker preferences and the scrambling efforts of corporations to keep up.
1. Yes, it’s true, over 51 million Americans quit their jobs in the last year.
This staggering number, courtesy of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, is the result of a prolonged trend: at least 4 million workers have quit each month since July 2021, peaking at 4.5 million last November and continuing into 2022, with 4.4 million people quitting in April 2022 (the last month for which we have data, as of writing).
In short, workers have been leaving their jobs in massive numbers for a sustained amount of time. But the situation isn’t that simple. People are quitting, sure, but for many that decision isn’t just about leaving a specific job. It points to a broader change in expectations and priorities.
2. Resignation rates in tech increased by 4.5%, the highest of any industry.
While most industries have faced dramatic labor shortages of one kind or another, the tech industry faces a unique challenge: Skilled tech workers have more options than ever and they are embracing them.
Businesses in turn have had to respond by adopting more flexible policies, raising salaries, and contracting with on-demand talent platforms.
3. Private sector workers saw their wages increase by 5.1% in 2021.
The April 2022 jobs report also revealed that rank-and-file workers enjoyed an even higher 5.5% bump, which was as high as 6.7% in February. The accommodations extend beyond pay: The forced embrace of remote work in the early days of the pandemic has morphed into a permanent feature of many white-collar jobs.
4. Nearly 6 out of 10 workers who say their jobs can be done from home (59%) are working from home all or most of the time.
This comes from a February 2022 survey by the Pew Research Center, which also shows that prior to the pandemic, only 23% of those workers were teleworking frequently.
5. Among those who have a workplace outside of their home, 61% now say they are choosing not to go in.
Earlier in the pandemic, in October of 2020, that number was 36%. There are a number of reasons including increased childcare responsibilities for working parents. But the biggest reason? People like it more!
6. 76% of people prefer to work from home.
That’s up from 60% in 2020. Remote work has evolved from a necessity to a preference in a very short period of time. Nowhere is this more clear than in tech, where many of the traditional presumptions about work are being retrofitted in real time.
This shift was underway prior to the pandemic but has gathered considerable force since then. Workers in tech simply don’t need to stay in jobs that are inflexible when it comes to pay, location, or workload. The result is a hiring crisis for tech companies, who are scrambling to find a balance between building a talented staff while maintaining the bottom line.
7. 79% of CEOs are extremely or somewhat concerned over the availability of skilled workers
The level of concern jumped considerably, up from 53% in 2012. A shortage of these skills, according to the same CEOs, manifests most clearly in a lack of effective innovation, rising people costs, and a lower overall standard of quality.
For tech workers, this growing need for their skill set has coincided with a broader awakening around issues of job security, flexibility, and personal fulfillment. People want more control over their professional destiny, and that is playing out in the job decisions they are making.
Control for many equates with freelance work, which is now a cornerstone of the US economy.
8. 59 million Americans performed freelance work in the previous 12 months
That number represents 36% of the entire US workforce. This growing segment is increasingly skilled: 53% of all freelancers provided computer programming, marketing, IT, and business consulting services, and contributed $1.3 trillion to the US economy in annual earnings.
The expansion of the freelance workforce is also transforming how independent work is viewed. Once seen as equal parts autonomous and tenuous, a growing majority of independent workers now consider freelance work to be less risky and more secure than traditional employment.
9. 68% of independent workers said they feel more secure working independently than full-time
This was a dramatic increase from 2011 (32%) and 2019 (53%), according to a 2021 survey of US workers. Not only is independent contracting being viewed more favorably than ever before, but any commensurate financial hit is less of a concern than ever.
10. 44% of freelancers say they earn more freelancing than with a traditional job in 2021.
Add it all up―the popularity of remote and hybrid work, expanding freelance opportunities, a marketplace that desperately needs tech skills―and you’re in a pretty sweet situation if you’re a tech worker.
11. 90% of C-suite and frontline business leaders believe on-demand talent platforms are core to their ability to compete in the future
On-demand talent platforms connect companies with the skilled workers they need for specific projects. They allow organizations to utilize talent in a targeted manner while giving workers the flexibility and control they increasingly seek.
The pandemic shifted the playing field for workers and companies. Call it the Great Reconsideration, or whatever you like. It’s here to stay.