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CIO Confidential: The Great Resignation

There is no doubt we are in a talent-driven market and other organizations, recruiters, headhunters and the like are coming after our most valued resource, our people. In what some have labeled The Great Resignation, many argue that not only our A players are at risk but our B and C players as well. Call it a market adjustment, an after effect of the pandemic, or evolving employee expectations; forward-thinking leaders must tackle this issue head-on or put their organization and goals at risk.

In a recent CIO Roundtable, members of the CIO Professional Network weighed in on the topic of The Great Resignation. Comments have been edited for clarity and confidentiality.

  • This is a major issue that will take time and effort to navigate, and it doesn’t look like it will be solved anytime soon. I’m not trying to sound negative, just realistic. During chaos there’s opportunity. Just a matter how you look at the situation.
  • I recently attended a CIO dinner with a few dozen technology executives and the Great Resignation was a hot topic discussed at length. It was clear that the other CIOs at the table were still trying to figure out a way forward. Some organizations in the room had not decided if the new work policy would be an entirely work from home model, hybrid, or back to “old normal” with an entirely work from the office model.
  • Frankly, I was more concerned about this issue a month ago when a couple of my long-term employees left the organization. Things seem to have stabilized in my department. However, we have a strict one-day work-from-home policy that some aren’t happy with. I wish that our organization was willing to implement more of a hybrid model.
  • A colleague of mine recently shared that their company’s work from home policy was just enough uncertainty for one of his staff to resign and join a company that announced an entirely work from home model. His statement was, “how do you compete for qualified employees when the rules have dramatically changed, and the employees are now making the rules individually?”
  • This has been a critical issue to me for many years. And yes, it concerns and frequently impacts the organization I’m running.
  • On the positive side, I have seen opportunities to bring on people that had quit their jobs at other organizations. The talent we have hired to replace the people that have left has been outstanding. I don’t see a lot online about opportunities to hire those participating in the great resignation. I see this as an opportunity to create a positive workplace that can attract people looking to do something new.
  • Yes, I am concerned. We have uncertainty and questions that are impacting teams and we have to continually check with team members. We are also struggling with hiring at times since most roles are hybrid, not 100% remote. To mitigate, we are focusing on development and training of teams, continually listening, creating individual development plans, and continually communicating.
  • In many ways, this is no different than any other time. It is true that it is a significant change of expectations by employees. However, the basic leadership activities can be the same: listen, listen, listen; communicate, communicate, communicate. I do agree that if an organization has not yet set policies that meet employee expectations that you may lose talent. If that is a risk, then you need to stay close to employees and work hard to help them work through uncertainty and assure them that you have their back and will take care of them.

Keeping our top performers, creating a strong company culture, attracting transformational talent, and building a high-performing organization is a key priority for top CIOs, CTOs, and CISOs. Granted, this is a challenge in ordinary times. However, recent events, a candidate-driven market, and a major shift in employee expectations should make this a top priority for technology executives for some time to come.

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