According to the US Bureau of Statistics, millions of American professionals have been quitting their jobs seemingly out of nowhere over the past few months, with over 4 million resignations in July 2021. In contrast to the Depression in the 1920s a hundred years ago, this exodus of workers has now cleverly been dubbed ‘The Great Resignation’.
But what exactly is causing The Great Resignation? And what will be the full impact of American industries like software development losing a large portion of their skilled professionals? We’ll be exploring the answers to these questions below.
Industries most impacted
There are some industries that have been disproportionately impacted by The Great Resignation, with the majority of these being industries that were already experiencing a stark skill shortage prior to July of 2021. One of the most notable industries impacted is North America’s software development and tech industries.
Computer programmers and app developers have been working flat out through the COVID-19 pandemic, providing digital infrastructures to cater to the globe’s unique needs throughout prolonged lockdowns. A startling amount of labour is required when it comes to getting iPhone app development done, in particular.
The need to rapidly provide digital resources and applications designed to essentially keep the global economy afloat naturally left app developers feeling incredibly fatigued, which prompted many to leave their jobs once the storm had subsided.
Is everyone resigning?
A mass resignation of app developers and programmers wasn’t just isolated to the U.S. alone, however. There are reports that 83% of UK-based developers experienced feelings of burnout that were only exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. As the demand for skilled developers skyrocketed around the same time countries across the world were heading into lockdown in 2020, this unprecedented influx of work also coincided with a rapid shift to working from home, which limited workplaces from being able to offer support to development teams during a time of great volatility. This led to a similar mass resignation of developers in the UK across early 2021.
Despite both the US and UK experiencing a loss of skilled professionals following the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, other countries like Australia have contrastingly been reporting drastically lower rates of job switching. There may be a few explanations here, one of which includes the fact that Australia’s development industry is still establishing itself when compared to the US. Another explanation is that reform of the working week has provided Australian professionals with the opportunity to take control of their work/life balance in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Whilst it’s still being disputed by economic analysts as to whether or not the resignation of workers across the US has definitively rubbed off on the rest of the world, there is no denying that the entire globe is feeling the impacts of this phenomenon, even if it’s only a select demographic of workers that are necessarily partaking in the mass resignation themselves.
Should we redesign the workweek?
Although the pandemic and its impacts on the traditional workweek did play a major role in the development of The Great Resignation, discussion surrounding the need to redesign the workweek does predate the COVID-19 pandemic.
Over the last decade, there has been substantial criticism of the 40-hour workweek, with a growing majority of professionals across the globe embracing the concept of the 4-day work week as opposed to the traditional 9-5 from Monday to Friday. The justification behind the 4-day workweek is rooted in the rapid globalisation of industry, and the immense impact that modern technologies have held on productivity in the workplace.
As global industry continues to experience rapid digitalisation during and following the pandemic, many workplaces have been trialling hybrid working from home models for their workforce, alongside a 4-day work week, or a 5-day week with 6 hour days as opposed to 8 hour days.
Paving the way for a globalised workforce
So how has The Great Resignation impacted software developers working in Asia, Africa and Oceania? In actuality, the mass resignation of app developers and programmers in the UK and US have naturally created an abundance of remote work opportunities for developers working in other countries.
Many tech conglomerates like Facebook and Google have already fostered public perceptions of themselves as rootless corporations, with offices in every corner of the globe, and large-scale development projects that are conducted at an international scale, with a scattered yet focused workforce.
These opportunities to work remotely are also being taken advantage of by developers who participated in The Great Resignation as well. The unique opportunities that accompany remote work are prompting many professionals from a plethora of industries to embrace the concept of the globalized workforce.
The solution to burnout seems not to be a “one-size-fits-all”-type deal, especially not in this transitional phase from a pre-COVID to a post-COVID global economy. The mass resignation of software developers has naturally heralded a need for employers to turn their attention towards ensuring that their workforce feels empowered to discover the unique construction of their own work/life balance.
It’s likely that residual effects of The Great Resignation will continue to be experienced, both in the US as well as abroad. This may also take the form of skill shortages in select industries and a more decided push towards outsourcing work to remote professionals rather than in-house teams.