Stopping Resignations Depends on Mentoring, Communication

After enduring two years of a pandemic, many technologists are feeling burned out. In turn, this could drive a wave of “hidden resignations” as these valued employees leave in order to pursue other opportunities, start their own companies, or relax for a few months.

“Hidden resignations” is the term used in a new Business Insider article, which details highly skilled workers turning down six-figure raises and interesting projects because they’ve simply had enough. Throughout the country, many employees have spent far too long trying to juggle remote work, child and elder care, and the rest of their lives; they need a break. 

The article makes the point that many employees have begun to question “the validity of their career as an identity,” which means quitting to pursue opportunities that provide meaning and control. “Employees are moving away from ‘living to work’ as their guiding ethos and embracing ‘working to live,’” it states. “They want to feel connected at work and valued by their organizations in ways that transcend salary.”

More than 4.5 million workers quit their jobs in November 2021. Meanwhile, the tech unemployment rate is hovering at around 2 percent. Given the demand for tech talent, it’s natural for many technologists to reconsider their careers and what they want to do next. More entrepreneurial types might see this as the perfect opportunity to turn an idea or “side hustle” into a business, while those who want to stick with their current companies might negotiate with their current manager for increased compensation or added perks such as a more flexible schedule.

For managers and team leaders, it’s more important than ever to engage with your teams. What do your team members want out of their careers, and how can you help them achieve those milestones? What kinds of projects do they want to work on, and how can you put them in a position to do so? How can you give them more autonomy? 

Over the course of the pandemic, a significant percentage of technologists told the Dice Sentiment Report that they felt burned out, citing workload, hours worked, lack of recognition for work, and lack of challenges/monotony. More communication can help you begin to address those issues with your team, especially if many of them need a scheduling adjustment in order to feel better and deliver their best work. 

It’s also important to consider mentoring opportunities. A 2021 survey by Blind, which queries anonymous-but-verified technologists about a range of issues, found that technologists wanted mentors for a variety of reasons, including help with interpersonal skills, a better mindset, career growth, and leadership development. A manager who acts as a good mentor can convince technologists to stick with their company. A culture of mentorship and communication can help avert a wave of resignations.

“If you’re a young person interested in any area in the tech space, mentors are especially helpful in using our collective experiences—and individual experiences—in helping them navigate through the excess of information the digital age has brought,” Kristala Prather, Arthur D. Little Professor of Chemical Engineering at MIT, once told Dice. “There’s so much information today that we’re almost in information paralysis mode unless you have someone else to help guide you.”