The Great Resignation: how it’s affecting the AWS community (and what you can do about it!)

By Danny Aspinall

The Great Resignation in AWS

Americans are quitting their jobs at the highest rate on record.

This trend has been labeled the Great Resignation, and first emerged as far back as April 2020. Just one month after the introduction of lockdown in the United States, workers began re-evaluating their relationship with their job, placing more emphasis on job satisfaction, work-life balance, and job flexibility.

The Washington Post tracked this phenomenon across the pandemic, reporting a peak in August 2021 with 4.3m Americans (2.9% of the entire workforce) quitting in a single month.

graph showing americans are quitting their jobs

According to PWC’s Global Workforce Hopes and Fears Survey 2022, this trend only looks set to continue, with a further one in five planning to quit their jobs in 2022.

While no industry escaped unscathed, the Great Resignation hit the tech industry hard. Gartner’s analysis found that 31% of workers in the IT sector actively sought out a new job between July and September in 2021 – the highest rate of any industry. Further research from Gartner found that only 29% of global tech talent had a “high intent” to stay in their roles throughout the Great Resignation, with that figure falling to 16% of tech talent aged between 19 and 29.

As a result, this shift has also caused waves in the Amazon Web Services (AWS) community. The Jefferson Frank Careers and Hiring Guide: AWS Edition found that less than half (42%) of respondents in permanent roles expect to be working for their current employer in the coming year, with 24% actively looking for a new role.

But where is the best AWS talent going and how can employers attract and retain the skilled professionals they need? Here, we’re exploring the true cost of the Great Resignation in the tech industry and AWS community by investigating its role in accelerating the AWS talent crisis and creating an ultra-competitive employer market.

Professionals are reassessing their job satisfaction  

Amidst all the uncertainty and unfamiliarity of the pandemic and global lockdowns, many workers became more introspective. They began reflecting on their priorities, placing a higher value on happiness, fulfillment, and recreation. For many professionals, this also meant reassessing their relationship with work.  

When studying the impacts of the Great Resignation in tech, Associate Professor of Management at Texas A&M University, Anthony C. Klotz, observed that “people now expect more from their professional lives, and they want ‘line of sign’ between their work and the outcomes that matter to them.”  

In our Careers and Hiring Guide, just 64% of respondents working within the AWS community reported having overall job satisfaction. But what does job satisfaction look like for AWS professionals?  

Work-life balance 

The obvious place to start is by analyzing work-life balance. Of the AWS professionals in permanent roles, 43% of respondents reported experiencing burnout during COVID-19, up from 37% before the pandemic.  

Defined by exhaustion, cynicism, and inefficacy, or the stress that’s generated by being in a constant state of busyness, overworking AWS talent to the point of burnout has led many professionals to reconsider their role in the pursuit of a less intense working environment.  

Remote and flexible working 

Throughout the pandemic, 82% of employers with AWS talent offered full-time remote working, compared with just 24% before COVID-19.  

Many professionals enjoyed this new found freedom and flexibility, with 82% of AWS talent telling us that the ability to work remotely remains influential in their overall job satisfaction. So much so, that 45% of those looking to leave their employer within 12 months said they would be unlikely to accept a role that involved working in an office five days a week. 

Progression opportunities  

A final determining factor in workers’ job satisfaction is the career and promotional opportunities available to them. While the importance of progression can easily be overlooked, a significant 52% of AWS professionals told us that a lack of career and promotional opportunities would motivate them to consider a new role.  

With the Great Resignation opening doors to ample new opportunities in tech, the best AWS talent is reassessing whether their current role equips them with the training, learning and development (L&D) opportunities they need to satisfy their career ambitions.  

Our Careers and Hiring Guide found that other factors impacting job satisfaction and motivating employees to leave include: 

  • Lack of salary increase (52%)   
  • Need for new challenges (40%)  
  • Being underutilized (33%)  
  • Poor working environment/company culture (31%)  
  • Being underappreciated (26%) 

Professionals are exploring more opportunities   

Of course, skilled tech professionals aren’t just resigning – they’re going elsewhere. It’s for this reason that some prefer to label the Great Resignation as the Great Reshuffle. But if talent is moving across the tech sector and AWS ecosystem, where exactly are they going? 

The cloud skills gap and the rapid uptake of AWS was already causing an imbalance in the supply and demand of AWS talent. The Great Resignation has only accelerated this problem, overwhelming professionals with a whole host of new positions consistently opening up across the tech sector and AWS space. 

With the number of opportunities far outweighing the number of skilled professionals on the market, AWS talent has the privilege of exploring all avenues before deciding on which path is right for them. This means talent isn’t necessarily sticking with what they know; end-user workers are moving to partner organizations, partner employees and moving to end-users, and permanent professionals are making the switch to freelance and contractor work.  

In our Careers and Hiring Guide, we found that almost two-thirds (65%) of partner employees would consider working for an end user, with the most common reasons for doing so being for a better work-life balance (56%) and the ability to work remotely (54%), and better job stability (42%).  

The promise of a better work-life balance is the top reason AWS professionals currently employed by a partner would consider moving to a role with an AWS end user, again highlighting how the Great Resignation has spurred a shift in the priorities of tech talent. This is understandable, too. While taking on the fast-paced, client-facing work typically involved in role at a partner can equate to a higher salary, it can also mean longer hours and frequent travel to client sites.  

On the flip side, three-fifths (64%) of end user employees that responded to our survey would consider working for a AWS partner. Factors cited as most likely to attract end user employees to a role with a partner include a higher earning potential (80%), professional development (72%) and the ability to work on a diverse range of projects (62%). 

Lastly, just over a third (36%) of permanent professionals tell us that they would consider switching to freelance/contract work within 12 months, with reasons including flexibility in lifestyle (56%), exposure to the latest technology (44%) and the ability to be your own boss (36%). 

With a variety of motivators turning talent’s heads across the AWS community, we see how AWS professionals can leverage the Great Resignation and cloud skills gap to get more out of each opportunity they’re offered. 

Employers are battling for the best 

You’d be forgiven for assuming the Great Resignation in tech is great news for organizations looking to hire and expand a technical team of specialists. After all, the more talent that resigns from other positions, the more talent available on the market – right? Not exactly.  

The cloud skills gap means that, even with record numbers of professionals leaving their current roles, the demand for specialist AWS professionals still far outweighs the supply. As long as this is the case, the AWS employer market will remain ultra-competitive, especially when there’s the prospect of top talent on the move.  

As a result, employers are battling to attract the most skilled and experienced professionals on the market. This has led to many employers offering a range of additional perks and benefits in a bid to incentivize and attract in-demand talent, including four or more weeks of paid time off (36%), monthly/bi-annual/year-end bonuses (32%) and flexible working hours (23%). 

These incentives can often be effective in attracting talent, too. In fact, 85% of permanent employees reported that workplace benefits are important when deciding whether they will accept a job.   

That being said, as our Careers and Hiring Guide has shown, although pay isn’t the be-all and end-all for candidates searching for a new job, it still holds important weight in decisions about whether to accept a job or not. 

This is reflected in the salaries being offered to in-demand talent. As employers outbid one another, AWS professionals come out on top, with 76% of those who move into a new role receiving a pay increase. On average, this salary rise amounts to a significant 25%.  

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So what can you do about it? 

Coming out on the right side of the Great Resignation requires employers to understand how to attract and retain the best AWS talent 

This starts with organizations looking inwards. Protect your current assets by taking the time to understand what motivates talent to leave, and offering counter incentives to keep your current team satisfied in their positions.  

To do this, focus on three main areas: job satisfaction, perks and benefits, and salary.  

The aim is to remain as competitive as possible to mitigate the risk of valuable technical staff looking elsewhere. For example, 62% of respondents in our Careers and Hiring Guide received a pay rise since the start of the pandemic, despite 48% of these respondents not receiving a promotion. Instead, 44% of those working for end users and 67% of those working for partner organizations attributed their pay increase to their employers wanting to keep their talent and recognizing that the increased demand for AWS professionals had upped their market value.  

Additionally, you need to know the most effective ways of attracting new talent on the job hunt after a resignation. If you’ve successfully retained your current AWS talent with the right incentives, it’s likely that you’ll be ticking the boxes for prospective hires too, so be sure to shout loudly about what makes your organization the right pick.  

This being said, we have some bad news for you: you’re not the only employer in the race for AWS professionals. So, one way to successfully navigate the Great Resignation in the tech industry is to reimagine your hiring strategies, placing a greater emphasis on improving diversity and inclusion in your AWS business – an area in which the AWS community and tech sector currently fall short.  

Rather than dipping into the same talent pool and competing for the same short supply of specialists time and time again, consider broadening your horizons by valuing equality as much as experience. This will open the doors for a whole wave of untapped talent yet to be given their opportunity, enabling you to mitigate the risks posed by the Great Resignation with a technical team and hiring strategy that ensures longevity and sustainability.  

Of course, you also need to know where to find skilled AWS professionals, and that’s where we come in. Browse our current list of AWS talent today, or submit your job vacancy to be matched with the best candidates for your organization.  

The ultimate resource on careers and hiring trends in the AWS ecosystem.

The Jefferson Frank Careers and Hiring Guide: AWS Edition provides a unique insight into the Amazon Web Services community.

Download the guide

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