IT Staffing Trends: How Does the Current Climate Compare to Pre-Pandemic?

A group of IT candidates in a row representing staffing trends.

Even under normal circumstances, the IT industry is in constant flux. However, the past two years were as far from normal as it gets. To avoid falling behind and dealing with major financial issues, tech companies must understand and respond to the shifting landscape and pivot to meet industry demands. To help, we’ve compiled some relevant data, statistics, and expert insights into past, current, and predicted future IT staffing trends, as well as explanations for the changes.  

Key Pandemic-Related Factors That Influenced IT Staffing Trends

IT is uniquely intertwined with nearly every other industry in one way or another. So, massive changes across the economy were bound to have a huge impact on the tech sector. The effects were both numerous and widespread. However, they all emanated from two central points.  

Telecommuting & a Shift to eCommerce & Digital/Online Services

Many pandemic changes revolved around finding online solutions for all in-person business and other pandemic-related disruptions. The pandemic wildly accelerated eCommerce adoption, causing more growth in three months than in the entire preceding decade according to data from Forrester and McKinsey.   

Companies across industries digitized every business aspect possible. Meanwhile, businesses sent all non-essential employees home. Even many of the most important essential work went digital whenever possible. All possible medical visits were handled via telehealth services, many courts conducted hearings over zoom, and even families and friends opted to meet digitally over in-person visits. IT needs increased sharply to accommodate this shift.

The Great Resignation

The second big factor was the mass exodus of employees dubbed The Great Resignation. Stagnant wages over decades left workers primed for this. From 1979 to 2020, productivity skyrocketed, increasing 61.8% while wages only rose 17.5%, meaning workers created 3.5 times more value than they received. Since costs kept rising, purchasing power sharply declined.

The pandemic gave many workers the time to find better opportunities. Heightened IT demand gave workers many new opportunities and much more leverage and negotiating power. Large swaths of IT employees explored their options and resigned when they found better jobs. Nearly a third of IT workers (31%) were looking for new jobs during a single three-month period in 2021. The shift in IT supply and demand had some profound effects on staffing trends.

Resulting IT Staffing Trends

Each of these events was a domino, each domino created a ripple effect, and the ripple effects spread out in every direction. These are some of the top IT staffing trends that resulted from this chain of events.

Remote & Flexible Work Options

Early in the pandemic, over three-fourths (77%) of US workers had transitioned to working from home full-time, compared to 9% pre-COVID. Most workers are more productive from home. One source of IT-specific data found a 12% productivity increase.

It’s better for businesses, too. Having happier, more productive remote workers means less overhead on already largely unused office space and related expenses. All of these factors encouraged most IT employers to continue letting employees work remotely part- or full-time.

High Demand Skills & Positions

Due to increased technology adoption to support the rise in remote work, telemedicine, and other digital workplace shifts, tech employees are in higher demand, but more so in some sectors than others.

Computer and information research scientists will be in high demand to help navigate and implement tech solutions. Cybersecurity and cloud technology experts will also be needed to fortify systems allowing remote work, secure telemedicine and eCommerce, and communication (33% increase expected).

Software developers, web developers, and digital designers will also be needed to create newer, better solutions across the board. eCommerce growth will also fuel higher demand for AI, ML, cloud computing, and streaming experts.

Employee Wages, Compensation, & Benefits

These changes have shifted the market and given the employees the upper hand. More employees are needed, more are leaving, and remote and flexible work has expanded worker opportunities from mostly in their local coastal cities to anywhere across the country and internationally. In fact, from just 2019 to 2020, out-of-state applicants increased by 40%.

All these factors forced employers to improve their offers to attract talent. Wages are up 20-40% and some employers are now offering 30%-40% higher salaries to attract the best tech workers. Many major tech companies have increased benefits, paid leave, and other incentives as well. Many are allowing enhanced flexibility like four-day workweeks and flexible work hours. Some are even paying top recruits to interview.

Only the best offer will entice top applicants. Since there are more jobs to fill than there are applicants, many tech companies have increased their acceptance of non-traditional education and experiences like coding boot camps and online classes, as well as accepting more self-taught employees.

Attrition Rates & Time to Fill Positions

IT always had high attrition rates. In fact, in 2018, employee turnover in the tech sector was 13.2%, higher than in any other industry. That gave them a head start before the pandemic or Great Resignation had a chance to make matters worse. Attrition rates among third-party service providers like IT and engineering have soared to 23% on average since then.

On top of needing more employees to fill the extreme spike in demand for tech workers — which is expected to grow 13.4% by 2030 — and increased turnover, time-to-hire is also on the rise. On average, the time-to-hire computer and information research scientists went up from 72 days in 2017 to 80 days in 2020.

The time to fill software developer and programmer positions went from 72 to 78 days during the same time period. For tech jobs overall, the average is 69 days, 70% longer than the average for non-tech jobs. Meanwhile, applicants in IT are experiencing a 44-day delay between submitting an application and being hired. These factors make employers more desperate for workers.

Employee Retention Tools

With more opportunities and higher wages being offered, it’s more important than ever to keep the employees you have. Despite the already staggering amount of resignations, Gartner says more than 70% of IT workers don’t have high intent to stay where they are. It usually costs far more to obtain and onboard new hires than to retain current employees.

Many companies are resisting the shift to remote and flexible work. However, since it would make 74% of workers more likely to stay and many big tech companies are offering at least partial remote work schedules, it has become necessary to compete.

Furthermore, the most common reason employees quit is a lack of career development and advancement opportunities. Between that and the need for employees with new skills, upskilling current employees has become more popular among IT employers (two-thirds) to get employees with the skills they need and retain current employees to cut costs.

Final Thoughts on IT Staffing Trends

Things have changed a lot, and it will take work to make the shift and get up to speed. Knowing where things are headed is the first step in the right direction. If you need help getting the right IT team for your needs, contact EC Group today to learn how we can help!

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