Businessman sending and showing resignation letter to employer boss.
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Faced with the double whammy of a shortage of IT workers and a widening digital skills gap, it is critical for organizations to understand what motivates tech professionals and why they would choose to quit their jobs. New research from Jefferson Frank, an Amazon Web Services recruitment firm based in the U.K., finds numerous reasons why tech pros are quitting or planning to quit their jobs beyond a lack of salary increases.

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Why IT pros are quitting or wanting to leave their jobs

Based on this research, here are the top 10 reasons IT pros plan to change their employer within the next 12 months; the reasons are listed in order of how the answers were ranked:

  1. Lack of salary increase/earnings increase.
  2. Lack of career and promotional prospects.
  3. Need new challenges.
  4. Lack of leadership and vision.
  5. Working environment/company culture.
  6. I’m underutilized in my current role/company.
  7. Lack of exposure to the latest X products.
  8. To pursue a better work/life balance.
  9. I’m underappreciated in my current company.
  10. I’m over-stressed/overworked.

Fair compensation will always be critical, the report noted.

One surprise finding is that “57% of freelance AWS specialists would consider switching to a permanent role,” said James Lloyd-Townshend, chairman and chief executive officer of Jefferson Frank. “The world of contract work has previously been seen as such a lucrative ecosystem that leaving it behind seemed unthinkable. While those within it remain in huge demand, it’s interesting for those looking to attract professionals on a permanent basis that they are able to potentially hire from new talent pools.”

3 retention tips for tech leaders

Retention of IT staff is an issue that spans all positions and all industries, according to Lloyd-Townshend. Because tech professionals ” … have historically been in such high demand that if their current employer can’t offer what they want, there’s been a good chance someone else out there would be willing to,” Lloyd-Townshend told TechRepublic. “While that balance of power has evened itself up over the last 12 to 18 months, the culture of professionals not being afraid to move on to develop their career has remained.”

The other top reasons tech pros quit broadly fall into three categories: progression, purpose and working culture. Businesses will need to reinvigorate these elements in the hope of retaining their tech talent, the report said.

Retention tip #1: Provide career tracks

Tech professionals want clear pathways and career tracks to give them more incentive to stay with a business in the long term. This needs to include clarity around new responsibilities and initiatives at each stage to avoid any possibility of the work becoming too stale or employees feeling like they’re being underutilized, according to the report.

“Clear pathways are about being transparent on what a professional needs to take the next step in their career with you,” Lloyd-Townshend explained. “Rather than promotions being awarded without any clarity on the process, make sure people know exactly what’s required in order for them to progress.”

This might include experience in a specific area of that technology, or soft skills such as project management or presenting, he said. The important thing is knowing what’s required for employees to move up the ladder. This ” … gives you a far greater chance of a person taking those steps with you than trying to achieve their goals elsewhere,” Lloyd-Townshend said.

Retention tip #2: IT professionals want to be on the cutting edge

Organizational purpose has never been more important; professionals want to feel engaged and connected to what they’re doing. Ensuring your business is keeping up with developments in the space is essential, as tech professionals tend to want to be on the cutting edge.

Retention tip #3: Address well-being

Burnout remains a serious subject in tech, according to the study. A healthy workplace culture that considers work-life balance and stress levels must be fostered.

Lloyd-Townshend recommended making sure that ” … praise is visible across departments. A ‘well done’ email is always nice, but a shout-out during a larger call is better, as well as being able to explain to others how that person’s work matters as part of the bigger picture,” he said.

But this is something that must be embedded at the leadership level. A clear and well-communicated sense of purpose and company trajectory will radiate outward in a positive way for staff throughout a business.

These issues can’t be solved at the individual level, the study said; it requires ” … company-wide solutions that seek to prioritize well-being for its own sake rather than for purely utilitarian reasons, according to the report. Otherwise, ” … burnout will only continue to take people out of the sector.”

Additional steps companies can take

Jefferson Frank has seen companies offer volunteer days, which allow employees to take time off and contribute to local projects and causes, ” … giving them a feeling of purpose and that their company is helping them to do something that really matters,” Lloyd-Townshend said.

The process should start by listening to your staff, he said. “Your role as an employer isn’t to second guess what your employees need from you.” Leaders have a responsibility to find out, he added.


The findings are based on 607 tech professionals working across AWS, Salesforce, Microsoft 365, Azure and business applications, as well as NetSuite. Jefferson Frank is part of the Tenth Revolution Group.

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