How CIOs can navigate the Great Resignation

How CIOs can navigate the Great Resignation
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  • 86% of employees have plans to resign in next six months in India, as per a Michael Page report
  • Digital transformation-related IT skill shortages will affect 90% of global enterprises by 2025-IDC
  • CIOs must focus on employee engagement and reskilling to address the challenge
COVID-19 has changed the nature of work forever. Things that were once considered privileges – like flexible working hours or the ability to work from anywhere on any device – are becoming the new normal.

Along with these tectonic changes came the least-anticipated Great Resignation – the phenomenon that describes large numbers of workers leaving their jobs in the post-pandemic era. The term, coined by Professor Anthony Klotz of Texas A&M University, has become a major concern for every CXO in the world.

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Overstressed employees and the leaders’ inability to empathise with their employees are contributing to this mass work exodus.

As the trend continues well into this year, one in five workers globally are planning to quit in 2022, according to PwC’s Global Workforce Hopes and Fears Survey of more than 52,000 workers across 44 countries and territories. Pay was held to be the main factor that decides a change in job, with 71% employees in the survey indicating that they expect to be ‘fairly rewarded financially’ for the work they do. But there is certainly more to it than that.

What does it mean for tech leaders?

Right from the onset of the Great Resignation, tech and healthcare industries have been witnessing the highest levels of attrition. This, coupled with the latest figures on attrition – about 86% of people are planning to resign in the next six months in India, according to a report by recruitment agency Michael Page, – it’s evident that we are going to see the Great Resignation in all its intensity in 2022.

The key reason for this trend, according to the Michael Page report, is how employees are re-evaluating what constitutes quality work, and they want it to be purposeful. A significant 61% of respondents in India are willing to accept a lower salary or forgo pay rise and/or promotion for better work-life balance, overall well-being and happiness.

For the chief information officers (CIOs) who are in charge of leading ambitious digital transformation initiatives for their organisations, this presents unprecedented challenges. Several CIOs are already reporting that they find it increasingly difficult to attract and retain skilled developers needed to drive digital transformation (DX). DX-related IT skill shortages will affect 90% of global enterprises by 2025, according to IDC.

Hiring and retaining workers was cited as the second-biggest challenge by CIOs in 2022, while it was not even among the top 4 till 2021, according to a SAPinsider survey. CIOs must now work with fewer resources to meet their strategic goals around digital transformation, innovation and agility. Worse still, this throws teams into another vicious cycle of employee burnout and dissatisfaction.

The way forward

If CIOs are to succeed in retaining talent, it’s time to relook at strategies. Most employees are looking at exciting and fulfilling roles and holistic work culture, with fair pay being the foundation. Tech leaders who have been successful in managing talent are focusing on offering more flexibility, improving employee engagement and training/upskilling existing team members. Working closely with employees with niche skills, who are more likely to quit, helps them retain critical talent in the long run.

The most important thing to do, according to Olly Riches, senior managing director at Michael Page, is to entice talent passion. “...Candidates are increasingly less interested in moving within the same industry and more interested in new ideas, beyond their current role, department and industry even. There’s a hesitancy to simply change business cards for a 20% increase. Which is good news — if they’re going to move, it needs to be very, very enticing in order to take that leap. But that puts the onus on their current employer to entice them through passion,” he says.

Sharath Srinivasamurthy, research director at IDC, believes that solving the skills equation has become a C-suite issue, and Indian enterprises are moving to create a culture of continuous learning and collaboration that will support their digital resiliency efforts in the future.


Clearly, employees in the tech sector are in an advantageous position, with a clear understanding of their potentials and future options. The onus is on the CXOs to change their focus and create a win-win situation.