Even with a tech recession continuing to impact the broader economy, many U.S. tech professionals are not planning to stay with their current employers. In its annual Tech Sentiment Report, tech career marketplace Dice reports that nearly one-third of technology professionals are actively searching for a new job, and 60% are considering changing employers within the next year. With a 2.2% tech unemployment rate—well below the national average of 3.8%—these job seekers know they still have room to negotiate for the benefits and salaries they want, especially if they are proficient in high-demand skills or experienced in popular tech roles.
“Tech professionals are a very resilient group of people, and the results from our Tech Sentiment Report show both their strength of character and an understanding of their position in the market right now,” said Art Zeile, chief executive officer at Dice. “Yes, we are in the midst of what I call a tech recession, in that tech is being adversely affected while other areas are experiencing a faster recovery. But demand remains high for tech professionals who have the skills to help companies with tech infrastructure, engineering in all of its many uses, cybersecurity, and data science and management; companies simply can’t afford not to employ them. Tech professionals know they’re in demand, so they’re continuing to search for environments that are right for them, and that means the right cultures and values, the right kinds of work, and the right benefits based on their unique needs and wants.”
The 2023 Tech Sentiment Report includes data and analysis on flexibility and remote work satisfaction, salary transparency expectations, and the importance of employer brand. Here are a few of the key takeaways.
A Continued Demand for Balance and Flexibility
Tech professionals know the specialized, in-demand roles they fill, and they will continue to expect flexibility from their companies. Work-life balance is critical, and for many tech professionals, it didn’t improve over the past year. Nearly 63% of respondents said their work-life balance hasn’t improved since last year, an increase from 56% in 2022.
That dissatisfaction could be tied to many companies’ return-to-office mandates. Although six in 10 of the tech professionals surveyed reported being very satisfied with their current remote working status, many organizations are trying different tactics to entice their employees to return to the office. Approximately 73% of respondents said that it’s “extremely” or “very” important to have the opportunity to worm remotely at least three days per week with their next role or organization.
“Employers can’t pretend that successful remote work environments and a focus on better work-life balance haven’t been prevalent in the past few years,” Zeile said. “You can’t put the changes in work culture back in the box and still hope to attract top tech candidates. The skilled tech professionals that companies want to hire don’t want to be in the office ‘9-to-5, five days a week,’ regardless of whether executives want them to fit that mold.”
One markedly different finding this year is the number of employers who are likely to implement a four-day workweek. About 65% of HR professionals surveyed said they are very or extremely likely to shift to a four-day model in the next year, compared to just 38% who said the same last year. This large jump could be tied to a push for four days in other industries, most notably playing out in the auto industry.
Recruiters and Hiring Managers Must Improve the Candidate Experience
A majority of the tech professionals who participated in the survey expressed optimism about the growth of the profession. However, many are dissatisfied with their experience as candidates and employees.
While an increasing number of states have enacted salary transparency laws, companies hiring in states that don’t require it should still disclose the pay range to attract skilled applicants—two-thirds of this year’s respondents said they are discouraged from applying to jobs that don’t disclose salary information. Even so, only 44% of HR professional respondents said all their job posts disclose salary information. For many tech professionals, a company’s salary transparency is a key indicator of its commitment to pay equity; 63% said a lack of salary transparency is a signal that a company is not committed to pay equity.
Tech professionals also consider an employer’s brand and reputation to be extremely important when considering whether to work for that organization. As with last year’s report, nearly nine in 10 tech professional respondents said a company’s brand—a combination of company culture, corporate reputation, product and purpose, and commitment to DEIB—is important when looking for a new employer.
More than 80% of tech professional respondents said corporate culture is the most important component of a company’s brand; 72% said they would not apply for a higher-paying role at a company with a bad reputation.
A good sign for recruiting and hiring efforts is that more HR professionals recognize the importance of a good employer brand, with more than eight in 10 indicating their reputation as a company is “extremely” or “very” effective at influencing candidates to join their organization.
How Companies Can Plan for 2024 and Beyond
The emergence of generative AI and similar technologies has many worried about whether their jobs will disappear altogether in the years ahead, but for 2024, tech professionals still seem to be optimistic about the value they bring to an organization.
It’s impossible to pinpoint a single reason behind the high percentage of tech professionals who want to change companies. Factors such as changing mindsets from the pandemic, the prioritization of flexible work, and fear of impending layoffs amid economic uncertainty likely all play a role.
One thing that’s clear: From both a hiring and retention perspective, it’s more important than ever for employers to prioritize strong candidate experiences.