Ask HN: How is the Great Resignation affecting your company?

55 points | by ferdowsi 14 days ago

15 comments

  • Keetron 13 days ago
    The biggest surprise for me in the current market is how employers and companies are complaining about the lack of skilled people but are unwilling to shift their own behavior to become more desirable to workers.

    For example, they ask for a Sr Developer that ticks all the boxes and needs to come into the office in the inner city in a European capitol every day of the work week. The compensation is meh and not substantially different from any other company out there.

    So the great resignation is hitting those that fail to realize wages need to go up to attract talent especially in the light of the growing wealth of the 1%. Pay well and substantially more than your competitors and people will be more reluctant to leave for greener pastures. The ability to work from home once in a while is not a favor handed to those that behave well, it is the other way around: I'll come in if there is a clear need for me to be there and do not expect me to wear noise cancelling headphones to try and concentrate on coding in an open office. Finally, grow your own skilled and experienced people, you had years to develop a pipeline of less experienced engineers. The complaint: "I train people just for them to leave" is stupid, ask yourself and them WHY they leave and then up your incentives.

    But anyway, I am leaving a team in a week, there is no replacement for me and development on this component will basically halt as there is nobody else in the company that can do the work I did as those people are all busy on other things. Product Management is pulling out their hair as to how it could be this way and when I try to explain their continuous push for functionality over maintainable code they ask me how I would fix that. There is never a technological fix for cultural problems so yeah, I left.

    • sbacic 13 days ago
      > The biggest surprise for me in the current market is how employers and companies are complaining about the lack of skilled people but are unwilling to shift their own behavior to become more desirable to workers.

      I don't think it's really surprising - what makes sense for the business does not necessarily make sense for the middle management writing the hiring requirements. Bob doesn't want to deal with remote subordinates because he has no idea how to. He also doesn't want to hire outside the US because he's never done it before and doesn't want to learn.

      Of course, Bob isn't going to go to _his_ supervisor and say all this - that would be career suicide. So we get all sorts of silly excuses about why they need people in the office or only hire from X country.

      And all that is going to persist until people like Bob are forced to adapt or lose their jobs. The real question is this though: how much are developer salaries inflated because of stupid, self-serving requirements from people like Bob?

      • giantg2 13 days ago
        It also seems that companies don't want to train people. Everyone wants people that are seniors and experts in all the technologies.
        • Viliam1234 13 days ago
          Everyone should be a full-stack developer, so the company only needs to hire one developer per project. Or maybe one developer for multiple projects.

          Maybe one day, the typical software company structure will be an inverse pyramid, with one developer at the bottom, and hundreds of managers on top of them. That would certainly solve the problem with shortage of skilled developers.

        • lfxyz 12 days ago
          > The complaint: "I train people just for them to leave" is stupid, ask yourself and them WHY they leave and then up your incentives.

          Also worth considering: what if you don't train them and they stay?!

          • sdevonoes 13 days ago
            > The biggest surprise for me in the current market is how employers and companies are complaining about the lack of skilled people [...]

            They do complain about that, but would anyone agree with such statements? I do participate in tech interviews in my current company and we get tons of applicants. Now, sure, the company I work for is raising the bar every year and is only looking for "the best of the best" (honestly, we don't need that, we are an average tech company). I don't think there is a lack of skilled people: it's just that every damn tech company out there thinks they are Google.

          • anakaine 13 days ago
            I run a small team in a large organisation, and one that has historically been known for its apathy toward change.

            Just prior to Covid we had some churn, and some issues, and I capitalised on that.

            I went in to bat for higher wages for the roles I wished to hire for. Updated job descriptions to include newer tech stacks. Put in a position whose focus was on keeping things maintainable and having cross-team standards. I hired for competency, and offered flexible working arrangements but with some initially fixed, bite sized deliverables and quite a bit of breathing room for the team to come up to speed.

            I now have a very competent team who have a professional outlook, little drama, decent remuneration, job security, actual professional growth opportunity and flexibility to work from home for at least part of the week. I hope they feel supported and that they can get focus time. My gain is at the expense of those who were not agile enough to change.

            • 3guk 13 days ago
              Whilst I almost certainly work in a different industry to that of most of HN readers, I can tell you that it's having a massive effect.

              Our freelance pool has massively reduced in size - mostly through people moving on to find full-time work in completely different industries.

              In our case (events + conferences) - I'm finding it quite hard to comprehend, as we were one of the only companies still paying our freelancers during COVID as we believed it was the right thing to do, so that we would still have freelance staff who we could rely on post-pandemic. We were paying them on a completely no strings attached basis too - there was no expectation that they would have to pay it back or work for us in future. Our rates are well above average too - which makes the issue even more hard to understand.

              I suspect that in quite a few cases - people have gotten used to spending more time at home and with loved ones and have decided that they enjoy it more than travelling on a fairly regular basis.

              • LinuxBender 14 days ago
                I can't really answer your question directly because I am one of the folks that retired early and only hear rumors now, but I can say for certain it has affected businesses everywhere.

                I drove a ways to a bank and found they lost their last "banker". All they have are tellers now. The tellers are all in training to become bankers. They directed me to a bank 1.5 hours away but said they lost people too so I should make a solid appointment.

                ALL the remaining small businesses in the small town up the highway from me say "HELP WANTED". Some of the small businesses are closed for good. Many phone numbers just ring out or error now. I should add I moved to the middle of nowhere.

                • znpy 13 days ago
                  > drove a ways to a bank and found they lost their last "banker". All they have are tellers now.

                  My dad used to work in a bank and is now retired.

                  The way he described the retail banking industry when he left is that "bankers" were being basically phased out.

                  Banks nowadays mostly have tellers and 90% of their work is to gether documents and documentation, all the important decision will be taken more centrally, probably with the aid of some kind of AI/ML engine.

                  This view is confirmed by my recent experience in getting a mortgage: all the bank clerk did is collect documents proving my ability to repay a mortgage, but the final decision was delegated to some sort of central evaluation center.

                  ----

                  On a sidenote, this also means that the performance of a bank office in a certain city mostly does not depend on their employees there, and marketing mantras like "we entrust people to thrive / we empower people to thrive" is mostly BS.

                  Whereas 25-30 years ago a "banker" at the local branch of a bank could have followed their own instinct and could actually have helped people thrive, nowadays there probably is a hughe part of the decision taken by an automated system.

                  • LinuxBender 13 days ago
                    I am not surprised that banks are going the centralized decision route. Unfortunately in my case, banker at my bank is a title required to perform several functions. They could give me money but could not perform account modifications.
                  • throwawaysea 13 days ago
                    I feel like the help wanted signs at small businesses is largely due to COVID related measures that made it easy to stop working and enjoy an extended vacation. Things like stimulus checks and eviction bans. But the clock is ticking and people will need to return to work for those same wages as before. If they hold out they will still end up with the same purchasing power once inflation does its work.
                    • long_time_gone 13 days ago
                      > largely due to COVID related measures that made it easy to stop working and enjoy an extended vacation.

                      The jobs report that just came out debunks this theory. Your assumption that people are just “enjoying an extended vacation” seems pretty detached from the reasons people actually cite for leaving the workplace (going back to school, caring for kids, caring for elderly, illness, etc.).

                      Hopefully the new data available helps you change some assumptions about other people.

                      https://www.msn.com/en-us/money/markets/biden-gambled-that-c...

                      • matt_s 13 days ago
                        Something nearly every comment overlooks in this is the 700,000+ people in the US that simply have died due to Covid. That is the entire population of a small US city. I would guess a vast majority (i.e. 350k+) held jobs, this may have opened up new opportunities for those in lower skilled/retail that were ready for a move.

                        Inflation is increasing as well so people need higher pay but I bet a lot of businesses haven't seen inflated prices hit their P&L yet where they can "afford" higher wages. I say "afford" because I believe they can pay higher wages but the capitalism mantra of always higher returns means they won't pay more until they meet that objective for a quarter or two.

                        • Leherenn 13 days ago
                          According to [1], over half the 700k were over 75, and about 3/4 were above 65. I am not sure what the median retirement age is in the US, but I would assume most people retire around 65. It sounds unlikely to me that "a vast majority (i.e. 350k+) held jobs".

                          [1] https://www.statista.com/statistics/1191568/reported-deaths-...

                          • matt_s 13 days ago
                            Thanks for data! I was lazy and throwing out guesses. Looks like working age groups (18 up to 65) were ~165k people which might have had an impact on job opportunities.
                            • mrfusion 13 days ago
                              But even if that 165K a certain amount would have died of other causes if not this. The best you can really do is look at excess mortality.
                          • MrWiffles 13 days ago
                            Extremely good point WRT losing 700k people. Some estimates I've heard of (just skimmed headlines) claim it's well over a million who've died from COVID in the US alone, and that's just so far - sadly, that number is only going to go up, and even moreso with states like Texas outright banning vaccine mandates.

                            Also, consider the "domino effects" of that million+ loss: people losing a spouse, sibling, child, parent, etc. now may be in an even further economically disadvantaged position than they already were, thanks to losing that person and therefore that income source they provided. Some may have moved in with friends and are still grieving, not able to interview well for a job; some have been able to co-habitate and make ends meet with increased unemployment help from the government (especially when combined with eviction moratoriums that we're now seeing aren't valid legally anymore). And for professionals, "remote" is becoming the new norm despite corporate tyrants/sociopaths/control freaks trying to kill it.

                            Mix that economic disadvantage situation in with credit reports being a piece of the background check process in some jobs (which I think should be illegal as hell but I digress...), combine that with "remote is the new norm" emerging, rapidly increasing inflation and unrealistic employer expectations with laughably low pay, and yeah you start to see why nobody wants to go back to a lot of jobs, especially the shit ones.

                            Also...

                            > Inflation is increasing as well so people need higher pay [...] the capitalism mantra of always higher returns means [employers] won't pay more until they meet [higher revenue objectives] for a quarter or two.

                            Not at all disagreeing here, just wanted to point out a few things about this (as it's a complicated kind of thing.)

                            1. For-profit companies have a fiduciary responsibility to shareholders to generate those higher returns. This is literally the entire reason for a profit-driven company to exist, "doing good for the world" bullshit be damned.

                            2. Human beings are always, by far, the largest cost for any company, so increasing wages, benefits or hiring is the last thing you want to do from a profit perspective, at least in the short term (which is all the vast majority cares about, especially publicly traded companies).

                            3. My only very minor nitpick with that statement isn't about them being able to "afford" higher wages, but that it'll never happen until they're FORCED to pay higher wages, either by government action (minimum wage increase, etc.) or market conditions (can't hire? try paying better - it works!)

                            4. As soon as that happens though, they'll increase prices to their customers as much as possible in excess of their cost to pay higher wages because they can blame the increased margin beyond that wage compensation on said wage increase. For example, if I have to raise prices 10% to compensate for paying employees better, it would make sense to aim for ~15% and pocket that +5% margin, and if anybody gives me any flack over it I just blame it on the cost of rising wages. (Issues of public balance sheets etc. withstanding; not an accountant so I don't know if this level of visibility is realistic or not, assume it isn't.)

                            5. The only thing that'll keep those price increases under control is free market competition or the consumer's ability to forego that product/service. In some cases you can do this (movies, streaming services, etc.) and in some cases you can't (electricity, fuel, rent, food, internet, phone, etc.).

                            So the moral of the story is: competition keeps prices under control, and inflation just breeds more inflation, with as little as possible going to "the little guy" because it's the company's responsibility to increase returns for investors; employees are just an "expendable" means to an end, a necessary fiduciary "evil", so why pay them more unless you have to?

                            (I don't at all agree with this thinking, but this is how the world works, unfortunately. Capitalism is NOT the problem here, lack of competition is.)

                            • matt_s 13 days ago
                              Regarding your #3 point - one idea is the people at the top could take a cut in pay/bonuses (that will never happen) to raise wages of those at the bottom of the corporate ladder, advertise they are a better employer than their competitors and provide better service to their customers by being better staffed.
                      • giantg2 13 days ago
                        Our team lost half it's resources. I'm the ranking dev as a midlevel with a junior and a contractor under me. The company decided to combine us with another team. The next step is setting up an offshore team to support some of the mature apps. They are also setting up an office in a new location to set up another new team there.

                        Upper management has given some hints at good merit increases and bonuses this year. I'm not holding my breath though. Their definition of "good" might be wildly different.

                        • aynyc 13 days ago
                          My company is very family oriented, so a lot of seniors are staying while juniors are leaving. My company isn't competing on wages (somewhat competitive), but big on benefits such as good PTOs, good hours and minimum on-calls.

                          They are also making technology fun, hackathons, a lot of greenfield projects and tech refresh every couple of years. Even thought we are not a tech company, our tech org actually makes money, so we get a lot of budget to play with.

                          Funny thing is, I can make 25% more than what I make here, but I just can't see myself working for a company where WLB is a mess.

                          • bsenftner 13 days ago
                            I was the principal engineer of one of the top 5 global FR systems used by governments and NGOs world wide, and I quit last spring. As far as I know, they are not even trying to replace me with a person, but are trying to outsource development now. That's gonna be a cluster-fuck.
                            • Sevii 14 days ago
                              This spring my org experienced heavy turnover (including me) from the director down. Not sure how they are doing now but it can't be great considering how many experienced senior devs left.
                              • gruez 14 days ago
                                >This spring my org experienced heavy turnover

                                what counts as "heavy turnover"? I vaguely rememberthat the average tenure at a company is 1-2 years, which translates into an yearly turnover of 50-100%?

                                • weq 14 days ago
                                  Is this really a thing? i see this thrown around but... really? Can any software get built and and maintained long term with a 50% turnover each year? i find that it takes thing long to ramp on on anything even remotely legacy.

                                  Here is Australia, a group of CTOs met together recently to discuss the topic. They think the skills shortage is related to Banks offloading investment businesses due to some rule changes. They feel like its a temporary bubble. My company is almost refusing to raise their pay rates and is struggling to retain.

                                  My opinion is that the job market has changed forever. I worked remotely before Covid and always though dev jobs could be done remotely.

                              • resignThis2021 12 days ago
                                Creating a throwaway for this..

                                My multinational non-tech company is doing the following:

                                * NOT increasing salaries for positions

                                * NOT replacing people who leave

                                * NOT giving any pay rises or benefits to current staff

                                * They move skilled people from team to team on an ad-hoc basis

                                * They hire in expensive consultants

                                * They let go of the expensive consultants before handovers can even happen

                                • znpy 13 days ago
                                  Not much.

                                  My employer has been very smart in adapting to the remote-first approach.

                                  We hired a lot of full-remote people during the pandemic, the company is allowing people to switch contract and go full-remote and is allowing non-remote people to work from home until the end of the year.

                                  Starting from 2022 the rumor is that we'll be hitting the office once per week, mostly due to legal reason/constraints. If that's the case, I've proposed such day to be friday and I'll be pushing for all the meetings to be on friday, with the idea being the if I have to go to the office at least let's make it a social event (meetings, meetings with other teams, lunch together etc).

                                  This still has to materialize though, so we'll see :)

                                  • long_time_gone 13 days ago
                                    > I've proposed such day to be friday and I'll be pushing for all the meetings to be on friday, with the idea being the if I have to go to the office at least let's make it a social event

                                    Friday is also the most common day for people to leave work early or take off entirely. Just my opinion, but as a non-manager, I would not be happy if my manager made that move.

                                    • znpy 12 days ago
                                      > Friday is also the most common day for people to leave work early or take off entirely.

                                      I know :)

                                      • ipaddr 12 days ago
                                        Meeting on Fridays are better than Monday meetings.

                                        But coming into the office is so 2019.

                                        • long_time_gone 12 days ago
                                          >Meeting on Fridays are better than Monday meetings.

                                          There are three days in-between Monday and Friday that could also hold a meeting!

                                          >But coming into the office is so 2019.

                                          And I greatly preferred it.

                                      • giantg2 13 days ago
                                        We hired remotely during the pandemic, but told candidates that they are expected to come into the office when announced. It was relatively easy to hire compared to before. Most of them are just leaving for another company now that return to office has been announced.

                                        Management wonders why it's so hard to fill jobs now... hello, you had access to remote talent and now that you've axed that you only have access to local talent...

                                        • dyingkneepad 12 days ago
                                          Friday is read-only. Sorry, but we can't have meetings on Fridays.
                                        • berkeshire 13 days ago
                                          New hires across roles and seniority levels jump ship after a month, since offers just keep pouring in. Very hard to hire DevOps folks. Roadmaps are heavier than ever and fewer folks to haul them.
                                          • p1esk 12 days ago
                                            I and 3 other developers left in the last 30 days (~100 people AI startup). My boss told me a couple of days after I gave my notice he'd give me $50k raise if I stayed for at least 6 more months (until they can hire/onboard more people). I still refused - I was unhappy there lately, and I'm getting $40k raise at my next job anyway.
                                            • verdverm 14 days ago
                                              Most candidates in the pipeline are off shore
                                              • marto1 11 days ago
                                                Where I am(Europe high income) it doesn’t seem to have hit at all especially my industry(software). That being said employers have become MUCH more flexible with remote work.
                                                • culopatin 13 days ago
                                                  It has not affected us at all. My org offers pension and has been hiring certain type of person that would not risk losing the benefits for a potentially better salary