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Demystifying the Great Resignation

Protocol Workplace

Welcome back to our Workplace newsletter. We’ve got a lot for you this morning. Today: our manual covering The Great Resignation, the latest way applicants are denoting career gaps and the cities stealing away your tech talent with competitive pay.

—Amber Burton, reporter (email | twitter)

The Great Resignation

This week, Protocol’s workplace team released its latest manual, “The Great Resignation,” covering all things related to recruiting and retention in the world of tech. Our mighty team of reporters spends countless hours speaking with some of the top executives, researchers and decision-makers in the industry, but we all kept coming back to one question: Why is hiring so hard right now? Protocol decided to find the answers to that convoluted question so you wouldn’t have to.

Turns out, there are more than a few reasons why hiring continues to befuddle leaders in tech. In fact, some don’t even agree that hiring is any harder than it's always been.

  • The prevailing narrative is that it’s still a candidate’s market, meaning job seekers hold more power than ever. Even the most successful companies need to move more nimbly as it relates to attracting and holding on to talented workers. People have less hesitation or fear when it comes to jumping to another opportunity.
  • But some say recruiting in tech has always been a challenge. Jay Parikh, the co-CEO of the cybersecurity company Lacework, told my colleague Allison Levitsky it’s now “just a different ‘difficult.’”
  • You can attribute that new flavor of difficulty to the competitive market, how geographically distributed the talent market has become and the new set of challenges that come with recruiting most candidates via Zoom, said Parikh.

If attrition has you stress-eating in the middle of meetings, you’re far from alone. The solutions to the Big Quit aren’t always what you think. Our reporting found that leaders should pause before throwing money at employees threatening to walk out the door. Money is no longer enough to get a person to stay. It’s not unheard of for a person to take a raise and still walk away some time later.

Experts shared that startup founders in particular should take comfort in knowing that some attrition has always been completely normal. High-growth companies will naturally see higher attrition at 100 employees than they did as a scrappy 10-person startup, says Levitsky.

Protocol also took up the task of diving deeper into retention at the highest ranks within tech. Top leadership and C-suite executives have been far from exempt in “The Great Resignation.” The findings in Protocol’s new data were clear: When it comes to tenure, men outlast women, and white executives outlast leaders of color.

  • It’s no secret that tech leadership is and has historically been overwhelmingly white and male. But an analysis by my colleagues Michelle Ma and Satchie Snellings revealed that the women and people of color who do make it into the top ranks don’t last as long in their roles as white male executives.
  • The tenures of women in the leadership ranks of the major tech companies are more than one year shorter on average than that of men. Some gaps were much larger. Average leadership tenure for women at Apple, for example, was about 3 years, in comparison to their male counterparts who stayed in their roles for an average of 7.4 years.
  • Turnover is particularly high among chief diversity officers. The average tenure of diversity officers among Amazon, Apple, Google, Meta and Microsoft was 3.3 years, the lowest among all the tracked roles.
  • Read the full report (and some very revealing charts).

Here’s what else you need to know to study up on recruiting and retention:

Check out Protocol’s full manual, “The Great Resignation.”

Recruiting and retaining talent in the new world of work

How do you compete for top tech talent today? And what are the best ways to hold on to your employees in the new labor market? Join Protocol and a panel of talent and workplace specialists as they discuss the most innovative ways to recruit and retain great employees at 10 a.m. PT on March 3.

RSVP here.


95% of employees quitting their jobs say the number-one reason is a lack of growth opportunities.* Learn how you can increase top talent retention, strengthen your onboarding process and reduce burnout on your teams with our report. *Source:

Learn more

LinkedIn labels career gaps

LinkedIn announced that it’s adding new job title options to reflect career breaks for professionals on the site. Following two years of pandemic parenting gaps and career shifts, users expressed a need for new job descriptions that better describe the pauses in their careers.

There are 13 new career breaks members of the site can now add to their profiles: bereavement, career transition, caregiving, full-time parenting, gap year, layoff or position eliminated, health and well-being, personal goal pursuit, professional development, relocation, retirement, travel and voluntary work.

While the company had already introduced "stay-at-home mom,” “stay-at-home dad” and “stay-at-home parent" as official titles, the latest addition adds more breadth to the types of gaps on people’s resumes. LinkedIn found that career gaps spiked 39% year over year in 2020. Since that time, hiring managers' view of a career gap as a red flag has changed. 79% of hiring managers now say they would hire a candidate with a career gap on their resume, according to LinkedIn.

Read the full story.

Today's tips & tools

Looking for an easy way to save energy? Here’s a great tip from The New York Times’ Brian X. Chen, as seen in Shira Ovide’s On Tech newsletter. Schedule automatic shutdowns for your computer.

  • For Mac users: Go to System Preferences, “Battery” then “Schedule.” Then you can customize whether you want to shut down or put your computer to sleep each day, as well as the time.
  • For Windows users: You can use the “Task Scheduler” to set a time for shutdown each day.

— Lizzy Lawrence, reporter (email| twitter)

Follow the money

Tech companies outside of the San Francisco Bay Area are giving the traditional big players a run for their money when hiring software engineers. A recent study by Blind looking at annual base pay and total compensation packages in various cities found that Midwest and East Coast companies are coming closer to competing with the compensation in West Coast tech hubs. Tech workers now have more options geographically with increasingly similar pay packages.

Here’s a look at the top-paying cities outside of the traditional West Coast tech hubs for software engineers, programmers and developers, alongside average total compensation. For comparison, average total compensation in San Francisco and Seattle are about $265,000 and 243,000 respectively.

  • New York, NY - $223,715
  • Boulder, CO - $213,656
  • Cambridge, MA - $208,279
  • Pittsburgh, PA - $199,480
  • Princeton, NJ - $194,653
  • Tempe, AZ - $190,575
  • Portland, OR - $182,152
  • Herndon, VA - $177,288
  • Chicago, IL - $173,991
  • Boston, MA - $173,659

More stories from us

Airbnb is planning to provide free housing for up to 100,000 refugees fleeing Ukraine.

Companies are weighing the tradeoff of using AI-powered writing assistants: Is sending polished emails worth risking sharing company data?

Are you using your calendar correctly? Probably not.

Uber, Lyft and the Teamsters recently backed a billguaranteeing ride-hailing workers new benefits. The sentiments among labor activists: It’s complicated.

In a Qualtrics survey, 94% of tech workers said they want a four-day workweek, but 64% said it would likely frustrate customers.


95% of employees quitting their jobs say the number-one reason is a lack of growth opportunities.* Learn how you can increase top talent retention, strengthen your onboarding process and reduce burnout on your teams with our report. *Source:

Learn more

Around the internet

A roundup of workplace news from the farthest corners of the internet.

One good listen: A Meta employee shared how he started a support group at the company for people who stutter on the podcast Proud Stutter.

There’s a possibility that some of those Baby Boomers who left jobs or retired at the start of the pandemic make a return to the workplace.

Executives are signaling that it might actually be time to pull out your office badge and transit card again. For real this time.

Thoughts, questions, tips? Send them to Have a great day, see you Thursday.

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