The Great Resignation in Edtech Has Just Begun

A talent leader shares her thoughts on successfully navigating what’s next.

GUEST COLUMN | by Camille Fetter 

The pandemic has caused educational institutions to accelerate putting digital strategy at the core of their operations. With most, if not all, institutions well into their digital transformation journeys, the demand for edtech talent will continue to outweigh the supply, causing the intensity of the edtech job market to increase in 2022.

Even with students returning to classrooms, we can’t help but embrace our new reality that the widespread adoption of digital education is here to stay, made possible by the rapidly changing edtech industry.

‘In this market, edtech employees are finding themselves in the driver’s seat which is reflective of an industry that was already exploding with investment and growth prior to the pandemic.’

These are the key dynamics that are driving The Great Resignation within the edtech industry, and what they mean for edtech employers and employees.

Edtech Employees are in the Driver’s Seat

In this market, edtech employees are finding themselves in the driver’s seat which is reflective of an industry that was already exploding with investment and growth prior to the pandemic.

A jobseeker survey by Bankrate revealed that 55 percent of Americans expect to search for a new job by August 2022, including a rush of mid-career tech talent that is flooding the marketplace.

And according to Harvard Business Review, “resignation rates were higher among employees who worked in fields that had experienced extreme increases in demand due to the pandemic, likely leading to increased workloads and burnout.”  

Burnout and exhaustion are very real concerns within edtech given the incredible demand the pandemic drove, which is leading to employees seeking less demanding work elsewhere – either with other edtech firms, or with technology companies outside edtech altogether.

The Great Disengagement has Caught Up to Edtech

The number one reason top talent is considering change right now is because they are looking for more meaning in their work. This is true for edtech employees, who are experiencing The Great Disengagement where they don’t feel connected to their organizations and are leaving as a result.

The need for the right job – for everyone – is becoming ever more urgent. Barriers to fulfillment across edtech have been exacerbated by the pandemic and the transformation of what we previously understood edtech, education, and educational institutions to be.

To retain talent and keep them engaged, edtech companies must be able to effectively communicate to employees what makes the organization a fulfilling place to work, through an employer brand that clearly states its mission, values and culture.
The highest performing edtech talent wants to work for companies with missions and values that align with their own and be part of a culture they believe they can make positive contributions to.

Lines are Blurring between Workplace Trends within Edtech and Technology

The hiring trends in edtech are moving more and more toward the trends that were once unique to technology companies, including a faster cadence and pace of hiring. This is resulting in shorter employee tenures, larger salaries, and more dynamic work environments.

Edtech companies are now competing directly for talent with direct-to-consumer (D2C) technology companies and, as a result, are offering on average 20 percent higher salaries. edtech talent is expecting these higher salaries, and often look to technology start-ups as the barometer for their salary expectations.

Bonuses are also becoming more the norm within edtech. With many bonuses expected to be paid out in Q1, employees will have the impetus to look for jobs with higher pay and more flexibility.

Flexibility in Edtech is Table Stakes

Flexibility is extremely important to edtech employees. Not only do they want hybrid, but many are entertaining only remote positions. If you think about it this way, edtech companies are enabling students to learn remotely so it would be hypocritical for them to demand that their employees work in the office at all times.

We are also finding that edtech companies are being reactive versus proactive when it comes to managing their employees’ expectations of location flexibility. Competing with technology companies of all kinds, edtech leaders must have a very strong understanding of the amount of flight risk they are instilling in their organization with onsite expectations, including the specific positions the mandate will impact the most. If employees do not feel these decisions are a two-way conversation with their leadership, that’s when they will “start to talk” and the dismantling of full teams and departments begin.

Successfully navigating The Great Resignation within edtech requires both employers and employees to work together to maintain a strong bottom line and engaged and fulfilled talent. While the evolving dynamics of the edtech workforce calls for employers and employees to evolve their thinking, it’s overall a very exciting time to be in the industry given the growth its experiencing and the pace its changing.

Camille Fetter is the founder and CEO of Talentfoot, a digital business executive search firm focused on the EdTech, MarTech, advertising, marketing, sales, and technology industries. As a leader who never stops thinking “what’s next?,” Camille thrives on disrupting the status quo to fuel business growth. Connect through LinkedIn.


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