Movement in Microsoft: What motivates professionals to leave their jobs and where are they going instead?

By Lina Arshad

In 2020, the world as we knew it changed drastically. With the COVID-19 pandemic forcing employees out of offices and closing businesses down both temporarily and permanently, it’s safe to say the health crisis had a significant impact on all industries in one way or another. And for technology, while it meant that business was booming as consumer demands for better products and services that would support them through remote working increased, it also created a shift within employee-employer power dynamics.  

More specifically, we witnessed the Great Resignation—where employees were upping and leaving the companies they work for in search of something more fulfilling, or somewhere that better matches up with their own personal ethics. Similarly, with the pressure on for tech—and cloud tech in particular—to develop far faster than the industry could’ve ever predicted for, new products and services were cropping up almost overnight, creating a digital skills gap among the available talent. And as one of the leaders in the cloud tech space, the Microsoft ecosystem was no exception.  

This has posed two very key questions for employers, hiring managers, and industry experts alike—why are Microsoft professionals leaving the ecosystem, and where are they going? And perhaps most prominently, what would make them change their mind and stay? Although this was a huge trend during the pandemic, it’s still something we’re seeing even as the health crisis settles down in most parts of the world, and therefore, something worth studying. 

In this blog, we will be taking a closer look at the reasons Microsoft professionals are leaving their posts and catching up with where they’re headed.  

What are the reasons for the movement within Microsoft? 

Just like many other employees and job seekers, Microsoft professionals prioritize feeling happy, valued, and fairly treated in any role they take on. In fact, according to the Nigel Frank Careers and Hiring Guide: Microsoft 365 and Azure Edition 2021-22, permanent employees who took part in our survey seemed to agree on some common themes in what attracts them to a role—many including mentions of the perks and benefits an employer is offering, as well as considerations of workplace culture. 

Some of these themes included, but were not limited to: 

  • A better salary and compensation package 
  • To gain homeworking as a benefit 
  • Opportunities for career progression 
  • Opportunities for professional progression 
  • The ability to work in a challenging role or take on a challenging project 
  • To pursue a better cultural fit 
  • To escape a toxic work culture  

The above list doesn’t however highlight the impact that the right employee perks and benefits can hold over a candidate’s choice to join an organization. In fact, according to our report, 84% of permanent Microsoft professionals claimed that, salary aside, the perks and benefits offered by a company are important when they’re considering if they’ll accept a job offer or not.  

But what changes happen to these factors that were initially so attractive to talent, to mean they’re no longer enough to retain staff?  

1. Salary promises don’t come to fruition

Sometimes when we’re seeking new positions, we can fall victim to the promises of an employer in terms of the perks and benefits we’ll accrue as we get further into the job. And while sometimes this is needed—for example, only allowing an employer to work from home once they’ve thoroughly been trained and understand the programs and applications they need to use—it can be incredibly disheartening when the promises of things like an increased salary by a certain point don’t come to fruition.   

And according to our report, it may just be the case that this is happening, with 74% of Microsoft professionals stating that their salary increased when they changed jobs—on average, this was equivalent to a 19% rise in earnings. This is indicative of the fact that perhaps Microsoft talent aren’t getting the wages they want or deserve, and their only chance of making this happen is to move to another company.  

While our guide showed that over a third (39%) of Microsoft professionals have never negotiated a pay rise, we did find that the same percentage reported that they were planning to have the conversation with their employer in the following 12 months. So, even if you haven’t been approached about salary increases at this point, employees seem to be more willing to approach the subject with their employer. 

What’s more, and perhaps most interestingly, we found that of the employees that were resigning from jobs for better opportunities elsewhere, 53% of Microsoft professionals had received a counteroffer in a bid to make them stay. A noteworthy 69% of these weren’t accepting a counteroffer, and this shows us just how crucial it is to listen to your employees while they’re still engaged with your business, and at the first chance possible. Even if you can’t give them a pay rise immediately, taking the time to develop a career plan with them to get them to where they want to be can provide them with direction and the motivation to keep working, rather than looking elsewhere.  

Simply put: if you aren’t willing to pay your workers fairly and competitively, or communicate properly and clearly with them about this, they’re going to look to other companies who will. 

2. Better perks are available at other companies

Perks have become pivotal to an employee or job seekers job search. What once was a set of “nice to have” benefits, is now becoming increasingly expected as the norm, driven by the changes brought around by the pandemic.  

And with the race for talent is well and truly in motion as the industry faces shortages of experienced professionals, it’s employees that are holding the power in dictating what perks and benefits they are offered, by turning away from any employer who hasn’t adapted to the new normal and the shift that came with it. 

When we asked end users what would convince them to accept or consider a new role, the top motivating factors included: 

  • Homeworking (38%) 
  • Four weeks or more paid time off (37%) 
  • Bonus (monthly/bi-annual/year-end-bonus) (30%) 
  • Health/medical insurance (25%) 
  • Flexible working hours (22%) 
  • Training and development opportunities (13%) 

Similarly, when we asked partners what would convince them to move to an end user, they reported: 

  • The ability to work remotely (54%) 
  • Better work-life balance (54%) 
  • Better career progression opportunities (49%) 
  • Better training and learning opportunities (33%) 
  • Less stress (29%) 
  • Better benefits (28%) 

Taking this data into account, it’s clear that pay is still a primary motivator for Microsoft professionals, but that some of the most highly coveted perks revolve around a sense of well-being; in both a physical and mental sense. And with remote work being the top answer for both end users and partners, it’s clear this is a must-have for organizations wanting to attract and retain talent.  

This was supported in our report, with 33% of respondents stating they would like to work fully remotely all the time, and 50% saying they’d prefer a hybrid working arrangement.  

According to Pew Research Center, the risk of Covid-19 was still one of the main reasons for employees still working from home at the start of this year, but it also brings about advantages for other groups. For example, roughly one-third of parents cite childcare as the main reason for them remote working. Allowing your employees to work remotely can significantly improve their work-life balance, leading to happier and more productive staff, as well as lower attrition rates—which is crucial given the current talent shortages. Plus, by removing the need to be in the location of the office, you can attract more diverse talent.

3. There are opportunities for career and professional progression elsewhere

With training and development opportunities and career progression falling within the top motivating factors for both Microsoft end users and partners alike, it’s clear that Microsoft professionals are feeling motivated to further their career, and their professional skillset. Microsoft reported an impressive growth in its cloud segment revenue over the last two years—with revenue from its cloud segment reaching $25 billion in Q4 FY22. And, the speed at which it was made to grow under such pressured conditions, it’s possible Microsoft talent has seen the endless opportunities that they have at their fingertips.  

Of the Microsoft professionals surveyed in our Careers and Hiring Guide, 58% revealed they were satisfied with their current career progression, and 53% reported being satisfied with their training and development opportunities. While this seems a relatively positive result, this leaves just under half of respondents not 100% satisfied with these aspects of their current workplace.  

Not only can this lead to less motivated and engaged staff as they aren’t being given the chance to develop their skillsets and advance their knowledge, but it can mean your top talent end up leaving your company for one which they feel values their personal and professional goals.  

According to research from CIPD, a lack of development opportunities isn’t just holding people back in terms of their knowledge, but it’s also giving companies excuses to keep people trapped in lower-paid roles. This in turn can result in higher attrition rates, as employees search for opportunities with clearer progression routes. 

4. Other organizations have happier and healthier company cultures

While the idea of a company culture can be claimed to be slightly outdated as we become more diverse and accepting and celebratory of people’s differences, organic company cultures that naturally arise can help to build rapports between coworkers and give everybody a sense of belonging—almost like a family, rather than a workforce.  

But sadly, toxic work culture is still very much at large in many industries. So much so, that a report from MIT Sloan’s Management Review found that it was the number one factor driving the Great Resignation. Results from our Careers and Hiring Guide support this further, finding that escaping from a toxic workplace was one of the biggest motivators forcing employees to search for a new job.  

With this in mind, it’s crucial that business owners take a step back and look at the type of culture they currently have, and what they can do to make it feel like a fairer and more welcoming environment. This could involve implementing more teambuilding activities and exercises, encouraging interdepartmental collaboration, and ensuring that everybody is getting the support they need and being rewarded for the great work they do. 

5. Employees are suffering from burnout

One of the issues highlighted by partners was the issue of being stressed—and that they would make the move to an end user if it meant there was less stress associated with their role.  

Employee burnout has long been an issue for many industries, but this became even more prominent when the pandemic hit, as collective worry about health, finances, and job security washed over the global population. According to the American Psychological Association’s Work and Well-Being Survey 2021, 79% of Americans said they typically feel tense or stressed out during the workday. Prolonged periods of this can eventually lead to burnout.  

And while there are several causes for employee burnout, the same survey found that low salaries (56% up from 49% in 2019), long hours (54% up from 46% in 2019), and a lack of opportunity for growth and advancement (52% up from 44% in 2019) are some of the most common contributing factors. Others mentioned included too heavy of a workload (50%), a lack of paid time off or sick leave (50%), and commuting time (50%).  

Note that all these factors that contribute to burnout were reasons reported by the respondents in our own survey that supported their decision to leave their current role. So, it may be that many companies are already at risk of losing some of their top talent as employees are reaching burnout.  

Where are Microsoft professionals going? 

Now that we know why Microsoft professionals are leaving, it’s worth delving deeper and finding out where they’re heading to, and why. Can the different types of Microsoft professionals be tempted to leave their roles and try something new, all in the name of higher salary, and better perks? We explore further below.  

Where are Microsoft end users moving to? 

As part of an end user firm, you benefit from using the great products and services on offer from Microsoft which are implemented through a dedicated IT team. But with the rush of movement affecting all types of Microsoft professionals in the ecosystem, it’s important that you know where end users are moving to, and why, so you can make the changes they need to stay within your organization.  

In our report, we found that there are many factors that could motivate an end user to move to any other role within the ecosystem—whether that was to a partner firm or to a contractor position. And 84% of permanent employees who are working for an end user told us that apart from a good salary, workplace benefits are important when deciding if they would take another offer or not.  

But which benefits and perks are most important to these professionals? The top 10 that our survey revealed to us were: 

  • Homeworking (38%) 
  • Four weeks or more paid time off (37%) 
  • Bonus (monthly/bi-annual/year-end bonus) (30%) 
  • Health/medical insurance (25%) 
  • Flexible working hours (22%) 
  • Training and development opportunities (13%) 
  • Company car (10%) 
  • Shares in the company/reduced priced shares in the company (10%) 
  • Commission (9%) 
  • Retirement savings plan/410(k) Match pension contributions (9%) 

With homeworking topping the list of highly sought-after perks for employees working for end users, perhaps it’s time to think about how to make the most of your virtual teams in the new normal—not only to ensure you’re retaining your Microsoft talent, but that you’re also getting optimal results and consistent progress from them in line with your expectations.  

With many of the other perks revolving around health and protecting this into the future, prioritizing well-being initiatives could be your key to satisfying your employees and ensuring they get the work-life balance needed. This will help keep them happy and healthy, andable to perform optimally both on a personal and professional level. 

Where are Microsoft Partners moving to? 

Those Microsoft professionals who are currently working in partner organizations have a whole host of benefits at their fingertips. As well as working with other experts who are knowledgeable about the ecosystem, you’ll also benefit from direct relationships with Microsoft itself.  

With all the education they could need in their hands, why would anyone want to move from a partner organization? Well, according to our Careers and Hiring Guide, over half (52%) of partner employees would consider working for an end user, citing the top reasons for this as being: 

  • Ability to work remotely (54%) 
  • Better work-life balance (54%) 
  • Better career progression opportunities (49%) 
  • Possibility to develop skills across different Microsoft productions (40%) 
  • Better training and learning opportunities (33%) 
  • Ownership over a project/system (31%) 
  • Less stress (29%) 
  • Better benefits (28%) 
  • More stability (25%) 
  • Consistency (20%) 
  • Less travel (19%) 
  • Other (3%)  

With more autonomy over their workload, and the potential to work on a number of different projects with various clients, and better training and learning opportunities on offer at end user organizations, if you’re a partner organization it may be worth taking a look at these aspects of your company to see where you can compete and how you can retain your Microsoft Azure and Dynamics talent 

Where are Microsoft contractors moving to? 

Freelancers have a plethora of perks associated with their job. As well as being able to work on projects that they feel passionate and well-suited for, they’re able to set their own rates and therefore increase their earning potential, as well as being able to work from a location of their choice and in some cases, if you’re not a W-2 employee, you can also set your own schedule and hours.  

With so much autonomy, and a shedload of great perks associated with a contractor role, why would anyone in this position want to switch? 

Well, according to our report, 37% of Microsoft freelancers would be convinced to switch to a permanent role in the coming year with the 10 top reasons for doing so being: 

  • Job stability and security (79%) 
  • A competitive salary (53%) 
  • A stable income (47%) 
  • Company’s values and culture align to their own (47%) 
  • Remote working options (47%) 
  • Career progression opportunities (47%) 
  • Flexible/agile working (47%) 
  • Valuable work/feeling like your work will make a positive impact (32%) 
  • A generous benefits package (26%) 

With the pandemic shaking up the world as we know it and causing many unforeseen changes to the way we work, our financial situations, and our careers, it’s perhaps unsurprising that job stability and security have topped the list here. Where employees have been shown how quickly things might change, and where freelancers may have less protection and support than those who are part of an organization, it’s to be expected that having some certainty is a desirable trait for future roles.  

Looking further into the list, there are clear themes within the motivating factors here that match up with the research we’ve cited and the results from our own report that explain that as well as salary being an important consideration for employees and job seekers, they also take many aspects that’ll impact their mental and physical health into account, too. With a healthy work culture, generous benefits package and career progression opportunities, you could widen your talent pool, win the race for talent and attract contractors to join your organization.  

The pandemic shook things up and gave workers in many industries a fresh perspective as to what’s truly important. With well-being perks, flexibility, and enjoyment being at the forefront of all job-making decisions for Microsoft professionals, make sure you’re taking the time to listen to the needs of your workforce and implementing solutions to these as soon as possible—or keeping them updated with the progress of these if they’ll take a little longer to implement.  

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