The Tech Council of Australia (TCA) reported an impressive 8% growth in the past year, generating over 10,000 new jobs in just the first quarter of 2023. The total tech workforce surged to 935,000 by February 2023, showcasing its vital role in diverse sectors like retail, banking, government, and more. It’s evident the demand for skilled tech talent continues to surge in Australia, and this can be attributed to the country’s tech hubs, particularly in cities like Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, and Perth, which serve as bustling centres of innovation and collaboration. Despite spates of layoffs over the year, the sector remains resilient, creating 20 new jobs for every one lost and the average tech wages continue to stand strong at approximately $130K.  However, the combination of decreasing Australian job vacancies and a remarkable increase in job satisfaction among Australia’s young tech workers in 2023 could usher in a new workplace trend called ‘The Big Stay’. The trend is already sweeping the US, with workers choosing to stay put at work after a tumultuous year.

Against this backdrop young tech professionals wield significant influence. They also arrive with distinct expectations concerning workplace experience, career advancement, and benefits that differ greatly from those of other age groups. Additionally, they bring a strong inclination towards continuous learning and this year in particular our Young Generation in Tech (YGIT) survey shows they exhibit a growing preference for office-based work, even in the face of technological advancements like AI.

HiBob’s research, now in its second year, offers searching insights into the world of young tech professionals looking at what motivates them and how attitudes have changed year over year. This extensive study polled 4000 participants across Europe and North America, and included 1000 Australian tech professionals aged 20-30. It’s a window into the essential aspects of this dynamic demographic, which plays a pivotal role in the tech landscape.

In a competitive labour market, companies are invited to leverage these findings to tailor their offerings, meeting the specific needs and expectations of this discerning cohort.

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Key Takeaways

  • Surge in job satisfaction tempered by concerns over job security
  • Opt for stability over uncertainty
  • Prioritise flexibility with a preference for office work
  • Want secure well paid jobs with guaranteed career progression
  • Autonomy is the key to maintaining this cohort’s mental health
  • Australia’s young tech talent embrace AI
  • Companies forge ahead in DEI initiatives despite lower priority among young tech workers

 1. Surging job satisfaction for Australia’s young tech workers amid labour market cooling is driving ‘The Big Stay’

Despite young tech workers in Australia feeling generally happy in their jobs, many worry about how secure their jobs are. Because of this, only 18% of them are thinking about leaving their current jobs this year. This is less than the 24% who thought about leaving in 2022.

Moreover, few young Australians working in tech said it was less about the job itself when it comes to satisfaction and more about the people and environment around them. Just one in three (32%) said what they do/their role was what they liked about their job, compared with over half (51%) that mentioned their team, 43% that said their manager, and 37% that pointed to the company culture. Inclusivity remains a low priority, chosen by only 10%, aligning with the 2022 result, showing no significant change.

In terms of what young tech professionals don’t like about where they work, limited opportunities to build relationships with their team (43%), no clear career path (38%), company culture (29%), and not enough time in the office (27%) were the top responses.

So, it’s fair to say that to retain young tech professionals, employers should try to synchronise career development with financial growth, offering transparent paths, regular reviews, and promotion opportunities. Prioritising collaborative team dynamics and supportive management is also vital for workplace satisfaction.

2. Tech Talent Prioritise Stability over Uncertainty

Despite a sense of job security among tech talent, a prevailing lack of confidence in both their companies and the market has led to a cautious stance. With only 18% planning to leave their roles this year, and 83% expressing little to no confidence, these professionals prioritise stability over uncertainty.

While 53% of young tech workers feel secure in their jobs, the low intention to leave points to the possibility that young professionals in 2024 will be more inclined to play it safe where employment is concerned and look to other factors to enhance their workplace experience. This year 58% express being very satisfied in their roles, up from 32% in 2022, potentially signalling the start of a ‘big stay’ period for this cohort.

An impressive 82% of respondents acknowledge that the economic downturn has prompted a reevaluation of their career trajectories. Interestingly, they do not perceive the tech industry to be disproportionately impacted by these economic shifts. This signifies a remarkable resilience among these professionals, reflecting their confidence in the stability and growth potential within the tech sector in spite of the macroeconomic environment but not enough to make them want to leave current roles.

Empowered Flexibility: Gen Z Finds Perfect Work-Life Balance in 2023

Australian Gen Zs’ workplace experiences have shown notable improvements in other areas as well this year. Over two fifths (44%) now affirm that their work-life balance is just right, an increase from the 40% reported in 2022 and almost two fifths (36%) say it is better than expected.  

While a significant portion (53%) currently enjoys a form of hybrid work model, it’s noteworthy that 47% are required to be in the office five days a week. What’s particularly intriguing is where they are most motivated — 49% express a preference for working from the office in this respect, with 39% favouring a ‘work from home’ arrangement.

While these results highlight a diverse spectrum of work models and preferences among this cohort, one thing is clear — they seek autonomy and require support to structure their work in a way that best suits their needs and preferences on any given day.

When asked which work model they preferred between a 4-day in-office and 1 day from home working week versus a 5-day hybrid week, 52% lean towards spending more time in an office setting than not. Employers should pay close attention to these seemingly contradictory preferences, as they offer valuable insights into what truly drives work satisfaction and productivity. Ultimately, what employees desire is the ability to be in the office as often as they like with the freedom to choose how and where they work.


3. Australia’s Tech Talent’s Dilemma: Balancing Loyalty to Tenure with the Pursuit of Fair Pay and Promotion

​​While young tech professionals exhibit high levels of satisfaction and job security overall, it’s important to acknowledge the factors that could influence their decision to explore new opportunities. Specifically, the desire for improved compensation (22%) or increased responsibilities (20%) emerges as a pivotal consideration for this cohort.

Interestingly, the top reasons for considering leaving a job align with factors that could motivate them to stay—both promotion opportunities and a desire for a pay increase jointly top the list with 19% of respondents selecting these options. Despite reporting heightened job satisfaction and increased security this year, 16% mentioned they would contemplate leaving if they sensed their role was at risk of elimination.

Leading the preferences with 21% of respondents, their ideal workplace is envisioned as an innovative tech startup. This marks a significant shift from the previous year’s emphasis on secure compensation packages (28%), which now stands at 13%, and established tech giants (26%), which now drops to 17%.

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While this cohort demonstrates loyalty with a belief in staying with the same company as an effective career path (27%, consistent with 2022), it’s essential to recognise their inherent risk aversion and ambition. Despite this devotion, a significant portion acknowledges that changing roles every two years is a viable strategy. This implies that while they value stability, they are not against exploring better opportunities for career advancement. Employers should consider these preferences, providing a balance between stability and avenues for professional growth to effectively retain and engage this dynamic cohort.

Given that pay and promotion are also cited as significant motivators for this cohort, employers should be mindful of aligning career development strategies with opportunities for financial growth and advancement. Offering transparent career paths within the organisation, coupled with regular salary reviews and promotion opportunities, can create a compelling proposition for retaining this group.

On the other hand, in terms of dislikes, not enough time in the office to develop relationships with teams (19%) and an unclear career path (17%), were the top concerns.

So, it’s fair to say that to retain young tech professionals, employers should try to synchronise career development with financial growth, offering transparent paths, regular reviews, and promotion opportunities. Prioritising collaborative team dynamics and supportive management is also vital for workplace satisfaction.

4. Young Tech Professionals in Australia Value Independence  for Maintaining Their Mental WellBeing

While there are high levels of job satisfaction, a notable portion (67%) of respondents acknowledges that the demands of their roles do have somewhat of (37%) or very much of (30%) an impact on their mental health. This admission is significant as it highlights the importance of creating a work environment that supports employee well-being.

Well over half (57%) highlight that being trusted in their roles is the most effective way for companies to help them manage stress, indicating that autonomy and a sense of ownership in how they discharge duties play a crucial role in maintaining their mental wellbeing. This suggests that companies can promote mental health by entrusting employees with meaningful tasks and decision-making authority.

It’s revealing to see 17% emphasise the value of being shown that they are trusted in their roles as a key stress management strategy, while 16% highlight the significance of having sufficient resources. Another 15% identify avoiding micromanagement as an important factor.  Employers must embody these behaviours and highlight the importance of giving employees the space and freedom to manage their tasks and responsibilities in a way that aligns with their individual work styles and preferences.

This approach positions businesses and managers to reap the rewards of cultivating a workplace conducive to mental well-being.

Surprisingly, company culture holds less weight (6%) in maintaining their wellbeing at work. This does not suggest that a positive culture is unimportant, but rather that other factors such as trust, resources, and autonomy are perceived as more immediate contributors to mental wellbeing.


5. AI: A Path to Productivity and Innovation in the Workplace for Australia’s Young Tech Talent

The survey findings unveil a promising attitude by tech professionals towards emerging technologies, specifically artificial intelligence (AI). A significant 46% of respondents foresee a positive impact on their roles, demonstrating a readiness to embrace innovation. This presents a valuable opportunity for employers to tap into this enthusiasm and drive productivity to new heights.

For employers, it’s crucial to recognise and support this inclination. Offering continuous learning and development opportunities in emerging technologies can not only enhance employees’ confidence but also equip them with the skills needed to leverage these advancements effectively. This investment in upskilling can lead to a more adaptable and innovative workforce.

Moreover, fostering a culture that encourages experimentation and the integration of new technologies is key. Creating an environment where employees feel empowered to explore innovative solutions can drive creativity and problem-solving. It can also lead to the development of unique approaches to challenges, ultimately benefiting the organisation as a whole.

The positive outlook on emerging technologies offers a prime opportunity for employers to nurture a forward-thinking and dynamic workplace. By investing in the development of tech skills and nurturing  an innovative culture, companies can unlock the full potential of their workforce and drive success in the digital age.

6. Despite a lower ranking among young workers, employers are increasingly prioritising DEI-led structural changes

While inclusivity remains a low priority in terms of what this cohort values most about their workplace experience, the survey data does reveal a multifaceted approach among companies towards diversity, equity, and inclusion and belonging (DEI&B). A fifth of respondents said their companies emphasise inclusivity through the celebration of events like Pride month, demonstrating a commitment to recognising and supporting underrepresented communities. Furthermore, 16% of this group indicated their companies employ inclusive marketing strategies. While these practices are commendable, it’s equally important for companies to focus on structural changes within their organisations despite this aspect not ranking highly in terms of workplace experience drivers for this group.

15% of respondents say their companies have taken steps to promote inclusivity by ensuring diverse representation in leadership positions. This is a pivotal move towards creating an environment that reflects a wide range of perspectives and experiences. Additionally, 14% say their employers have implemented gender-neutral policies, showcasing a step towards creating an inclusive and welcoming workspace for all genders.

While the importance of DEI&B may not be a top priority for young tech professionals, companies are taking strategic actions to ensure lasting impact, however, this must extend beyond symbolic gestures. These concrete steps reflect a commitment to cultivating a workplace that not only celebrates diversity but also recognises the substantial business advantages it brings.

Summary and Conclusions

This report highlights a positive outlook among young professionals in the Australian tech industry in 2023. Despite concerns about the economy, the majority express high job satisfaction and feel secure in their positions. While they value monetary compensation and career progression there is a significant portion prioritising team dynamics and career clarity too as motivators. 

Interestingly, they show a preference for office-based work, valuing collaboration and structure, and demonstrating that the tide is turning on the ‘work from home’ trend for this generation. Work-life balance and mental wellbeing are also key considerations, with a significant portion finding their current balance satisfactory though not without challenges. 

Most notably, the vast majority believe AI will have a positive effect on productivity and creativity. This suggests businesses should accelerate AI integration to gain a competitive edge. Despite an overall overwhelmingly positive outlook by the group, businesses should continue looking at ways of maintaining and building on these high levels of satisfaction as the landscape continues to evolve.