UK firms facing a “merry-go-round” of senior leadership changes as turnover rates soar

Cyber security leadership team discussing an incident in an open plan office space in low light.
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UK businesses are facing a 'merry-go-round' of changes in IT leadership, with senior decision makers saying they're ready to move on.

A survey conducted by Censuswide for IT support and services firm Auxilion and HPE found that nearly two-in-five IT leaders are planning to change jobs in the next two years.

More than one-in-four switched jobs in 2023, and more than a third revealed they have interviewed for another job in the past six months.

"The movement of senior decision makers, and especially in business-critical roles like IT, creates huge demand and pressure on organizations,” said Niamh Cray, chief people officer at Auxilion.

“Such gaps also have a wider impact in terms of their ability to maintain operations, complete projects and deliver services.”.

"When it comes to talent and recruitment, we believe businesses should adopt a hybrid approach where they incorporate contractors and resourcing partners. A more flexible model like this means organizations can move swiftly to plug any skills gaps that arise and minimize disruption."

The high turnover of senior IT staff appears to be boosted by a desire to work with cutting-edge technologies, with more than half saying they'd leave their current position if their organization failed to invest in emerging technologies such as AI.

"This data also sends a clear message to business leaders that a lack of investment in emerging technologies could see you lose talent across the organization, which can be very disruptive and damaging. Businesses need to embrace technology and leverage its capabilities to stimulate growth," Cray added.

A recent report from software firm Aura found that staff turnover in the tech industry is 1.12 times higher than that in other sectors.

"This trend challenges the conventional notion of associating higher tenure with better retention," said Aura product manager Abylay Jetmekov.

The Auxilion report echoes the findings of Gartner research last year, which found that nearly half of cyber security leaders are expected to change jobs by 2025. A quarter said they planned to leave the industry to pursue different roles entirely.

A key factor in this, the study warned, was work-related stress, but still reflects broader industry turnover trends.

High turnover rates in the tech industry have become a recurring problem in recent years, and the issue can have serious implications for businesses.

Chris Goudling, MD of specialist HR recruitment firm Wade Macdonald, recently told ITPro that a high turnover of talented staff can cause irreversible reputational damage.

Turnover rates might also be indicative of a poor workplace culture, Goulding warned.

"It should be treated like the red flag it is," he told ITPro.

Emma Woollacott

Emma Woollacott is a freelance journalist writing for publications including the BBC, Private Eye, Forbes, Raconteur and specialist technology titles.