5 Keys to Retaining Top Technicians

BY IT GLUE | September 10, 2019

The unemployment rate for IT talent is 1.3%, according to CompTIA research. Let that soak into your prefrontal cortex for a minute.

A statistic like that means that finding outstanding employees can be a time-consuming and expensive nightmare, so when you finally come across someone who can do the job well, you’ll want to keep them for as long as possible. Doing so isn’t always straightforward, and often means that you have to play the part of an HR manager to determine what a specific person needs to want to stick around.

Support Career Goals

Some people are perfectly happy working the same job until retirement—others have greater aspirations. Knowing this is important for determining where someone fits best in your company, and influences your hiring strategy. This can easily be found out during an interview, but let’s face it, not everyone is being genuine in an interview setting. Sometimes this information needs to be brought out after someone has settled in a little bit.

If someone wants to stay in one job for the long-term, it’s about giving them what they need to feel settled and appreciated. If someone is looking to grow their career, you’ll need to give them the tools they need to grow and flourish. One can hope that their career trajectory means they grow within your company but this is never guaranteed. Despite this, employees with ambition can be the ones that bring significant value to your MSP. They will be looking for opportunities to optimize and are often more than willing to take on new responsibility. In addition to this, their behavior can set the tone and set a standard for the rest of employees. Support their growth and establish a fund for each of your employees to draw from for professional development. Make it known that you’re aware of where they want to go with their career and that you’re willing to support them. Your efforts can establish a feeling of loyalty and indebtedness.

Nurture Team Dynamics

In case you’re unaware, humans are social creatures, not robots. Yes, theoretically when you’re working a nine-to-five you’re getting paid to fill a specific role and check things off a to-do list, but no one is living their best life sitting in silence staring at a computer screen. While, getting a paycheque is a big reason why your employees wake up each day and walk into the office, they could be doing similar tasks at any number of companies, so money as an incentive has its limits.

Getting to work with people you know and like is invaluable. Why do you think corporate culture is such a huge part of hiring these days? If you’re aligned with a pre-established culture, you’re more likely to connect with the people sitting in the office with you. Facilitating this is easier said than done, but here are some suggestions on how it can be achieved.

Talk with your employees and let them talk with each other. Sometimes this happens naturally, sometimes you need to create the situations for this to happen. Plan team day activities, or situations where employees have to collaborate and depend on each other. Sometimes making people feel like they’re apart of something can be as simple as having an unofficial uniform, established by giving free company branded apparel. If all else fails, sometimes using a third-party tool like Bonusly can help.

Reward Wins

The gold star reward philosophy isn’t just for preschoolers. When someone goes above and beyond, this shouldn’t go unnoticed and unrecognized. This is the type of behavior you want to encourage from employees. Rewarding wins reinforces when employees go beyond the call of duty, and highlighting them encourages others to follow suit.

It can be something as simple as verbally saying how much you were impressed by or appreciated something done. Or perhaps giving a shout out to an employee during an all-hands meeting. If you want to increase the incentive, you could establish a reward system or even offer extra paid days off.

Prioritize Work-Life Balance

Whether you love or hate your day job, you probably don’t want to be doing it every waking hour, and even if you did, you should stop. Burnout is real and happens to the best of us. Plus having a well established work-life balance leads to general wellbeing, which will likely have a positive impact on the energy and quality of work delivered.

Provide reasonable flexibility with work hours, and considered allowing periodic work-from-home days. It’s unpredictable when that package will arrive from Amazon or when the wifi technician will swing by. Giving your employees the freedom to work from home allows them to fight off porch pirates, and ensure Netflix will continue to stream into their living room. That stuff might not matter to you, but it does to your employees.

Compensate Competitively

At the end of the day, we’re all in the rat race for one primary reason ($$$). Offering salaries below market rates attracts people from the bottom of the talent-pool barrel, and has a myriad of other negative consequences. High turnover, a general feeling of discontent, a workforce that does the bare minimum–the list goes on.

While paying employees far above market rates will attract top talent, you also attract people who are primarily driven by money and will leave for the next highest bidder; not to mention it’s also hard on your bottom line. You’ve got to find the sweet spot.

At the end of the day, great IT techs are hard to find, and hard to keep. But if you do the right things, as we’ve laid out, you’ll have the best possible chance of attracting and retaining the best.

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