“Charlie’s leaving. He got a job as a Level 3 Engineer at Elcom.”
The news hit the entire team hard. Charlie had been a lead tech for six years and was like a big brother to the entire group. Anytime there was a question or a challenge in the IT department, Charlie could be counted on to jump in and get it fixed. He spent many evenings in the book store and online learning about new technology. If he didn’t know how to fix a problem at first glance, you could be sure it wouldn’t take him long to learn. But after years of the same work, he was feeling uninspired and bored. Charlie had the most senior technical role on the team but the work didn’t seem to change. Management didn’t provide any guidance for continuing education, which is why Charlie spent so much time teaching himself new things. He even offered to put together a hardware refresh plan for the CIO on his own time, but was denied.
“He was so bored here…and we all know he was capable of doing so much more. It’s a shame management didn’t see how talented he was. Oh well…Elcom just hired themselves a heck of an engineer…”
If you find a great employee, then focus on keeping them as part of your organization. While some turnover is inevitable in any business as employees look for new challenges, you certainly should be proactive in trying to keep talent in house. There are a number of ways that you can make your company attractive to current employees that extend beyond financial compensation. Here are five suggestions to help ensure that your top technical talent remains with your organization instead of looking for new opportunities somewhere else.
- Offer a path. By far, the best way to keep great technical talent in your organization is to offer the person a career path and not just a job. Waiting until an annual review to discuss the future is waiting too long. At least once every two months you should be working with technicians to scope out a plan for them in the coming years. Are you helping them earn more certifications and gain more knowledge? Are they being given additional responsibilities? Are you helping chart a path that helps the individual reach their own professional goals? If your technicians are sitting at their desks every day doing the same work for the same clients then they will soon get bored and begin looking for more interesting opportunities. You can offer those opportunities! All it takes is clear communication and a little planning. Help create career plans for your technicians and work to keep them on track.
- Keep an eye out. Make sure each technician or employee is connected to you on LinkedIn. Regularly pay attention to any new companies they “follow” or any updates to their profile and resume. A sudden interest in other companies and/or an updated professional profile could be a sign that the employee is looking for other opportunities. Finding a way to address their unhappiness or job dissatisfaction as soon as you become aware of it is to your advantage.
- Leave the lines open. If your technicians trust that you are looking out for their best interests and care about their professional well-being, they are more likely to approach you directly if they are unhappy or considering leaving. If a technician is starting to look for new opportunities, you have a chance to keep them. If they are already interviewing, then you are on the cusp of losing them. Time is of the essence as you have a limited opportunity to convince them to stay. You are much better off fostering an environment where a technician comes to you before they start searching LinkedIn for job prospects, rather than after they’ve had a few interviews and become enamored with other available opportunities.
- Make things interesting. Just like young surgeons learn by sitting in on and assisting with new procedures, so too should your technicians be learning new technology. Find ways to keep your technicians professionally engaged. For example, a Tier 1 Help Desk technician isn’t likely to be able to help consolidate an Active Directory forest on their own. But if a more senior technician is doing that type of work, find a way for the Tier 1 tech to see what is going on and learn from it. The capacity of humans to learn through doing is great. Give your technicians a chance to “stretch their legs” on new and interesting work that falls outside of their immediate job description. Mentor programs are one of the best ways to get employees working together in new and interesting situations.
- Give experiences. There is a saying that a raise in pay is only a raise for a month. After that, it’s just your paycheck. While a raise is an excellent way to show appreciation for a job well done or to reflect a promotion, most employees will absorb a pay raise into their cost of living and the intended effect of continued employee happiness will eventually subside. While offering an increase in pay is useful in many instances, don’t go forward thinking the only way to recognize employees is to increase the size of their paychecks. Instead, offer to pay for travel and registration at an interesting industry conference or event. Surprise a group of employees by sending them to see a movie on Friday afternoon. Have lunch brought in to the office on regular occasions. Hold contests for prizes that employees might not otherwise buy for themselves. Of course everyone would like to have a larger paycheck, but smaller (and less expensive gestures) can go a long way in keeping employees happy and ultimately retaining them. If an employee is considering leaving your organization, you want to give them as many things to think about as possible, including how much they enjoy the culture and experience of your company.
Finding great technicians for your team is a complicated task. From recruiting and interviewing talent, to hiring and integrating new employees into your corporate culture, getting the right mix of skills and personalities is a significant challenge. That’s why losing a technical team member can be a huge blow not just to the services you are able to offer but to your operational efficiency, as well. Restarting the process of locating, hiring, and installing a new technician is frustrating and time consuming. Increasing technician loyalty is vital to keeping your best technical talent in-house. As the adage goes, “The best customer is an existing customer,” and the same can be said about technicians; a quality technical resource already on your team is a substantial advantage over having an empty seat to fill. To learn how our team of skilled technicians at Mosaic NetworX work together to solve challenges and problems for clients in a variety of sectors, contact us today!