Since it can be very expensive to your company, as well as your Small Business Server clients, when systems engineers leave so quickly that they don’t make a contribution, it’s really important that you do whatever it takes to make sure that your network systems engineers are kept happy… so you can maximize your network systems engineers staff retention.
So what do small business computer resellers and systems integrators typically do to manage the enormous turnover challenge and its associated costs with network systems engineers?
Develop well-defined career paths for network systems engineers and other key technical employees.
No one, especially your highly-motivated network systems engineers, wants to feel like their career is being held-back, or that their options are being “blocked”.
Make sure each person on staff, especially network systems engineers, has a well-defined career path within your company. You may also want to supplement this with some type of mentoring program. (This can be as simple as pairing up a new hire with a more senior staff member for “doing lunch”, at the company’s expense, once every month or two.) You may also want to have each staff member and their direct supervisor mutually revise the staff member’s job description at least twice a year.
Insist on an open-door policy.
Each staff member, especially network systems engineers, should have a direct pipeline into the “top brass” in the company. There’s nothing more frustrating than a small company with big-company bureaucracy and politics.
Provide regular feedback and compensation increases.
Most IT service firms, both large and small, have recognized that the concept of an “annual” review is no longer frequent enough for industries moving at “Internet speed.” This process should also include frequent merit and competitive adjustments to salary. Make sure to be proactive about this process. Often times, small gestures go a long way toward showing your network systems engineers and other key technical staff that you are truly on their side.
Set the right goals.
There’s always a fine line between scheduling aggressively to fully-utilize your network systems engineer staff and burning them out with long weeks and excessively high pressure. It’s important to have realistic goals and deadlines, as well as some type of “relief valve” to combat the demands of long hours.
Provide training and encourage learning.
For network systems engineers and other technical staff, staying trained and working with leading-edge technology often tops the list for what drives job satisfaction.
In looking at how choice assignments are doled out and how training resources are allocated, it’s crucial to stress teamwork, cross training, and camaraderie in the continual peer-to-peer learning process.
There’s nothing more frustrating to technical staff, like your network systems engineers, when one person has the “keys to the kingdom” and that one person refuses to share their knowledge with others.
Make sure to reward employees, not just for what they know, but also for how effectively they share their knowledge with others.
During tough times, keep the channels open.
Make sure to keep your staff in the loop during tough financial times and during potential buyouts and takeovers. It’s important to be honest about what’s going on and to let them know what steps you’re taking to protect their interests.
Reevaluate your bonuses and benefits, and increase their levels substantially based on length of your service with your firm. Fortune 1000 companies traditionally increased the paid-vacation benefit after five years. For your firm, it may be more appropriate to increase the amount of paid vacation after two or three years, rather than waiting for five. Also, develop bonus programs that are tied to staff, especially your network system engineers, staying on to complete certain pre-defined strategic projects.
(These types of bonus programs can actually save your company a great deal, as staff downtime with network systems engineers, during the middle of a major project can be extraordinarily expensive.)
Make your company a “fun” place to work.
When the workload pressure gets intense, or when the excitement level begins to dwindle during repetitive roll outs, it’s important to remember the need to make your firm a “cool” place to work. While it’s always “fun” for staff to receive big bonus checks, your staff, even network systems engineers, may really enjoy playing on company-sponsored softball or bowling teams, or paintball outings.
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