GUEST BLOG: In this contributed blog post, Jim Bowers, security architect at TBI, discusses how tech firms can hold on to skilled IT talent in the wake of the Great Resignation.
The tech shortage is at its peak, with the number of unfilled roles increasing to almost 38% and no relief in site.
IT departments have always been stretched thin, prompting early retirement for some workers and frequent job-hopping for others. Since the pandemic though, they’ve been hit even harder. Small and medium-sized businesses are seeing the most empty chairs in departments responsible for cybersecurity, digital infrastructure, data centers, wide-area networks, cloud initiatives and other mission-critical IT functions.
And the timing could not be worse. Ransomware attacks are once again on the rise following a period in that noted a 400% increase in cybercrime—much of it aimed at businesses of every size.
No business wants to lose IT professionals, especially those specializing in security right now. But new research suggests that the exodus of IT workers could actually accelerate this year, which would leave companies vulnerable to attackers and behind the curve in adopting cutting-edge, new cybersecurity solutions that are desperately needed to keep up with the pace and volume of attacks.
But many companies can do a better job of holding on to their coveted IT pros. By better understanding the demands of the job, and modifying systems and processes, businesses can experience less turnover in their IT departments.
Here are three steps companies can take to hold on to the IT professionals they need:
Embrace co-managed services
Outsourcing used to provoke anxiety, as the practice made IT pros worry about their job security and a potential loss of control to managed service providers. But all this has changed with a new outsourcing model known as co-managed services.
Under the new model, IT departments maintain more control of the tasks that are delegated to managed service providers, and companies have more visibility into who is taking on exactly which tasks. This means IT departments can more easily offload the repetitive, time-consuming work they don’t want while keeping the work they do want. Companies not yet outsourcing to a co-managed service provider should consider doing so to make their current employees’ workload more manageable.
Enable IT workers with education
Among the many demands of the IT profession is the need to constantly update one’s certifications and education. Technology changes quickly, and so do the educational and training requirements for IT departments.
Some companies worry that a more qualified, better educated worker will be more inclined to jump ship for another opportunity. That’s why businesses should offer a deal: We finance your continued education in the field of IT, and in exchange, you stay with the company for X amount of time.
Pursuing a strategy like this means offering something valuable to the IT pro, but without fear he or she will use it somewhere else.
Streamline technology and processes
Understanding the life of the IT worker can go a long way toward keeping that person at your company. And the first thing to understand is that this person is overworked. Because of staffing constraints, the average IT pro works beyond their actual job description causing burnout. In fact, 39% of employees report feeling exhausted. More recently however, the pandemic and “work-from-anywhere” trend has accelerated the move of applications to the cloud, changing the whole methodology of the IT industry.
It’s a demanding job, and anything you can do to simplify it—and take work off of IT professionals’ plates—can reduce turnover.
Looking over your whole IT operation, ask which technologies could be removed altogether, and which others could be consolidated. Can the weekly vulnerability scan be done monthly instead? Is there a way to streamline patch management or backups? A thorough assessment like this may be exacting and time-consuming, but it’s worth it.
There is a reason the worker shortage has hit IT especially hard: Many companies expect these professionals to have superhuman abilities and to work around the clock.
By right-sizing their workload, understanding their day-to-day life, supporting their ongoing education and taking other steps, companies can get better at preventing IT pros from seeking greener pastures.