A Little TLC Goes a Long Way Toward Staff Retention

Good help is often hard to find and even harder to keep.

Karen Riccio

May 16, 2017

4 Min Read
An employee walks past servers in the Facebook data center in Forest City, North Carolina.
An employee walks past servers in the Facebook data center in Forest City, North Carolina. (Photo by Rainier Ehrhardt/Getty Images)Rainier Ehrhardt/Getty Images)

Good help is often hard to find and even harder to keep. That’s why it makes sense for you to make consistent efforts to increase positive attitudes and retention by taking a few extra morale-building steps.

When you and your organization are effective talent magnets, good employees stick around rather than look for work elsewhere.

That combination—getting and sustaining a top talent pool—is at least one of the top two or three concerns on the minds of CIOs today. So, how can you attract and hire the best talent, engage their commitment and loyalty, and retain them for longer periods of time?

Here are some tips from Brian Carlsen, a speaker and consultant with St. Aubin, Haggerty & Associates, Inc., and co-author of “Attract, Engage and Retain Top Talent.”

Notice them. Think of the supervisors and staff who work for you. Which of them are easy to work with and have the potential to grow? Who exhibits the qualities you need in a technology team member? When you identify people like this, tell them how valuable they are to you and the organization. This is how to become a career mentor.

Mentor them. When you know you want to keep someone, be creative about ways to keep him or her around. Make it a point to learn their interests and career goals. Then, help them do it. For example, in the DSC Logistics data center, one person showed potential and wanted to go back to school in computer science. The company rearranged his schedule to work part-time and certain nights so that he could keep working while also getting his degree. This helped DSC Logistics to hang onto him as he continued his education.

Invest and re-invest. Before any large-scale process or technology change, ask yourself: How does this affect my staff? According to a Seachdatacenter.com article, “Staffing Often Overlooked During Platform Migration,” the data center of San Mateo County in California pulled off a migration that saved the data center $500,000 the first year. The data center then reinvested much of that money back into its staff by retraining current workers and bringing in new people, including a systems programmer.

Connect them. U.S. Oncology is the nation’s leading healthcare services network dedicated exclusively to cancer treatment and research. The management team at US Oncology reduced voluntary turnover across IT from 25 percent to 10 percent in just one year through a broad range of initiatives in response to an employee engagement survey. Several of those initiatives are designed to help connect technology staff to their colleagues, their leaders and the greater organization and its customers. For example, the department formed action committees to help staff connect across groups and focus on retention. The company holds new employee luncheons to talk about the culture and mission of the organization. That’s because IT people are often far removed from the organization’s mission of advancing cancer care in America. Consequently, it’s important to go over why what they do is important to the mission of the company.

Manage the interface. Your most talented data center personnel share the outlook of other good performers…they want a manager that shows them respect, helps them remove barriers, and gets out of the way so they can get the work done. An obstacle to job satisfaction that your data center staff may frequently encounter is abrasive interactions with technology specialists in other units. They may or may not be equipped to handle these interactions well. While you may not enjoy this part of the job, it may be one of the most important things you do during the day.

Communicate. People want to know what is going on. Data center staff may feel they are working in isolation. Yet, people want to be connected. You can never communicate enough; employees may think you are holding something back when communication is absent. Communicate through group meetings and individually. The more you do this with your staff the more it contributes to higher levels of trust; you in them and they in you.

Thank them. An easy thing to do (but a hard thing to remember) is to simply thank people. When people are appreciated, they often give extra effort and say more positive things about their work and their colleagues. In some organizations, the cultural norm is to tell people when they are doing something wrong, and stay silent when there is no problem. Magnetic power is created when you tell someone that he or she is doing something right. Easy, high-gain ways to show your appreciation include sending frequent, sincere thank you notes, talking about the good things that people are doing, and acknowledging your staff publicly—internally and externally.

A focus on any one of these areas can add strength to your magnetic pull on mission-critical employees. Your team wants to work with good leaders and colleagues who appreciate them, treat them with respect and help them be more fulfilled in their work life. A well-intended effort to retain and engage your current staff members may have a more positive impact than you can imagine.

Subscribe to the Data Center Knowledge Newsletter
Get analysis and expert insight on the latest in data center business and technology delivered to your inbox daily.

You May Also Like