How technician turnover may affect MSP businesses
One of the biggest challenges managed services providers (MSPs) will face is finding and retaining skilled technicians. Good employees are the making of any successful business. They drive results and—particularly in the case of IT technicians—they’re the face of the company and represent your ability to provide good customer support.
A brilliant technician will not only have technical expertise but will be able to solve problems rapidly and with minimal mistakes. They will excel at customer service and customers will ask for them time and time again. And critically, they know all your processes and likely store critical customer and company information in their heads. Finding exemplary technicians who tick all these boxes can be difficult. There are some steps you can take to help reduce employee turnover, but the reality is that some amount of turnover is natural and inevitable.
This guide will outline the importance of technicians to daily operations and the long-term success of MSP business, how you can achieve high rates of employee and technician retention, the potential risks associated with employees leaving your company (either temporarily or permanently), and how you can mitigate the risk of employee departure.
The Importance of technicians
Technicians wield a great deal of power. They hold administrator privileges on customer servers, often for multiple customers simultaneously—which means they have access to private data, passwords, user account information, and sensitive security settings. MSP technicians are, to a certain extent, the gatekeepers to your IT security. Given that a security breach can potentially cripple or ruin an organization altogether, it goes without saying that technicians play an extremely important role.
The amount of power and responsibility wielded by technicians naturally comes with some security risks. It’s for this reason that hiring and retaining trustworthy and professional technicians who understand the full extent of their responsibility (and the risks associated with it) is so crucial to the success of your business. And just as it’s incredibly important for you to hire and train well, it’s also crucial for you to minimize the possibility of your technicians retaining power after they leave your organization.
Technician turnover risks
When technicians leave a company, either temporarily or permanently, the risk to your IT security can increase. When a technician goes on holiday, falls sick, takes leave, or leaves your company, MSPs and their remaining employees are left with a challenging task. While they preserve business continuity in the technician’s absence or in the wake of their departure, they also need to ensure their absence has not created any security vulnerabilities. While this may sound easy at first glance, these tasks can be impossible if you haven’t taken the right measures.
Here are just a few examples of common situations that illustrate how a technician’s departure can affect your business:
- The technician was the only individual with a robust understanding of essential software used on a day-to-day basis
- The technician was the only individual familiar with an IT documentation system, which makes it time-consuming if not impossible to locate the necessary files, data, and knowledge in their absence
- The technician knows the passwords and retains access to important systems, giving them the opportunity to compromise company security
- The technician devised the company passwords and has been reusing them for personal accounts
- The technician is disgruntled and makes sensitive data accessible to the public, potentially damaging your reputation and putting your business at risk
To mitigate these risks, there are a few key things you can work on. First, you can try to retain top-performing technicians. Creating a positive work environment will not only encourage your best technicians to stay, but it can also increase productivity and minimize the risk of disgruntled ex-employees later down the line. Second, your MSP should take measures to standardize processes and train all technicians on the relevant software to help ensure your business operations still function seamlessly when key technicians go on vacation or are out of office. Finally, you can proactively implement powerful password management and IT documentation tools to help minimize risks when your employees exit the company—and to make it as easy as possible to onboard new staff.
A focus on employee retention
It’s no secret that the greater tech industry is currently doing exceedingly well, creating more jobs than there are technicians available to fill. In fact, the tech industry has the highest employee turnover rate, at 13.2%. This means it’s an employee’s market and, if employers hope to retain top talent, they must take measures to improve their offering and make their company a great place to work.
Successfully retaining employees, however, requires more than simply offering competitive benefits. It also involves providing a clear and reliable growth track. MSPs that encourage staff to participate in training and attend conferences demonstrate an interest in helping staff achieve their career goals. This also helps you ensure your teams remain abreast of all industry-leading best practices and trends—helping make your business more efficient, profitable, and relevant.
There are several factors that contribute to low employee turnover and high employee satisfaction. The key contributors are better salary, improved work-life balance, and demonstrating value. While salary is certainly an important factor, don’t overestimate it. A survey conducted by management consulting firm Korn Ferry found that the majority of those changing jobs cited boredom and the need for new challenges as the top reason they chose to leave—the search for a larger salary was only the fourth most common reason. As such, MSPs should focus on keeping employees engaged and satisfied before reconsidering compensation decisions.
Another study found that 80% of staff who were offered flexible working conditions (affording them a better work-life balance) said they were happy with their job, compared to just 55% of employees without flexible working practices. These figures demonstrate that a better salary isn’t the be all and end all for employees.
To retain your technicians, consider how you can demonstrate you’re invested in them and their future, and how you can provide them with a better work-life balance. Here are some suggestions for how you can achieve this:
- Offer in-house training or encourage external conferences to keep your staff engaged and constantly learning
- Offer benefits for your staff and staff appropriately for your ticket demand or client base
- Promote from within where possible
- Give your employees the option of flexible working (i.e., allow them to work from home)
- Offer competitive wages and promotions in line with the industry average
Preserving business continuity in the face of technician departure
When key technicians go on vacation, are out of office, have an appointment, or leave the company completely, MSPs face the challenge of safeguarding business continuity. When a technician leaves, it’s your responsibility to ensure valuable and sensitive data continues to be secure, stored appropriately, protected, and usable so that business operations are not interrupted.
One of the best ways to help achieve business continuity in the event of a technician’s departure is to standardize knowledge sharing. This can be achieved by doing the following:
- Conducting in-house staff training to get all techs up to speed on all protocols
- Utilizing centralized software for all client network systems, passwords, documentation for all technicians to use
When knowledge is stored securely and shared appropriately, you not only help ensure minimal disruption when a technician leaves, you also increase collaboration and efficiency. By making critical customer information accessible to the relevant parties—and only granting access where needed—your MSP can provide faster service delivery and keep your technicians focused.
Risk mitigation when key technicians leave
Finally, to mitigate the risks associated with technicians leaving, your company should have a robust and comprehensive internal risk mitigation plan in place. This plan should focus on constantly ensuring that all technicians have the appropriate level of access and are held accountable for their actions, which can be achieved by implementing the following:
- Granular permission-level setting and immutable audit trails, allowing you to monitor technician activity as needed
- Password change automation, saving countless hours spent resetting passwords by using a centralized system for thousands of sensitive credentials
- The enforcement of a zero-trust model to ensure that your MSP will not trust anyone with unencumbered access
- The utilization of a strong multi-factor authentication solution for access verification
These measures and policies can help reduce liability risks and save you time in the event of technician turnover. By keeping a watchful eye and establishing proactive control over access before any technicians leave, you help ensure you’re prepared whenever technician turnover inevitably occurs. Granular access control helps you maintain security across the entire organization and revoke access quickly when needed.
An IT documentation system that makes turnover a breeze
Having the right software in place is key to protecting your organization when technician turnover occurs. A password management and IT documentation solution plays a critical role in ensuring technician accountability, helping technicians establish good habits designed to maximize security and create a shared knowledge base. N-able™ Passportal™ is a password management and IT documentation solution that was designed specifically for MSPs, delivering cloud-based, integrated, and automated password protection.
Passportal is an encrypted and efficient solution that offers robust reporting, auditing, password change automation, and privileged client documentation management. This tool helps implement best practice password management, storing credentials and knowledge in an encrypted password vault. For added security, the vault is controlled by role-based permissions and multifactor authentication to help ensure technicians can’t gain access after they leave the company.
The Passportal tool also includes an add-on self-service password reset utility, available in the form of a mobile application. This utility is called Passportal Blink, and it enables end users to reset their own passwords at any time, without technician assistance. This results in fewer reset tickets for your team and less productivity downtime for your customers. Importantly, by automating this function, your technicians have fewer tedious password resets to deal with—allowing them to focus on more rewarding tasks that keep them engaged and less likely to quit.
In short, Passportal is easy to use and helps MSPs manage technician turnover safely by facilitating knowledge sharing and enforcing password management best practices. To learn more, a demo of Passportal is available here