by Scott Jack
Content Contributor, E-N Computers
7+ years experience in healthcare IT and tech support.
Employee turnover is a normal part of running a business but presents some risks. Each person on your team contributes to its success. And virtually everyone in the company relies on technology to some degree. Likely, your business is using a combination of servers, workstations, phone and camera systems, and industry-specific hardware or software, all of which your IT employee is responsible for supporting and maintaining. As a result, the departure of an IT employee can create difficulties for the business.
Therefore, it’s worthwhile to consider the risks associated with IT employee turnover in particular. What are some of the reasons they leave companies? What effects can their departure have on the organization? And how can you reduce the associated operational risks? In this article, we will consider the answer to those questions.
A departing IT employee can present several problems for your organization, including:
- Loss of institutional knowledge.
- A struggle to find a qualified replacement.
- Cybersecurity and operational risks.
These challenges can be overcome by partnering with an IT service provider, who can provide depth and experience to supplement your in-house IT teams and smooth over employee transitions.
Causes of IT Staff Departures
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median tenure for an employee in “computer and mathematical occupations”—which includes IT professionals—is 3.9 years. This is both lower than the median for all workers and the lowest length of tenure for this occupational field in the last decade. What are some reasons IT workers leave companies?
Turnover is often broken up into two categories: voluntary and involuntary. Involuntary separations are usually initiated by an employer, such as with restructuring, layoffs, a violation of policy, or not being a good fit for the company culture. It could involve disability separation if a medical condition leaves them unable to perform their work duties. But what are some reasons an IT employee may leave voluntarily?
There are several reasons an IT professional may choose to leave. As the sole person responsible for planning, maintaining, and supporting your IT infrastructure, they may burn out and look for a job with more distributed responsibilities and a better work-life balance. After gaining some experience with your company, they may decide it is time to move into a more specialized position. Personal reasons such as relocating to care for family or support a spouse’s career may cause them to leave. Or they may simply find better compensation elsewhere. Whatever reason is behind it, the departure of a solo IT specialist can present some challenges.
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Effects of IT Staff Departures
Once your IT employee gives notice that they are leaving, the challenges begin. There are at least three challenges their departure creates. Those challenges are 1) hiring a replacement, 2) facilitating knowledge transfer, and 3) securing your systems while maintaining access. Let’s take a quick look at each.
First, we have the challenge of hiring a replacement IT person in a limited time. Most likely, you will only receive two weeks’ notice from your current IT staff. This puts many employers in a scramble to find a suitable replacement. Realistically, though, it can be difficult to find and vet qualified candidates in such a limited time frame. Unfortunately, the alternative is running your IT infrastructure without any support or maintenance—hoping that no one needs assistance and there are no system failures—until you can find a new hire.
The second challenge you may face is facilitating knowledge transfer. Your current IT person carries a working knowledge of your systems including passwords, configurations, and other peculiarities of your systems. However, in their regular day-to-day routine, they likely have limited time to properly document everything. If they cannot finish documentation or train a new hire before their departure date, you can end up losing a significant amount of institutional knowledge. This makes it more difficult for the next person to become familiar with your infrastructure and can impede business operations.
Third, it is best practice to secure your systems after an employee departure by changing passwords or disabling accounts they had access to. Likely, your IT staff has access to all of your network infrastructure and related vendor accounts. This gives them the ability to continue making changes remotely even after they are gone. Although departing employees do not normally abuse this access, it is in your best interests to prevent the possibility. However, haphazardly changing passwords and disabling accounts can have unintended consequences. This is because some accounts may be used to run automated background services like backups or monitoring your network.
Reduce Your Risk of IT Turnover
A managed service provider can help you mitigate the risks of an IT employee leaving. When you have a managed IT services contract, you have support in hiring, documentation, and running secure, accessible systems. Consider how an MSP can help in each of these areas.
First, we can assist you in the replacement process. You may decide to take a departure as an opportunity to assess and adjust the position you want to fill. Knowing that we are here to maintain your technology systems, you may choose to focus your search on a business analyst or information manager—someone who can help you get the most value out of your stored data. On the other hand, you might determine that keeping an on-site IT specialist best fits your needs. And in either case, we can help you evaluate applicants and choose the best fit for your company.
We are also able to complement your IT staff in a variety of ways; we call this co-managed IT. With this type of arrangement, we assist with strategic IT planning so that your technology roadmap is aligned with your business goals. We include project management with every project you purchase through us so that new technologies are implemented smoothly. And we provide support for more complex technical issues that your on-site staff is not able to resolve.
Second, we can make sure you have proper documentation in place. When we first start with a new client, we take time to document each system so that we can provide exceptional service. In fact, if your IT employee is leaving, we can come in, document everything, and be ready to support you within two weeks. As a result, we can facilitate knowledge transfer and relieve the pressure to find a new IT person immediately.
In addition to proper documentation, our larger team of technicians provides you with continuity of support. If one of our employees leaves, the service you receive will not be adversely affected. The rest of our team has the knowledge, skills, and documentation on your systems to address any issues that arise. Overall, teaming up with a managed service provider like E-N Computers can give you more flexibility and resilience when dealing with an IT employee’s departure.
How E-N Computers Measures Up
If you’re considering partnering with us as your managed service provider, you might wonder what our tenure with clients is like. We are proud to have worked with many of our clients for years. They have come to rely on the proactive approach we take to monitoring, maintaining, planning, and implementing their systems. Consider a few numbers.
As of July 2021, our clients have been with us an average of 5.2 years. When you exclude our newer customers that have been with us less than a year, the average is 6.4 years. Nearly half of our clients have been with us over 5 years. Our longest relationship providing managed IT services is double that, at 12.8 years. Over 20% of our clients have been with us 10 years. We truly appreciate the trust they place in us.
Our goal is to build long-standing partnerships with our clients by providing high-quality IT services that meet your business needs. With this kind of relationship, you have the assurance that your organization will continue to receive exceptional customer service even when your IT staff departs.
Next Steps: Learn More About Managed IT Services
Our managed IT services are designed to meet the needs of small and medium businesses. For some, we are their primary source of IT support. For others, we work in tandem with their on-site IT staff. Which arrangement is best for your business? You will find some useful insight in the article, “Should I Build or Buy an IT Department?”
If you already have an IT specialist on staff, you can still benefit from partnering with a managed service provider like E-N Computers. That’s because we supplement your staff’s skills with consulting, monitoring, automation, and other services that can help them be more effective in their role. To learn more about how we can work with your existing staff, you can read our article, “Why Your Team Needs Co-Managed IT”.
Building a partnership with an MSP early is a proactive step you can take to reduce the effects of eventual IT employee turnover. If your employee has already given notice, though, contact us right away so we can help you have as smooth a transition as possible. We welcome the opportunity to build a relationship that will help your business grow and thrive. Contact us today.