How MSPs can bridge the IT talent gap


By Nikhil Korgaonkar, Regional Director, Arcserve India & SAARC

Companies seeking to hire tech talent are facing a perfect storm. Organizations across sectors are experiencing a sudden surge in demand for digital client services due to the pandemic and the changes it has brought. Meanwhile, recruiting and retaining IT professionals has never been more challenging.

A new survey reveals that nearly three-quarters (73%) of senior IT leaders agree that acquiring IT talent has never been more challenging. Recent workplace trends like “quiet quitting” and the Great Resignation have exacerbated this problem. Indeed, research firm Gartner found that only 29% of IT workers intend to stay with their current employers, making them more inclined to quit their jobs than non-IT employees.

This talent shortage is a problem across IT, including cybersecurity. While cyberattacks are increasing—the World Economic Forum reported at Davos this year that global cyberattacks jumped 125% in 2021—the number of qualified professionals available to repel attackers is not.

Most of these attacks target small businesses—SMBs are three times more likely to be attacked than large organizations—and small businesses face challenges in attracting and retaining cybersecurity professionals. They can’t pay as much and can offer fewer opportunities for advancement.

To cope, many SMBs are turning to MSPs because they can provide the resources SMBs need to tackle the IT and cybersecurity challenges small businesses face. In turn, MSPs are trying to beef up their operations to help their customers deal with the global shortage of IT expertise.

They’re trying but not always succeeding. Many MSPs are having a tough time hiring the IT experts they need. They often go toe-to-toe with global tech firms for talent, which is a tough ask. About 20% of MSPs report that retaining staff is a significant challenge.

More than ever, running successful MSP organizations hinges on one vital aspect: hiring and keeping good people. Here are three ways MSPs can win the battle to attract and retain top talent.

1: Invest in training and upskilling
If your MSP needs people with specialist skills and you can’t find them in the job market, you can make them yourself. You can train your employees and teach them the skills you need in your business. It’s a win-win because upskilling is considered an attractive feature by employees.

Indeed, a lot of current MSP employees are looking for opportunities to expand their skills and improve their knowledge. Often, they value such opportunities more than an increase in salary, which they know will come later if they make themselves more attractive to employers.

The good news is that many options provide your MSP workers with the skills they want and need. For example, many tech vendors can lend a hand to their MSP partners regarding training and certification. MSPs should seek to work with vendors that go out of their way to help them learn about various products and services. Many vendors offer certification programs that go a long way toward assisting MSPs in upskilling their employees and keeping customers happy. It can keep you one step ahead in recruitment by differentiating your company from your MSP competitors.

2: Focus on your team’s well-being
It is a high-pressure industry. 65% of IT and security professionals say they have thought about leaving their job due to stress. It would help if you were on the lookout for stressed staff because people who are tired and feeling strained don’t perform at their best. It would be best if you adjusted to ensure that your people take care of their well-being, don’t work excessive hours, and are comfortable saying so when they feel overwhelmed.
What are ways you can better support the well-being of your staff? Start by offering a better work-life balance. A key aspect of work-life balance is allowing employees to work from home for a few days weekly. Employees prize the chance to work from home because it will enable them to attend to the demands of life outside work more easily. As we all know, these demands are many. It may be getting kids to school or picking them up after, doing errands, going to the gym, or being home when a contractor shows up. These are easier to manage when people can work from home a few days a week. And all of them can build stress in workers when they go unmanaged.

Another way a few remote days helps employees is by reducing commuting time. The Auto Insurance Center says the average commuter spends about 100 hours commuting and 41 hours sitting in traffic every year. It’s not only a waste of time; it’s a contributor to stress. Research shows that more than 30 minutes of daily one-way commuting is associated with higher stress and anxiety levels and that commuting just 10 miles to work every day is associated with health issues like increased cholesterol, high blood sugar, and depression.
People have proven over the past few years that they can be productive when working remotely. Many of them now expect the opportunity to do so. Those MSPs that give them this opportunity and a comfortable and functional office environment will be better able to hire and keep top talent.

3: Recognize and reward exceptional employees
People value positive reinforcement, and it does a lot to lift their productivity. Being recognized for a job well done boosts employee engagement. It motivates workers to do even better in the future. Humans naturally want to succeed, and they also want to share the feeling of success. Recognizing them for their accomplishments gives them a chance to build bonds as a group and take pride in the achievements of other group members.

When you openly compliment and celebrate workers’ wins, you give those workers the visibility they deserve. Don’t hesitate to send an email or group message on your office messaging platform. Organize a quick virtual awards ceremony. However you do it, ensure your workers know they’re valued.

MSPs should think about creative ways to reward employees who go above and beyond, such as an extra day of PTO or additional stock or equity in the company.

Final thought
The most important contributor to the growth and success of your MSP is your ability to hire people with the skills you need. Focus on training your employees, supporting them, incentivizing and celebrating them, and people around the MSP world will learn about your efforts and want to work for you. You’ll have a happier, more loyal, and more productive workforce. Best of all, you’ll have a successful company.



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