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The Straw that Broke the Engineer's Back

April 18, 2016

Skilled, talented, and specialized IT engineers are in short supply– and sometimes it seems as though they have even shorter patience. Employee retention for IT engineering talent can be a major business challenge, and it's one many organizations ignore until it's too late. Organizations need to be proactive about retaining their engineers if they want continuity of network security and service.

 

Why Do Great Engineers Leave Great Companies?

 

Generally, engineers don’t just quit. Instead, engineers will resign for several core reasons, the most major of which is the expectation that they simultaneously perform the role of engineer and operator.

 

While on the surface it may not seem unreasonable to expect an engineer to jump in and manage emergency situations (think system outages) it requires them to abruptly shift their focus. This reduces the attention they can apply to other areas, including:

 

1. Projects critical to business success. IT engineers should be focused on improving and developing the organization's network solutions and internal efficiencies, rather than simply putting out fires.

 

2. Meetings with management and IT teams. Communication is incredibly important when it comes to IT development; missing meetings leads to confusion and frustration.

 

3. Encroachment on their personal lives. Job satisfaction quickly falls when engineers feel as though they don't have any time for themselves and their families. No salary can make up for these lost experiences and engineers are increasingly looking for a healthy work life balance.

 

It’s no wonder engineers feel as though they are forced to resign– but likewise, it's also easy to see why these resignations can come as a surprise. A manager may feel as though an engineer is simply living up to their job description, when in reality they are completing entirely different tasks. This sudden departure by an IT engineer can leave as business without a plan for transition, in addition to lacking in documentation and successor training.

 

Protecting Your Business from Engineer Abandonment

 

Now that the driving factors regarding engineer abandonment have been discussed, what can you do about it? You need to be proactive if you want to retain your IT effectiveness.

 

1. Implement ways to reduce the number of operational distractions your engineers experience.

 

2. Create documentation plans early on so transitioning between engineers isn’t as difficult an experience.

 

3. Touch base with your engineering staff to make sure they have the resources they need to execute on time and within budget.

 

4. Draw a line between engineering and operator roles and deploy operators for non-essential tasks.

 

Losing IT engineering staff is a very real problem many businesses face. However, there are ways to reduce the risk factors that lead to this abandonment in addition to making it easier to transition following the departure of core IT leadership. Appropriate planning reduces many of these problems.

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