How To Balance The Need And Rising Costs Of Hiring Skilled Techs

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No matter what business you’re in, the term “cost-effective” has likely become an important descriptor for your operations and a standard part of your company’s vocabulary. And why shouldn’t it be? After all, you’re in business, in large part, to make a profit. How then, do you deal with the rising cost of hiring skilled techs? You know, the ones whose contributions will really help your company grow.

The Cost Of Hiring Skilled Techs

The average helpdesk support salary in the US is around $55K. When taxes, worker compensation and a whole range of fringe benefits are added to that number, total expenditures for each of these valuable employees can easily surpass $100,000 per person annually. In fact, this estimate applies to the average IT specialist, so managed service providers (MSPs) and/or managed security service providers (MSSPs) can expect costs associated with recruiting, onboarding and retaining top tier employees to be even higher.

To add to this, in order to motivate front-line personnel effectively, a well-designed bonus program is a must. Cash bonuses and a stake in the company are the most common incentives for would-be employees, so the cost of these should also be part of the equation when considering a new hire.

When all the costs required to attract and keep top talent are added up, it’s obvious that skilled employees are among the most significant investments an organization can make.

Fact: since every new helpdesk or tech support employee is a six-figure investment waiting to happen, your appraisal and screening process should be as comprehensive as it is for a capital expenditure!

Questions Every MSP or MSSP Should Consider Pre-Hire

If your company has total confidence that its revenue projections will easily support the addition of a full-time hire, the choice to do so will be an easy one. That being said, a number of factors must be properly assessed for most companies to achieve this level of confidence.

Even when team productivity is maximized, MSPs and MSSPs should assess their sales and support needs for the next three to six months to determine whether hiring more skilled professionals makes sound financial sense or not.

Before signing off on a new hire, every MSP/MSSP should consider the following questions:

1. Does your company have enough resources to fulfill current SLAs?

SLAs are a foundational agreement between your IT team and your customers which, when adequately fulfilled, helps build trust in your company. With SLAs in place, there is mutual understanding of service expectations. But when your company is not capable of meeting them, whether due to lack of capacity or some other issue, it has an overall negative impact on your reputation, your sales, and your business overall.

2. Could existing staff be reassigned in a way that both boosts productivity and eliminates the need for a new hire?

From writing an accurate job description to identifying the right candidates, to proceeding with onboarding, new hires take work. But since your typical MSP lacks a dedicated HR department, the owner or office manager often ends up burdened with these responsibilities, often without formal training. So whenever possible, learn to redeploy the team you have in more effective ways.

5. How many new client contracts would you need to pay the annual salary of a new tech?

In its 2016 Human Capital Benchmarking Report, the SHRM estimated that companies spend an average of 42 days to fill a position and $4,129 per hire (that’s before they’re actually hired). Plus, it can take up to six months or more for a company to break even on its investment in a new hire.

6. Is there an adequate pool of skilled, local candidates?

According to a report from Gartner, a talent shortage is believed to be the largest obstacle to 64% of new tech companies wish to adopt. The problem also extends to computer infrastructure, platform services, networking, security, storage and databases.

7. Could new or existing competitors (local or national) threaten your current and future sales projections?

While you’re crunching those numbers, also consider that the biggest issue affecting many MSPs and MSSPs is competitor-induced turnover. What happens if, after investing time and energy in recruiting, training, and other onboarding costs, your new hire leaves for a bigger company? Non-compete clauses can help, but there are few things you can do to protect your training investments.

8. Would outsourcing at least part of your helpdesk be a more cost-effective solution to multiple problems at once?

MSPs and MSSPs have to focus on the activities that will address their specific labor needs. When new hires are not an option, outsourcing becomes an attractive alternative. The right third-party agency can provide the necessary skilled specialists when and where they’re needed!

9. How outsourcing your helpdesk can, well…help

If hiring a full-time employee seems a bit too risky right now, outsourcing your helpdesk is a highly practical alternative. The right partner will complement your company’s existing services, filling gaps in coverage and rounding out the skillset of your existing support team. They’ll monitor and meet SLAs to ensure each client receives the proper level of attention, regardless of your current capacity, and they’ll do it 24/7/365, something your current helpdesk likely can’t manage.

Although the decision to hire or outsource can be a tough one, after reviewing the costs and benefits of every available option, many service providers end up deciding to outsource their helpdesks as a cost-effective way of providing first-line white-labeled support. By extension, this frees up their in-house talent to focus on critical client issues and new business opportunities. This newfound flexibility has allowed many an MSP and MSSP to focus more attention on building their business, rather than spending the majority of their time and resources on monotonous routine operations.

If improving your business’ productivity is no longer an option and you’re painstakingly weighing all possible solutions, don’t forget to consider the game-changing possibilities that an outsourced help desk can offer your company!

To find out more about how outsourcing your helpdesk can benefit your clients and staff, and help you grow your business, check out this guide.

Guest blog courtesy of Sherweb. Regularly contributed guest blogs are part of MSSP Alert’s sponsorship program.