How To Retain Your MSP Employees: It's Not As Difficult As You Think

In this blog, we’ll explain why you may be struggling to retain your MSP employees, what causes a lack of productivity, and what you can do to fix it.

As always, these tips may not apply to every situation, but they will work if implemented properly.

Let’s start by setting expectations.

This will NOT be your typical how-to blog. If you expect us to be gentle, this guide is not for you.

What you WILL discover is the harsh truth

but the question is whether you are you ready to hear what you must do to improve your workplace environment, increase productivity, and see your business flourish?

Sound good? Then let’s continue.

Many organisations in the MSP industry have this outdated belief that we don’t need to work hard to retain our employees.

Wrong.

Many leaders fail to remember that their employees are human beings with feelings and that they, themselves, can leave at any time.

Your employees choose to work for you and are there every step of the way.

Every time they show up to work, they are there to help you build a successful future for your MSP business.

It doesn’t take much to show your employees that you are grateful for the effort they put in.

Showing this appreciation will help you retain your employees longer.

We tend to take our staff for granted at times, but as the owner of an MSP company, you know just how important they are to the success of your enterprise.

Think about how much more challenging achieving your business goals would be without every single person who works for your organization and does their part to help you achieve them, whether that be increasing your customer base for greater impact and brand equity in the workplace or just aiming to get a certain amount of turnover a year.

Every member of staff is important to the success of the business, but it’s easy to lose sight of that fact until a dedicated worker leaves the company and their absence is felt.

People are, however, feeling especially exhausted and overworked, which brings us to the concept of quiet quitting, which is explained well in this article by The Guardian.

When we think about the meaning of quiet quitting, a few things come to mind.

Maybe it’s somebody who ghosted the company and stopped showing up, or maybe the employer quit without notice.

It’s not.

Despite the name, quiet quitting has nothing to do with quitting.

It’s described as “doing only what your job demands and nothing more,” as in doing what you are paid to do, without any extra or unpaid work.  

Even though many working-class people are still exhausted after enduring a global pandemic, a new culture has emerged in 2022 in which employers and people of status praise people for overworking and criticize those who are tired of it.

People are exhausted. Can you blame them?

Of course not.

We need to respect their time and show them more kindness and consideration.

Placing unrealistic working standards on our employees will not improve their work ethic. If anything, it will make it worse. Instead, let’s ask them why they are feeling drained and see if there’s anything we can do to help them.

3 Signs of a miserable MSP Employee

This might raise the question, “How do we know when our MSP employees are feeling drained?

Well, we have the answer: there are three tell-tale signs that your worker is unhappy in their position.

A good workplace environment makes good employees.

Your employees should know if they’re doing a good or a bad job. As employers, we contribute a lot more our employee’s behavior and work style than we think.

Our biggest takeaway is to intentionally build relationships with your direct reports by having One-to-Ones.

We must do everything we can to help their development.

 

There is a difference between exhaustion and just having a strong work ethic.

For example, if your employee is constantly knee-deep in work, taking on too many tasks, and seems stressed all the time, that is a dead giveaway; they are feeling burn out.

For anyone, this can only last so long before they start struggling and lose all motivation.

When the employee realises how the job is making them feel, they may withdraw or start looking elsewhere for a new job, but there are ways to combat this…

For example:

  • Mixing in simple and complex tasks, creates variety by allowing employees to work on projects for different clients.
  • Mixing up responsibilities. Never leave the same people stuck doing the least engaging tasks
  • You have noticed a change in attitude. If your employee who was once sociable, bubbly, and motivated has stopped engaging in meetings, interacting with their co-workers much less, or has even been less productive, irritable, or moody at work, this can be a sign that they are becoming  unhappy at work.

Whereas this change may be temporary and due to an issue outside of the workplace…

if it has been going on for a while, you should consider speaking to your employee.

They may feel overworked, dissatisfied with new structures, or unhappy with their current goals.

Happiness is key in an MSP business, and sometimes all you need to do is ask what will help them.

For example, mix up their tasks and arrange times to discuss things with their line manager.

  • They frequently ask for time off

It is acceptable for them to request the appropriate time off.

However, if they have very suddenly been asking for a lot of time off, especially with short notice, it may be because they are unhappy and need time away from work.

If they are feeling down, it may be worth having a conversation with them.

These are not the only signs that someone might be struggling at work. Everybody is different, and each employee will have different situations.

It’s important to keep a lookout and check on them if you notice a shift in their mood.

What do your employers really want?

Sometimes employees can appreciate simple things, such as providing free drinks, free food, etc…

Although they’ll be grateful, these things do not automatically equal happy employees, and they’re also not going to help you retain them in the long term.

This doesn’t mean stop offering simple perks, but many MSP employees have mentioned on discussion threads that they really value benefits such as…

 

  • Mileage reimbursement
  • Ergonomic equipment
  • Gym memberships for mental and general health
  • Insurance coverage
  • Employee lunches
  • Profit-sharing
  • Annual bonuses                              

                                                            

Besides some of the main benefits listed, if you want to retain happy employees, be sure to make them feel like they are part of the team.

Listen to their ideas and encourage them if they show interest in progressing or developing their skills.

Let’s reward our MSP employees when they are successful in projects, scouting a great client, or consistently resolving client issues quickly, instead of taking it for granted.

There are many employee retention strategies you can utilize.

For most employees, it’s not all about money at first.

It takes a lot for them to get to the point where that’s all they care about…

But if we minimize the importance of their mental health and wellbeing, eventually they’ll only be showing up to work because they need the money.

Not because they like their job.

In fact, Inc Magazine found in a recent study that 65% of employees said they would take a new boss over a pay raise.

People care about more than just money; they want a boss with whom they share mutual respect, who keeps them engaged.

If you want to improve your relationship with your employees, one-to-ones are a great way to find out what’s going on with your team and see if there’s anything you can do to improve it.

Benefits of One-to-One’s:

 

  • Helps with productivity
  • Build relationships
  • Maintains Good, open communication
  • Time to focus on your direct report and their work
  • Transform your relationship with your Direct Reports.

 

  • Why are employee retention strategies necessary for your workplace?

  • Reduces Employee Turnover: The most obvious is that it reduces employee turnover. Having trust in your team is essential to running a successful MSP business. You also want them to have the knowledge and skills necessary to keep up with client projects so that your clients remain happy, which only comes with experience.

  • Cost Effective: Hiring and training new employees is expensive, and the cost of replacing an employee can be anywhere between 20-200% of the previous employee’s salary.
  •  Maintains Performance and Productivity: When an employee leaves, they also leave behind a set of responsibilities and tech-based projects that your staff will have to take over in addition to their own responsibilities. This makes it challenging for employees as they must pick up leftover tasks and it can slow down productivity.
  •  Improves Company Morale: If you have unhappy employees, they won’t be willing to go the extra mile to finish a job or satisfy a client’s tech support request.

…They are also less devoted to the company.

You can fix this by using strategies to remind your employees why they chose to work for you in the first place.

You will find examples later in this blog.

  • Inspires Loyalty: MSP Employees don’t quit because they’re unhappy with the company; they quit because of how they are treated.

  • If you can show your employees you care about them and are willing to invest in their success, you have a high chance of inspiring them to stay and strengthening their bond with you and the business.

Improves Company Brand: Your MSP employees are your number one promoter for your business. They are the ones who will talk about your business to other people and on social media, so it’s important to give them something good to talk about.

So, what are some employee retention strategies we can use to keep our employees engaged?

Some of the characteristics of an excellent employer are…

  • Offering training and development programs: By offering to invest in developing your employees’ skills, you are showing them that you care about their future in the company and want to help them grow in the industry.

There are especially sought-after employees in MSP businesses, such as security specialists.

Offering extra training will increase their chances of being happy at the company and reinforce their loyalty.

In fact, on a Reddit discussion thread about some of the most difficult things about working for an MSP business, one user said

“Knowing how to fix an IT issue is about 20% of the skillset you need to run an MSP, and you’ll usually have to learn the other 80% on the job while struggling to put food on the table.”

Which brings us onto our next point…

  • Paying at least minimum wage or more.

Sure, there’s more to being a good employer than the pay…

But your employees rely on you to live, and they’ll likely come into work with a brighter attitude if their personal lives are going smoothly and they can afford to live.

Like the previous comment said, you want to ensure your employees can afford to put food on the table.

This also includes making sure you’re always paying your employees on time.

To avoid issues, always make sure you are managing your company’s finances correctly.

  • Show that you value your employees.

Is your employee depressed or failing to meet targets?

In such a busy environment, you must talk to them, see how they are, if their work experience is going well, and if there’s anything that could be improved for them.

This will help them feel as if work is a safe space for them, and you might notice a shift in their mood and an improvement in their work.

  • Recognizing and valuing potential.

This entails hiring candidates based on observable skills that can be developed on the job, in addition to their qualifications and experience.

Sometimes, hiring employees based on basic skills that can be developed can prove to be among your best decisions.

In the book Help Them Grow, Or Watch Them Go, the authors state that a company with a great culture focuses on growing and developing their staff.

“Do you ever hear stories about employees staying at the company for years and getting promoted into different roles? Or about companies investing in training programs to keep employees’ skills up to date? Well, this may be an indication that the company is willing to invest in its own people.”

  • If you have a mutually respectful work culture and your MSP employees care about each other’s development and wellbeing

Deloitte said ‘the workforce is changing. Many studies have shown that a healthy workplace can increase productivity, employee engagement, and retention. You can usually be confident that your leadership is partly responsible for this.

The IT industry has always skewed younger, and younger employees prioritize company culture, work-life balance, and diversity.’

Trust that when your employees have time to bond, they’ll be able to communicate more effectively when undergoing group-based projects. This is especially important in an MSP business.

 If your staff and managers have good relationships and open communication.

Did you know..

Journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine study found that employers who didn’t like their manager were 60% more likely to have a heart attack?

Another study by Interact found that 69% of managers are uncomfortable communicating with employees.

It’s important that your employees feel they can report to your line manager without any worries or concerns.

New employees may feel they need a mentor to help them learn the ropes.

In an MSP company, most employees will spend the first few months learning from their co-workers.

Thus, their future relationship success is proportional to the degree to which they initially worked well together.

The manager’s confidence in their own abilities is bolstered and their sense of purpose in the workplace is enhanced as a result.

In addition, it will make them feel more connected to their co-workers.

If your employees have a strong bond with their line manager, this is a sign they are taken seriously and valued at work.

Usually, this means you’ve made a good decision with the managers you’ve selected or that you inspire patience and support in your workplace.

There are more indicators, but these are some of the main ones. If you recognised most of these in your workplace, you’re doing well. However, if you feel like this isn’t your workplace, this could be a sign to work on making changes.

Conclusion

A good workplace environment makes good employees.

Your employees should know if they’re doing a good or a bad job. As employers, we contribute a lot more our employee’s behavior and work style than we think.

Our biggest takeaway is to intentionally build relationships with your direct reports by having One-to-Ones.

We must do everything we can to help their development.

Looking for the next step in your MSP Business?

Scalable MSPs are experienced leaders in the MSP market and advocates of lifelong learning, peer support, and accountability.

They offer multiple services such as establishing, maturing, and exiting an MSP business.

Scalable MSP will work with MSP Business Owners, as a coach, sounding board, mentor, agony aunt, and business partner.

They will collaborate with you to gain an understanding of your clients, create and implement a strategic plan for the growth of your business, and assist you in addressing any obstacles you may face.

Remember, being rewarded for hard work and appreciated are some of the highest forms of motivation.

You can never tell if the routines your employees follow each day are providing them with motivation or not, but the simple act of recognising and appreciating their efforts will go a long way.

One of the best quotes I’ve ever heard is from the ‘How to Succeed Podcast,’ and says:

“Saying thank you and acknowledgement is the best return on investment that you can give as a manager as it’s free and the rewards are tenfold.”

When people hear that their contributions are valuable, they’ll work harder, put in more effort, and be more productive.

You’ll soon discover that you have happier, more loyal employees and a stronger business.

So, what are you waiting for? Try it and let us know how it goes.