The success of any managed service provider (MSP) is dependent on the people who work for it. When MSP employees are dissatisfied, unhappy, or unengaged they will be less motivated, efficient, and productive. Employees make or break a company, so it’s vitally important to keep them satisfied with their work.
How To Empower Your Employees
It’s a known maxim that companies benefit tremendously from happy workers. This is an easy idea to wrap one’s mind around since it intuitively makes sense. If an employee is happy and engaged with their employer, they work harder. If they are unhappy, they tend to be less productive.
A famous study from the University of Warwick found that “happy employees were 12% more productive, while dissatisfied workers proved 10% less productive”. This is a 22% swing in productivity from employee happiness alone! It is critically important for MSPs to focus on their employee happiness levels if they want to achieve long-term business growth.
So, what can you do to empower MSP employees? How can you keep them happy and engaged?
One of the most de-motivating things for employees can be the inability to complete work effectively due to a third-party dependency. When an employee’s work is frequently blocked by the work of a different team, an inefficient process, a lack of documentation, technical debts, or any number of other potential bottlenecks, it can be extremely difficult for the employee to be productive. They can begin to feel like they aren’t accomplishing anything in their day-to-day work, which can drive down efficacy and motivation. These types of blockers should be found and remedied as quickly as possible.
Allow For Autonomy
Recent research has shown that employee autonomy is essential for an employee’s:
Whether it be autonomy over the details of how to perform or do their actual work, autonomy over their personal work-life balance, or autonomy over their ability to choose what they actually work on, giving more autonomy to employees is an easy way to empower them and enhance company efficiency.
Here are some interesting research points related to autonomy:
- The results of a study performed by the University of Birmingham in 2017 showed that “employees with a higher level of autonomy in their work reported positive effects on their overall well-being and higher levels of job satisfaction.”
- A similar study from Cornell found that “employees with more freedom over their work are more likely to come up with innovative solutions that can make the company more competitive.”
It’s clear that giving employees the ability to have a say in different aspects of their work creates network effects that can lead to increases in company efficiency and can lead to long-term growth.
Increase Mentor-Mentee Work
At some MSPs, peer work is reserved for new employees who are trying to learn the ropes. A new employee is onboarded through a standard process, and they learn from their more experienced coworkers for the first month or two before being able to effectively complete tasks on their own.
Despite this common trend, it has been empirically shown that strong personal relationships between coworkers lead to significantly higher job satisfaction. An easy way to help coworkers create meaningful relationships at work is through a mentor-mentee program.
When there is a mentor-mentee relationship in place, the more senior employee can teach another team member how to effectively solve more difficult issues, how to improve their code or work, how to manage their time more effectively, or any number of general tips they have learned over time on the job.
By creating this relationship, both employees will feel more engaged in their work and in the company itself. This type of peer work can also engender a sense of empowerment in the mentor as they begin to feel responsible for the success of their mentee. The mentee gets the benefit of creating a meaningful relationship inside the company while simultaneously becoming more effective in their job.
Give Employees Ownership
Another great way to improve employee engagement is to give them more ownership of their work. By allowing employees to have full ownership of what they are working on from start to finish, employees can become more engaged and excited with the work itself. There’s an innate sense of pride that comes with creating a product, feature, tool, etc. from scratch, and being the owner of a major project can be particularly empowering for an employee.
Gamify the workplace
Overwhelmingly, IT professionals love games. Gamifying the workplace is the perfect opportunity to create stronger connections in the workplace, as well as improve problem-solving times and focus on innovation.
Every company is different and effective gameplay can vary from team to team, so keeping things fluid is helpful when thinking about gamification. Games can vary from something as simple as recognition-based work apps, to hackathons and everything in between. Studies show that gamifying the workplace in a way that shows off employee achievements improves productivity, engagement, and loyalty.
Reduce Employee Burnout
MSPs are designed to automate, optimize, and standardize processes that other companies do not want to be responsible for on their own. By the nature of this business model, individual MSPs tend to solve the same problem many different times for multiple clients. This leads to one of the largest issues with MSP employee’s motivation: burnout.
Worker fatigue is an inevitable effect stemming from repetitive work. When an employee’s work begins to feel like the same thing over and over again, it’s only natural for their motivation to decrease. Low motivation leads to lower productivity, and ultimately lower company efficiency.
Here are some ideas to reduce monotony for technical workers:
- Mix in complex tasks with simple tasks. Having variability in the difficulty of work can help to prevent employees from feeling fatigued.
- Allow MSP employees to work on projects for different clients to create variability in their day-to-day work.
- Ensure that the least interesting tasks are not always going to the same employees.
Provide time for certifications
MSP practitioners are often very certification-oriented in their goals for growth as employees. Considering many MSP jobs require certifications to prove IT skills, helping employees continue their journeys to gain new certifications is crucial to empowerment. Providing reserved time for a new certification course, or even fund allotments to help practitioners pay for certification courses can help empower employees in a variety of ways. Allowing time to focus on education lets MSP employees learn new skills, refine skills, and level up into new roles in their careers.
Interested in what the top certifications for IT Professionals are?
- Best IT professional certifications for careers
- Best Agile certifications
- A guide to Kubernetes certifications
- A guide to AWS certifications
Create 80-20 Programs
Larger tech companies (such as Google, Facebook, Microsoft, etc.) have some version of an 80-20 program for their employees. These programs vary from company to company, but the main idea is that employees do their day jobs from Monday to Thursday (80%), but on Friday (20%) they are free to work on any project within the company that appeals to them. This allows employees to sample work in different areas of the company and learn new skills while still being productive. It also creates the potential for internal lateral moves over time, if the employee wants to eventually switch roles.
Introducing these programs and providing employees with this degree of autonomy over their work has shown huge increases in productivity at the companies that have implemented them. It’s also a great way to reduce employee fatigue as they are able to work on problems that interest and excite them on a weekly basis and have the ability to move positions after some time.
Happiness Is Key
It is well known that there is a correlating relationship between employee happiness and employee productivity. When it comes to an individual’s work, empowered employees are both happier and more motivated to see the success of their respective companies. More often than not, this empowerment directly leads to higher productivity and efficiency within the company itself.
MSP companies should do everything in their power to keep employees feeling empowered. To do this, MSPs can try to provide ways for employees to feel ownership over their work, mix up individual work to avoid burnout, reduce bottlenecks, and facilitate mentor-mentee relationships.
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Last updated September 2022.