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Acer America Corp. is a computer manufacturer of business and consumer PCs, notebooks, ultrabooks, projectors, servers, and storage products.


333 West San Carlos Street
San Jose, California 95110
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April 30, 2024 |

Will the Shortage of Technologists Lead to MSP Burnout?

Experts recommend ways to ensure staff — and leaders — are taking time for themselves.

Chris Ploessel is a firm believer in taking time for yourself. In fact, the president of RedNight Consulting implemented a new approach to combatting MSP burnout: giving employees the “assignment” of spending a day by themselves. In addition to quarterly team events, a solo, self-care, paid day off is the challenge, as Ploessel calls it.

Chris Ploessel of RedNight Consulting discusses if the Shortage of Technologists Lead to MSP Burnout

Chris Ploessel

“Maybe go to the beach and bring back some sand, or go to the mountains and bring back pinecones. I recently went skiing by myself, and it was so nice to have some time alone. I felt re-energized by having just one day off.”

Ploessel’s strategy is an important one for businesses in almost any industry — and particularly in IT.

Owning an MSP comes with its own set of stressors, including long hours and sometimes demanding clients. Adding to the fray now is a shortage of IT professionals, making it critical to retain existing staff.

MSP Burnout Triggers

Savvy MSP owners are seeing this trend and are working to recognize the signs of burnout among their staff before work becomes a struggle.

The issue lies in not cultivating a positive work environment, said Shidarion Clark, CIO of Lannan Technologies. “Too often, as MSPs, we get caught up in metrics and KPIs, and at the end of the day, these are people with lives outside of work.”

The tech talent shortage is stressful, he acknowledged. “MSPs are all competing with each other because we want to get the best talent, leadership, and ideas and all that comes with hiring.”

This means that a handshake agreement isn’t enough when you hire someone, Clark said. In fact, a few times at Lannan Technologies, the company was confident in its competitive salary offerings, but if another firm doubled that, leaving Lannan out of the running, he explained.

“Fortunately, we’ve been able to retain that talent even though we don’t offer the highest of the highest [compensation packages].” Instead, Lannan Technologies promises work/life balance, he said. That’s often the tradeoff for not offering the highest salary.

Value Your People

One of the greatest things an MSP can do for employees is invest in them, Clark said. Burnout is the result of pushing team members too hard or giving them work they’re not comfortable doing. So, employees try to overcompensate, leading to mental exhaustion.

Shidarion Clark of Lannan Technologies

Shidarion Clark

Rather, Lannan Technology tries to upskill employees and invest in them by providing training, Clark said. The company also has an open-door policy to encourage employees to talk with leaders, he said.

“We encourage a supportive working environment. In most companies, you don’t even meet the C-suite members, depending on where you are on the organization chart.”

The firm also plans to give out more awards this year so employees can be recognized by their peers. Clark said that is almost as important as giving a raise.

Roughly 80% of Lannan’s staff is military veterans, and “A lot of us coming from that side understand selfless service; they’re not doing [the work] for the recognition but because it’s the right thing to do.”

Still, leadership should show appreciation to team members regardless of whether it’s unexpected or not.

Recognizing the Signs

Flagging when an employee is burned out is not as easy to measure as billable time. “It’s more a feeling than a KPI you can put on a dashboard, from knowing someone well and seeing their performance or attitude change,’’ Ploessel said.

He likened MSPs to “emergency medics,” saying something is on fire and a client needs help now.

“With our industry, you’re on to the next project and then the next. You get pulled in at these weird times where you can’t take time off. We see that as an industry problem,’’ he said. So, it’s up to MSP owners to be creative in how they solve that.

Recently, RedNight lost one of its two engineers, so the other engineer is “doing double duty and killing it,’’ Ploessel said. However, instead of waiting for the engineer to call in sick in three or four months, Ploessel told him to take some time off and the company would schedule work around his absence.

“It becomes the responsibility of the leadership … to keep an eye on those folks because sometimes, individuals are so close to the work.”

It’s just as important for leaders or the head of an MSP to take time for themselves, Ploessel added. “Early on, I felt like this place wouldn’t run without me and I had to keep the pressure on. I think that’s less true than people think.”

Leadership should be ok with turning on an out-of-office note to take a walk and look at some trees for 24 hours. “The building or business isn’t going burn down, and your productivity will go up. I wasn’t a believer until I saw it myself.”

Image: iStock

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