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Want to pay your IT staff less? Stop wasting their time.

June 25, 2014
By Lisa Dare

In a highly competitive talent marketplace, you shouldn't skimp on pay and benefits for your IT workers. But with the high cost of IT labor, you’ll still want to find ways to save money. Short of reducing salaries or burning out your staff with long hours, how do you accomplish this? It’s simple: Find ways to minimize your IT staff’s unproductive time. By removing unnecessary tasks, you’ll maximize productive time and require fewer staff.

But removing the low-value tasks that hold worker productivity back is not always that easy. Here are some tasks that steal time:

  • Onboarding. This can be a time drain for new IT employees and their managers. Getting new folks trained and oriented, with appropriate access to all necessary systems and equipment, can easily take a week.
  • Meetings. The scourge of productivity across business, meetings can easily eat up 25 percent of your employees’ valuable time.
  • Self-service. If your company tries replacing all of your HR or other support staff with self-service forms and information, you may find that you eat up those savings by reducing your staff’s productivity.

So how do you cut down on these staff productivity obstacles? You can start with a well-defined onboarding process. While documenting all the steps in onboarding will take a significant investment of time, it will pay off in future productivity. An onboarding checklist will help walk your new hires through the basic things they’ll need to know, and it will aid in getting their systems access and equipment squared away before they’re on your payroll. In an ideal scenario, new employees and contractors will be able to start working productively on day one, and managers will get back a chunk of time that would have been spent walking them through the basics.

Developing a thoughtful policy about meetings―when they’re truly needed, who should attend and how long and frequently they occur―will cut down on a lot of wasted time (and a known morale-killer). The Project Management Institute offers excellent guidance on this subject. And consider borrowing from Agile development’s idea of stand-up meetings, which are time-limited to 15 minutes, and keep everyone standing instead of sitting. These quick meetings keep everyone informed and on point without taking too much time—one study showed stand-up gatherings reduce meeting time by 34 percent. As a bonus, they help counteract some of the hazards of excessive sitting at work.

Finally, consider making sure your employees are well-supported in their work and company knowledge. If you don’t want your $100 K Java developer spending half a day trying to change his address through an obscure SharePoint portal, it helps to have knowledgeable support staff who can quickly resolve issues.

Need help with some of these tasks? TEKsystems Managed IT Services can help provide the resources your project needs and the strong management that will help reduce labor costs. 

Lisa Dare is a marketing writer for TEKsystems who enjoys learning about IT from some of the smartest folks in tech. A former HR staffer, Lisa frequently blogs about work-life balance and career advice.

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