You may have noticed that IT Helpdesk teams members are usually relatively inexperienced and young people compared to the average in the whole IT sector. Why is it? Don’t Helpdesk teams need highly skilled employees? Is the work in the Helpdesk service so hard that most of the employees leave it after few years? Is it even worth it to search for a job in a Helpdesk team?

In the articles The Real Value Of The Helpdesk For Organization And IT and The Most Valuable Skills In The Helpdesk Job you can read how many skills Helpdesk specialists should have to provide high-quality service and how important it is for the IT department to have these skills provided by the employees. It seems that helpdesk teams need great employees more than anything else. Why there are so few senior Helpdesk specialists than? Where do all of the juniors go when they have their experience gathered?

First of all, the Helpdesk team is rarely considered as it should be – as the IT Department ambassador. Way more often users and management see it as nothing more than “the computers fixers”. They also rarely value the high social skills, resourcefulness, and business awareness of the helpdesk team. Generally, the Helpdesk team has a rather low status. Even the best helpdesk employees are just the helpdesk employees even if they are highly skilled in many areas. It isn’t very motivating for the Helpdesk employees. People tend not to like to be considered as low-skilled and entry-level employees for their whole life. It kind of spins a downward spiral – the more skilled employees leave Helpdesk teams, the lower the status of the Helpdesk is, and the lower the status is, the more skilled employees leave the Helpdesk team. The low status of the helpdesk employees is both the reason and the effect of what’s going on. There must be something more in it – some more reasons why Helpdesk has so low status…

Let’s try to find it out… If you’re a Helpdesk specialist, what do you face every day of your work? You have a lot of interactions with users physically or remotely. And the reason why you have these interactions is mostly because something doesn’t work properly in their computers. It’s hard to expect them to be very happy and nice in these situations. Often the computer issue interrupts them while working on their duties, sometimes quite urgent duties. Sometimes users even blame the helpdesk team for all of their troubles with computers. When the issue is fixed on the other hand, not many people appreciate the Helpdesk work. Everything runs as “normal” again? This is how it should be all the time, so why should anyone recognize any effort to make something just work as normal? Working without much appreciation and with frustrated people on a day-to-day basis doesn’t improve motivation or satisfaction. It’s much easier to be recognized as a member of a project team that implements some great new service or new feature. Delivering project results is something more noticeable and potentially much more appreciated than bringing broken things back to normal.

Another thing why helpdesk employees leave their teams is quite obvious. There’s not much money to be earned in the Helpdesk teams. Why? Generally, IT costs a lot of cash and most organizations don’t like expenses. If the company board can save some costs at least on the salary of the Helpdesk team, they are more than happy to do it. They see the Helpdesk team is just a bunch of low-status computer-fixing teenagers after all… Again, not many people like to be low-status and low-paid, especially if they have to deal with unsatisfied and ungrateful users every day… And when they don’t like their work conditions they leave to find another job or…

…to find their place in another team. Other teams in IT Departments don’t make it any easier to keep the Helpdesk guys in their team for a long period of time too. The Helpdesk team is very often treated by other IT units as a forge of talents. Especially network support teams and systems support teams gladly hire ex-helpdesk staff. It’s hard to blame the other teams for recruiting their personnel out of the Helpdesk team. People there usually know their organization quite well, so there is very little onboarding effort needed in the transfer process. It is also better to keep talented employees inside the company than let them leave to some other organization. For these people, it seems better too, as moving to another team inside the same organization usually causes much less stress than changing a company.

Helpdesk employees are going away not only to the more specialized technical positions. As described in the article The Most Valuable Skills In The Helpdesk Job, helpdesk specialists need a lot of social skills to thrive in their positions. Hard-working and keen to learn Helpdesk specialists are in a great environment to quickly develop skills letting them move forward not only to more specialized technical teams but also to managerial positions. High social skills with quite good knowledge of IT technology make them perfect candidates for the helpdesk team leaders or junior IT managers.

Keeping employees in the Helpdesk team for a long time is often inefficient and not in the interest of anyone – nor the business nor the IT department nor the person himself or herself. IT employees of any kind are in great and growing demand anywhere in the world now. As there are still not enough skilled people for the IT jobs available on the market, it looks like there is no way to turn the trend of draining the Helpdesk teams of skilled employees around. These conditions may be difficult for Helpdesk managers trying to build and keep highly competent team, but they are beneficial for IT specialists launching and developing their careers. It seems that the Helpdesk is still a perfect starting position – a great first job opportunity to jump into an elevator which can take you quickly to interesting and well-paid positions.

Zdjęcie autorstwa Polina Zimmerman z Pexels

Categories: IT Management

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[…] comes another challenge to provide the status information properly. As described in the article Are Helpdesk Teams Doomed to Lose Their Best Employees? , Helpdesk staff are usually not very experienced and business-aware employees. They are often not […]