The 3-Step Plan: Ensuring Your Data Center Talent Is Ready

As remote data processing and storage drive more and more aspects of everyday life, the demand for new or expanded data centers continues its explosive growth. Facing this demand, IT leaders must find a way to build these massive operations quickly. Even in the midst of a global shortage of skilled workers, they need to attract and retain the right technical staff to get the job done right and on time.

One new data center build can require as many as 300 IT technicians working on-site at any given time. After the build is complete, more than 100 of those skilled workers may remain to manage and maintain the installed systems and infrastructure.

Business leaders extending their IT footprint across a network of global data centers thus must cultivate talent for the long haul. They should create a workforce that empowers them to reallocate both resources and knowledge from one project to the next. Through its unparalleled experience in managing data center builds worldwide, Black Box has developed and refined this process into a science. Simply put, it’s a three-step plan for ensuring talent is ready when and where you need it.

STEP 1: Recruiting the Right Talent

While recruiting talent for a new data center build, you generally reach out to area technical schools, unemployment centers, veterans’ groups, and similar regional entities, aiming to recruit and train 80% of the workforce from the region. Ideally, the other 20% comes from recent hyper-scale builds. Syncing skills training and job opportunities with long-term career prospects, this approach helps the data centers become part of the community.

The massive scale of hiring and the short time frame for a data center build call for automated applicant screening that ensures 200 open positions will yield more than 1,000 resumes. This technology allows you to leverage AI-enabled HR tools to streamline resume submission and review and conduct panel interviews to accelerate the screening and interview process.

STEP 2: Onboarding Your New Hires

Use a structured approach to onboarding, starting with hiring your project manager about six months before the project start date. With that key hire in place, you can build your leadership team by onboarding your core team and progressively bringing on less specialized positions thereafter.

Managers must be clear with team members about their roles and responsibilities — where to be, when, and why — and they must have the equipment, materials, and tools needed to do the job. All of these elements contribute to job satisfaction leading to talent retention.

STEP 3: Retaining Data Center Talent

A data center build is a massive undertaking, and it’s essential to prioritize work-life balance for employees by giving them time to recharge and helping them —connect with home or loved ones. This is more needed for the employees who are working in isolated places. By structuring a well-documented plan and encouraging team members to use it, you can ensure that any precedented or unprecedented leaves will not hamper the overall project timeline.

Make your on-site environment health and safety team members a vital part of the data center team, empowering them to prioritize your employees’ physical safety, mental health, and wellness. Most data center builds draw team members from a variety of backgrounds, cultures, and geopolitical situations — often working far from home; the health and safety team can help bridge differences and create a cohesive and healthy team.

In addition to providing those resources, let your employees know what opportunities lie ahead for them - both in the industry and on future projects. When you lay out a career path for high-value team members, you increase the chances of retaining team members with specialized data center knowledge and can redeploy them in roles of increasing responsibility.

While you could rely on third-party training facilities, local trade schools, or even a train-the-trainer module, you’ll get the best results if your staffing partner invests in its regional training hubs. Through this, you get the advantage of instructors certified in industry standards, such as the crucial BICSI standard for communications and technology infrastructure. Proper and continuous training at this type of regional training hub leads to better & efficient resources; it also provides soft skills training for them to move on into management roles.

Training technicians for primary and secondary responsibilities ensures they can step in as needed. At the higher levels of the organization, identify global resources that can be allocated (or re-allocated) to the build within 72 hours. When you build redundancy into the project at every level, you are much more likely to achieve project objectives and meet your deadlines. With skill set redundancy, you eliminate that single point of failure that can keep a critical task from being completed.

Talent Ready When and Where You Need It

Follow these three steps in recruiting, onboarding, and retaining skilled IT technicians, and you’ll be on your way to having the right resources in the right places at the right time. Alternatively, you can turn to the data center experts at Black Box and stay confident in establishing a reliable and repeatable structure for staffing data center builds and expansions across every site.

Black Box includes every element within this three-step plan that also contains a quality assurance program and measurable KPIs to ensure that the data center team is performing up to expectations for quality of service. Sustaining an environment that fosters open communication is key to evaluating the team’s performance against those measures. Through this process, employees across the data center team engage more closely to meet the project goals and outcomes.

Learn more about how partnering with the Black Box team gives you a competitive advantage, enabling you to nurture a skilled workforce and create work environments that contribute to high worker satisfaction and retention, as well as the quality, performance, and timeline goals of each project.

This blog is part of a series on Data Center services and solutions. You may also be interested in:
The Data Center Technician Solution — In-House BICSI Certification 

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