MSP Recruitment and Retention FAQs

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Jun 12, 2018

Image Above: Doug Grimm (Middle), Vice President and General Manager at Collabrance, shares best practices on panel to MSPs at Minneapolis ConnectWise User Group.

ConnectWise User Group Panel Discusses Recruitment and Retention Best Practices

I recently participated in a ConnectWise User Group Panel in Minneapolis that focused on recruiting and retention for MSPs. The session was well attended for a topic that many MSPs are struggling with today.

Below is a combination of questions we were asked on the panel, as well as FAQs that surfaced with side conversations and my responses to help share our recruitment and retention best practices with others.

1. How does your company culture play into interviewing and hiring? How do you mold your interview questions in order to get the answers you need?

Company culture is huge when it comes to interviewing and hiring! We use a behavioral interview style at Collabrance and GreatAmerica (our parent company) which is designed to get to the core of how a candidate interacts with others, makes judgement calls and helps us evaluates their work ethic.

We also embed questions into our process that assess a candidate’s alignment with our company values. In addition to the interview process, we ensure candidates are exposed to a variety of team members to get a better understanding and multiple perspectives (first-hand) of the company culture and fit.

As part of the final process, we include a structured interview that is required of all applicants to ultimately determine if a candidate is a good culture fit. Preserving our company culture starts with hiring the right fit – We can teach the tech, we can’t teach the culture/passion/empathy… the culture alignment needs to be in a candidate!

2. What online recruiting sources do you use, if any, and are they helpful in bringing in the right applicants?

We have some standard online sources and social media awareness that we use across both GreatAmerica and Collabrance which include:, Glassdoor, LinkedIn (Jobs and Recruiter Seat), Corridor Careers (which is a local job board) and university/college job boards from the colleges in which we recruit.

Our college relations strategy along with Indeed and LinkedIn are top referral and hiring sources for us, however we get the most hiring success from employee referrals! I recommend building a relationship with your local community college, host events at your building and talk up benefits like flexible scheduling, your internal networking group, and other benefits to build your recruiting efforts.

3. How do you retain your top talent without breaking the bank?

We work hard to make our organization a great place to work.I would categorize that into 3 areas:

  • Develop Career Paths
    • Set competencies for each position and leveling process to ensure the employee has the ability to request a review of their competencies
    • Provide ongoing trainings (i.e. Hold 1-2 monthly trainings by their peers or external experts / suppliers. Have SMEs train other techs, this also refreshes the SMEs skills).
    • Offer one to multiple career paths for SMEs (at lesat one SME for each element of the standardized tech stack)
    • Arrange structured mentoring
  • Find Recognition Opportunities
    • Goals
      • Create visibility so everyone knows what’s important, what we are shooting for and make it a team effort.
    • Celebrate achieve of goals (i.e. Beverage chart, team lunches, awards)
    • Fun recognition programs and gamification. For example: Auction bucks, Legos, WOW Awards, Outstanding Achiever Awards for areas like:
      • Outstanding customer feedback
      • Effort above and beyond
      • Most tickets closed
      • Most calls taken
      • Best utilization
      • Achieve survey benchmarks
      • Least "make busy time" on phone
  • Keep Culture Top of Mind
    • Highlight our core principles, mission and vision.
    • Provide transparency in quarterly business reviews.
    • Incorporate benefits like flexible work that employees need (i.e. ability to work remotely from home, flex hours, etc.)
    • Give team shirts to employees.
    • Plan regular team outings.

We foster a culture that brings together like minded folks who naturally gravitate to spending time together outside of work in activities that are not company sponsored… Hobbies like bowling, gaming, golfing, etc. …They even vacation together! Creating a sense of family helps keep them rooted.

4. Identify KPI’s that indicate recruiting success in your business.

Our HR team keeps a talent scorecard measuring a lot of different areas.We capture top referral sources and hiring sources each year in additional to metrics related to time-to-fill, our source to close timeframe, offer acceptance rates and various measures of success throughout our interview process.

Ultimately, the recruiting funnel stages are compared to benchmarks which includes how many visitors to our career website fuel applications, how many applications do we receive per opening, how many interviews are scheduled of the applicants received, how many offers are extended to those we interview, how many offers are accepted and our overall hires/# of applications percentage.

5. How do you attract millennials in the workforce?

We don’t necessarily do anything to specifically target a certain generation. I think we are mindful in our recruiting efforts and employment branding to do what we can to attract a variety of talent at all levels. Once we have an opportunity to interact with candidates, we want to find out what is important to them in their career and inform them on what we have to offer. I would say we do a lot to promote growth and professional development which is appealing to millennials and other workforce generations as well.

At GreatAmerica and Collabrance, we hired 63 external applicants last year and had 101 internal promotions/transfers take place! This really highlights the growth opportunities we have at both GreatAmerica and Collabrance.

The success of your business relies on the team of people you recruit, hire and retain. This reminds me of a famous quote from Peter Baeklund where the CFO asks the CEO: “What happens if we invest in developing our people and they leave?" CEO: “What happens if we don’t, and they stay?“ Give us something to think about!

If you need assistance with improving your hiring process or evaluating your company culture, contact PathShare® HR Services (a GreatAmerica Company) who can help you implement best practices similar to GreatAmerica and Collabrance.

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Category: Personnel

About The Author

Doug Grimm

Doug Grimm, Vice President and General Manager, is responsible for the overall vision, including sales, marketing, operations, strategic leadership and financial performance. Prior to joining Collabrance in 2012 as the Senior Analyst, Doug started at GreatAmerica in 2002. Before working at GreatAmerica, he served in various finance and accounting roles for a publicly traded company in the telecommunications industry. Doug began his professional career with Arthur Andersen LLP. In his tenure with GreatAmerica, he has held various positions within the finance department, and also served as the Director of Sales in the Office Equipment Group. Doug earned his B.A. in Accounting from Luther College and was a Certified Public Accountant.