A universal conversation is taking place in businesses across all industries about how to combat an unprecedented talent shortage. The COVID-19 pandemic initiated record-breaking numbers of individuals quitting their jobs, which is being referred to as The Great Resignation or, less commonly, The Great Reevaluation. This mass departure, paired with the anticipated influx in retirement numbers, is continuing to shrink today’s already strained talent pool, putting increased pressure on data centers and leaving enterprises of all sizes scrambling to recruit, upskill, and retain the best employees.  

According to an Uptime Institute report, keeping the world's data centers operational will require the industry to add at least 300,000 skilled workers by 2025 — the equivalent of half the population of Portland, Oregon. Employees are reevaluating what is most important to them when it comes to work, life, and the balance of both. A surplus of open positions waiting to be filled leaves job seekers with ample opportunity to renegotiate with their current employers or make the decision to make a career change. 

To retain top talent in a jobseeker’s market, employers need to collect employee and candidate feedback to adjust based on the ever-changing needs and wants of today’s workers. Here are five ways companies can begin to evolve with today’s talent and combat data center talent shortage:

1. Capturing the next generation via education

Exacerbated by an aging workforce, there is no question that young talent is needed to sustain the future of data centers. But the first step is getting this generation to see a career in data centers as a viable and fulfilling option. The data center offers a full complement of opportunities from IT to operational technology and trade careers. That starts with training and inspiring at a young age — whether via trade schools, internships, or STEM programs as well as specific job fairs.  

2. Focusing on transferable skills

The pace of change in the industry is relentless. New technologies, such as data center automation, mean there is an ongoing need for skills that can transfer into this new way of working. Adjusting qualifications to job listings could be the first move toward driving a more abundant talent pool for data center operators. This includes adjusting data center job requirements to allow for alternatives to a college degree or certification from a technical trade school.  

3. Promoting diversity and inclusion in the industry

Currently, women represent approximately 5% of data center staff. By actively recruiting under-represented populations, companies can diversify what has traditionally been an extremely homogeneous workforce. Not only does this result in increased innovation and creativity but also helps address today’s most pressing societal challenges. 

4. Utilizing software and services to redeploy talent

Taking advantage of DCIM software for monitoring, management, and maintenance helps staff become more efficient while optimizing the environment.  This type of software aids the training and education of data center systems, operations, and interoperability amongst systems. Digitizing the workday experience and leveraging technology is key to attracting top young talent.   

5. Leaning on technology partners

Rely on managed services providers to bridge the gap in in-house capabilities. Bringing in partners may offer services that essentially make then an extension of an organization. With common goals and values, the two can work together to bring the highest value to current customers while ensuring no one has to say no to new business.  

The employee experience

Data center technology is the powerhouse supporting the global economy, and employers in the industry can’t afford to lose talent. It’s time for employers to craft a thoughtful, employee-centric strategy for recruitment and retention to keep data centers secure, efficient, scalable, and staffed. That means offering enhanced learning and development opportunities, venturing outside the typical job description for hires, promoting diversity and inclusion in the industry, and leveraging the latest and greatest technology to elevate the employee experience at all stages of the employee life cycle.

When The Great Resignation is considered from a bird’s-eye view, the overarching theme is evolution. Employees and jobseekers want to be at a great place to work, and that means employers must pivot to satisfy the needs and wants of the workforce, both today and tomorrow. What workers expect from companies right now will differ in years to come, and the only way to recruit and retain top talent sustainably is to understand these shifts and adjust accordingly.