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Top 10 Reasons DBAs Quit

Sloane Stricker | | September 28, 2011

The role of the DBA is an anomaly in the IT environment. DBAs are often extremely critical yet hidden from view; highly paid yet individual contributors; and very knowledgeable yet rarely consulted. So why does an extremely critical, highly paid, and very knowledgeable resource have a high risk profile for quitting? What factors can an IT manager consider when trying to increase retention rates of DBAs?

The following are the top 10 reasons DBAs quit, and leave their companies at risk:

  1. Burnout – constant overtime, holiday disruptions, and frequent weekend work
  2. On-Call – being on-call too often (or all the time) with frequent incidents
  3. More Pay – the best DBAs are highly valuable, and are always in high demand
  4. Recognition – real or perceived inadequate praise, recognition, or acknowledgement
  5. Constant Firefighting – always reacting to issues with inability to put in proactive measures
  6. Insufficient Involvement – often ignored during design, architecture, or project planning
  7. Job Satisfaction – working on routine tasks with no exposure to advanced features & technologies
  8. No Training – little to no training, conferences, books, or collaboration to improve themselves
  9. Management – manager not understanding DBA workloads, stress, needs, and value
  10. Changing Roles – DBAs leverage their in-depth data knowledge to get a “better” role in IT

No manager can make all employees happy, and that should not be the goal. Rather, the goal should be to cost-effectively minimize unwanted DBA turnover to protect the company from unnecessary risk to data stability and customer impact. Since these 10 factors can vary in intensity from company to company, and vary in importance from individual to individual, the following are the practical “no cost” steps a DBA manager should take:

  • Understand the leading causes of DBA turnover – the 10 listed above.
  • Diagnose your DBA team to determine if any are manifested in your environment.
  • Acknowledge issues – let the team know you are listening and understand their issues.

There, that’s half the battle. Your team will now know that you “get it” even if you aren’t able to immediately address their pain points. You will also now know which pain points have the highest leverage among your team so you can assess the most cost-effective ways to minimize unwanted DBA turnover

For more information please contact myself, Datavail or request of copy of the whitepaper: Innovative Solutions for Database and DBA Management.

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