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How to Handle Engineering Staffing Problems Without Hiring

June 17th, 2021 | 4 min. read

How to Handle Engineering Staffing Problems Without Hiring
Chris Wacker

Chris Wacker

Chris Wacker, Central Region Account Manager for CCI Systems, has more than 20 years of telecom engineering experience with a primary focus on helping emerging and rural service providers. He is the founder of ESPi USA Uninterrupted Power Supply (UPS) Company.

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How thin can your engineers be spread before all the projects you have going with your expanding network prove to just be too much? How long will it be before inevitable burnout claims another one of your most valuable team members? What are your options if your lead engineer puts in their two-week’s notice to pursue a different opportunity or is ready to retire?

All these questions are being asked more and more frequently by operators as their networks grow but the size of their teams remain the same. The expertise they need from an engineering perspective either isn’t easily accessible (a common problem with rural operators) or is too expensive and too time consuming (from a training perspective) to justify hiring.

There has never been an obvious alternative that service providers could pursue to remedy their staffing problem while still acquiring the level of expertise they need. With the help of Staff Assist, that is no longer the case.

To see how Staff Assist might help to solve three of the pressing questions that were mentioned earlier, let’s first learn exactly what Staff Assist is.

What Is Staff Assist?

Staff Assist, simply put, is a program where a customer can leverage the expertise of an outside firm’s engineers to help support the projects they have in process. This engagement could be done on a variety of timelines ranging from a project basis to three month increments of three, six, and 12-month commitments.

Along with the flexibility of scheduling, there is also flexibility regarding how “hands on” the engineer would be in your system. There are options to have the engineer check in once in awhile all the way up to an engineer working “for you” and becoming a part of your in-house team while still remaining an asset of the outside firm.

This program is made to relieve you, the operator, of the stress that is associated with staffing while still providing the expertise needed for them to complete their most important projects at a high level.

Now that we understand what staff assist is, let’s see how it can be used to solve the three most pressing issues we see that were mentioned earlier.

I Have Too Many Projects for My Current Staff to Handle on Their Own

If this sounds like you, you’re not alone. This is one of the most common needs for additional staff and is a good sign that your network is likely expanding! Although this might be a good sign, placing all the projects that you need to complete on your limited staff will not allow them to place the focus necessary on any one project.

In other words, they might be able to address a wide variety of projects but can’t pursue any of them to the depth that is needed to get the most out of the solution.

Rather than hiring on a new network engineer, if you can find one, staff assist can have a highly skilled engineer assisting you in managing your relatively quickly should the workload and skillset needed be available.

What are the benefits of this for the operator?

  1. Immediate assistance from a deeply knowledgeable resource
  2. A cost savings when compared to hiring a new engineer
  3. Customizable time frames that you can utilize rather than the commitment you make to a new employee

My Engineers Are Experiencing Burnout

Your engineers are some of the most valued members of your team. While they often save the day and keep the network up and running, there comes a point when the workload just becomes too much to bear.

There are a couple of routes that operators could take to try and address this burnout. The first would be hiring more engineers. While this might seem like the obvious solution on a surface level, there is a lot of expense and added workload that should be considered when hiring on new engineers.

Expenses would include everything from salary to benefits along with the time your other engineers would have to spend away from projects to train them to understand your network.

For a short time, this training actually increases the workload of your current engineers rather than achieving the decrease you were looking for.

The second option to relieve burnout would be pursuing a Staff Assist solution. In Staff Assist, the operator would definitely avoid the expense of paying for the engineer’s benefits as they are actually an asset from an outside firm.

Additionally, the engineer would come with a deep base level understanding of how your type of network operates and what needs to be done to help you accomplish your projects in the most efficient way possible.

A third option could be a combination of them both. With Staff Assist’s flexibility regarding time frames, an operator could leverage a Staff Assist solution for three, six, or 12 months and in that time be looking for a full-time engineer to add to their team.

This allows for immediate assistance in the short term and reliable support from your expanded engineering staff in the long term.

A Lead Engineer Puts in Their Two-Weeks' Notice


Employee turnover is one of the “white elephants” in the room that rarely gets brought up but is always there. While it’s never easy to lose an employee in any department of your network, losing one of your lead engineers is enough to send most into a panicked frenzy wondering what they will do.

Rather than going for weeks or months operating with a smaller staff as you go on the hunt for a replacement, Staff Assist can relieve that stress on both you and your team while you complete the search for your next lead engineer.

Leveraging industry-leading expertise in the interim allows you to continue with your day-to-day tasks as well as your forward-facing projects without missing a beat.

The Next Steps Toward Staff Assist

Now that you have an idea of what Staff Assist is and the most common reasons operators leverage it, it’s time to get started.

If you’re experiencing any of the problems mentioned above, or if your company has encountered a unique situation Staff Assist, learn more about the solution and how you can get started.

If staff assist sounds like the right solution for your network, get started immediately by touching base with an expert from CCI's team.