IT staff are often the ones that get away, but the Ministry of Fisheries says it has found a way to keep its catch.
The ministry has developed a strategy it says keeps its IT workers "up to speed" and challenged in their work. This also means much less time and money is spent trawling around for replacements.
All but one of the 15 staff have been with the ministry for four to five years and some since before 1993. In an industry where a third leave every year, operations manager John Hanson says only one has left in the past three.
With such a low staff turnover, he says he was often asked if his department was missing out on fresh skills and fresh approaches. Instead, he says, he concentrated on building this into his existing staff.
The operations group looks after the ministry's LANs and other systems. It has six systems administrators, three looking after IBM and Unix boxes, three database administrators and three network specialists.
Hanson says 18 months ago, his department questioned staff in Nelson, Auckland and Dunedin on why they stayed and other issues.
"It came down to interesting work, group training when they need it and [bringing] people into the decision-making process," says Hanson.
"Money was down the list. We don't pay people at the top of the scale. Money isn't everything but if they weren't getting enough, they would be complaining. These people also get interesting work, not just desktops," he says.
Hanson also credits success in custom-design training sessions with Auldhouse Computer Training, which he says are better than public courses.
"We can openly discuss our network, and work through sensitive issues we could not talk about in a public forum. By the end of the session, the team has often worked together with a trainer to find a solution to a specific problem," he says.