How to Burn Out your DBA

DBA Burnout

Are you trying to get rid of your DBA – or DBA team? Want to make a reputation for your IT shop that will make recruitment borderline impossible? Simply want to make somebody’s life miserable? Then this article is for you!

Note: If you want a happy DBA that stays with you, do the opposite.

1. Put Your DBA on Call 24/7

Nobody wants solo responsibility for a system. People like to go to dinner, a movie, a vacation, sleep and should be allowed. Which causes them to work long hours sometimes 80 hour work weeks, it happens sometimes, but month over month this gets old and causes those last minute out the door moments that you don’t expect.

2. No Backup DBA

This is a corollary to #1. Of course, if you have no backup DBA, #1 is easy.

3. Lots of Weekend / Late Night Patching and Deployment

Many sites have this one down pat. They have a Friday night (or weekend) deployment every week, with all hands on deck. This is a great way to make people update their resumes. They work hard all week, then at the peak of exhaustion, they have to perform a task which requires high concentration and late hours, followed by another long week.

4. Additional Tasks With No Training

Good ideas are upgrades, new features, migrations, and implementing high-availability systems, as well as monitoring same.

5. Blame the DBA for Everything

Some shops even have rooms dedicated to this – often called a “War Room” – where the stated purpose is to diagnose issues, but the result is usually finger pointing.

6. Long Commutes

This is most prevalent in large cities (NYC, Atlanta, LA), where commutes in the 1-2 hour range are not unusual. We recently hired an NYC DBA who was commuting 2.25 hours every day, in EACH direction, from central NJ. Bonus: Add #3 to this (extended hours) for extra special burn-out.

Retaining your DBAs

For starters, do the opposite of all the above.

On top of that, consider a hiring a backup team of expert DBAs (like us).

This gets you:
– Business continuity (in case they jointly win the lottery, buy an island, and toss their cell phones into the ocean)
– Depth of knowledge (chances are, we’ve done it before)
– Breadth of expertise (…and in most industries)
– Evening and weekend coverage
– Expert-level assistance, on demand (also, we’re all onshore)

Authors: Jeffrey and Penny Garbus