In my businesses, I have always tried to pay in the dead center of the curve. Fifty percent of the companies pay better, and the others pay worse. I then try to provide a work environment that is respectful, challenging and fun.
In this market I think retention of good DBAs with that philosophy would still be difficult. Good DBAs can easily move further up the curve and still find a work environment that is respectful, challenging and fun. As he says, we all have families to feed, super to put away and over valued property to pay off or rent.
I couldn't agree more with this bit though - Lesson 5:
Stress is your biggest enemy. The world of the DBA is an incredibly stressful one and it is even worse in smaller organizations. If you have only one DBA, he or she knows that they alone have to keep the database up and running, or the business will stop running. This causes the Atlas Syndrome, named after the Greek myth of the Titan condemned by Zeus to hold up the heavens on his shoulders.
Providing adequate staffing and opportunities for mentoring can help your DBAs reduce the stress and burden. Companies can also augment their in-house DBA staff by contracting with a remote DBA firm, a new breed of vendor offering database expertise and support. The remote DBA firms, staffed with seasoned database experts, can even offer your in-house DBA mentoring, on-the-job training, and critical support.
Ahem, cough, self endorsement here. I work for Mark Gurry & Associates, an excellent remote DBA and on-site DBA services firm. The company only hires top DBAs (another self endorsement) SO if you are reading this and thinking you would like to take some peak stress off your DBA, or you are a DBA but would like some help now and then, give us a call.
MGA's site: http://www.mga.com