It is up to the HVAC industry to take the Great Resignation and turn it into the Great Reshuffle.
I am sure you have heard of the Great Resignation. It is one of the effects of the COVID pandemic. In 2021, an average of 3.9 million workers quit their job in a given month.
No doubt some of the resignation in 2021 are people leaving the workforce permanently. Perhaps they are older individuals who do not want to navigate the COVID work world. Labor force participation looks to be about 62%.
However, a big chunk of those quits are people that looked at their jobs and lives and decided they wanted more. Things have changed during this pandemic and everyone is rethinking almost every aspect of their life. And a person’s job is a pretty huge part of their life.
It feels like a “take this job and shove it mentality” is permeating this country. As a business owner, this is not great to hear, but you have to be honest and realize workers have never had more power. They are a powerful resource that is in high demand.
So the HVAC contractor is seeing this both ways. First, your employees might be rethinking their lot in life. They might be talking with their friends and family about their career and whether it is meeting all their needs. So many industries needs workers that options are plentiful.
The good news in this equation is that HVAC contractors might be able to go fishing in a bigger pond for their next employee. Many of the more successful contractors have been doing this for years. When they are looking for an HVAC tech or dispatcher, they are not simply looking within the industry but rather are keeping an eye outside the industry as well. If someone is a hard worker, has great people skills, and is a motivated individual, they do not necessarily need to have an abundance of HVAC knowledge. That part of the job can be taught. It is nearly impossible to teach attitude, communication skills, and motivation.
But realize those folks are in demand. Not just by the HVAC industry, but every other industry that is looking for a new influx of workers. That means contractors will need to be offering a lot more to those candidates. I am not talking purely financial (although that always helps) but rather things you never imagined doing when you first started your business.
In our most recent issue, we highlighted some contractors that are doing just that in our annual Best Contractors to Work For list. Let’s take a quick look and what they are doing to provide some inspiration…
Huft Home Services in Elk Grove, Sacramento, and Yuba City, California was having trouble finding skilled HVAC technicians. So instead of complaining about the lack of labor, they were proactive and created an in-house HVAC trade school. No experience is necessary, and students are paid for being at training. The school can accommodate 12 students as a time, and the coursework lasts 12 weeks. That is a great way to bring in people that have the soft skills to succeed but need to work on the HVAC part of the gig.
- Health of employees has always been important, but it has taken on added significance during the COVID pandemic. Contractor GSM Services in Gastonia, North Carolina, is making an investment in the health of their employees. They reimburse costs for employees to have a gym membership provided the employee goes to the gym several times a week. I would not be eligible for that reason, but it is a great perk. They also provide free healthy snacks at the office.
- Employees want to be comfortable at the job. During hot summer days, Jackson Comfort Services in Northfield, Ohio, has managers load the cars with Gatorade, snacks, and water and deliver the refreshments to the job sites. There are also monthly company breakfasts where all the managers cook for the employees.
- Boston Standard Co. finds its employees through referrals. They have found people want to work with their friends and family. Who knew? After messing around with sites like Indeed, the referral program has helped their business grow.
Just as with marketing, training, or anything else you do in your business, it is time to start thinking outside the box on what you provide your internal customers. Gather your senior staff for a brainstorming session. As you can see from the list, most of these items are not that expensive to implement. There are workers out there for your company. You just need to find them and make an incredible pitch.