It seems everywhere you turn nowadays, you hear about the labor shortage facing the skilled trades industry. It’s a common theme I hear when I talk to contractors at HVACR industry events, and on the phone as I work on various articles. It doesn’t matter what the topic is, the labor shortage usually works its way into our conversation. I actually just finished a story about where contractors are finding their new hires – watch for it soon!

Industry professionals have been placing their focus on recruiting new people to the trades – as they should. But, let’s not forget about the other half of the equation – keeping your current talent. Because let me tell you, one of the ways HVAC contractors are finding new employees is poaching or stealing them from their competitors. They lure them away with promises of better compensation packages and a better work environment.

Now, while competitive compensation is important, it’s not the only factor. According to Glassdoor’s 2015 Employment Confidence Survey, nearly four in five employees would prefer new or additional benefits to a pay increase. These types of benefits include health care insurance, including medical, dental, and vision; paid vacation/time off; performance bonus; paid sick days; 401(K) plan or other retirement plans; flexible schedule; office perks, such as free lunch or casual dress; employee development programs, including on-the-job training and professional development; tuition reimbursement; employee discounts; gym memberships or wellness programs; childcare assistance; and more.

And don’t think just because you are a service company that your business cannot offer things like flexible schedules. I know of several HVAC contracting companies who do just that for all of its employees and allow some office personnel to work from home when weather is bad or children are sick. It’s time to take a good, hard look at your benefit options, because if you don’t, you may just lose your top talent to your competitors.