Barb Checket-Hanks

There are just a couple of weeks left for you to enterThe NEWS’Best Contractor to Work For contest. So, are the best contractors these days anybody who will employ you? Not necessarily.

As we learned earlier this year, even people who are still working may not be feeling all that warm and fuzzy about their workplaces. It may not necessarily be ingratitude; maybe it is just part of the general feeling of discontent that seems to have crept into so many of our lives, a result of living with uncertainty, fear, and stress for a long period of time.

Whatever the cause, consider that the people who are working for you right now are the ones who made it past some pretty painful staffing cuts. Presumably, they are the best of the best at your company, the cream of your staff. Now ask yourself honestly, when hiring opens up further and people start moving around, could you afford to lose them?

Earlier this year, we cited a report that was released in early January by The Conference Board that said U.S. job satisfaction has been at its lowest level in two decades. “Challenging and meaningful work is vitally important to engaging American workers,” said John Gibbons, program director of employee engagement research and services, The Conference Board.


It points to the continued importance of the qualities that some contractors have regarding their work families (a.k.a., employees). Every year, we have the privilege of learning about you, including those of you who may come just a few points shy of winning in their respective regions.

Among HVACR contractors this translates into a variety of behaviors, such as providing ample education and clear-cut opportunities for advancement; rewarding employee traits such as honesty and integrity; and pinpointing and investing in key individuals.

So you can see, it goes beyond providing benefits and the security of a steady workload. Indeed, the latter item might be more difficult to achieve these days, but even last year, our winners found ways to prevent cuts, or at least soften them. It is a work environment that encourages growth, opportunity, recognition, education, and a winning attitude for all employees.

Some companies, those that rise like cream, go even further. They offer a place where employees feel proud to work. Beyond the privilege of having a job, they feel downright lucky to work where they do. This could be because of the way they are allowed to treat customers, or the way they are treated themselves - in either case, with respect. It could be that the company becomes active in local or national causes, like the Boys or Girls Clubs of America. Or it could be due to business practices that show that the company is a responsible citizen. The contractor who sells and installs high-efficiency systems, and then is wasteful and inefficient with its own resources, may not have the highest credibility among its employees.

The behaviors that employees love to tell us about more than anything else are those things that employees know that the company did not have to do: things like giving an employee extra vacation or personal time during a personal hardship; showing that like a good family, we stick together in tough times. That is what a lot of us have been doing recently - helping each other out the way family does.

Are you one of the truly lucky ones, someone who has been able to prove your loyalty to a good company? If you are, nominate your company inThe NEWS’2010 “Best Contractor to Work For” contest. Tell us why they inspire your loyalty.

Entering is a snap. Visithttp://bestcontractor.achrnews.comand fill out the online form. When you have completed the form, click “Submit” and you will have officially entered your company into the contest.

The deadline for entries, Nov. 15, is fast approaching. Winners (four U.S. contractors and one Canadian contractor) will be announced inThe NEWS’AHR Expo show issue on Jan. 31, 2011.

Publication date:10/11/2010