Anyone who knows me knows at least one thing about me: I love vacation. I am not a person who you would want to be around if I haven’t recently returned from vacation or I don’t have one planned in the near future.
At my last job, they were real sticklers about it. No matter how many years you worked there, you got five days of paid time off. That’s it. But I’m like that girl in the Ice Breakers mints commercial who busts out a unicorn and demands three weeks. I would argue my way into “earning” more vacation days every year. But I still felt bad for all the employees who didn’t do the same and only got five days.
Now, I understand that business is business, and sometimes you have to be a stickler about vacation. I’m sure a lot of HVAC companies have blackout dates for vacation during the summer, if not the whole summer. And if it’s not completely out of the question, I don’t think summer vacations are being approved left and right. Every business has its ups and downs. But, for someone like me, restrictions on vacation are not easily balanced.
A lot of employees might “understand” that it’s the busy season. But it doesn’t mean they feel like sacrifice is worth it. They could just feel like all my co-workers at my last job did — like they had no choice and, even worse, like it wasn’t fair.
So, what can you do to make up for the long summer days and lack of vacation to avoid technician burn out? Make the summer the best time of the year to work at your company — make it meaningful and rewarding for your employees. And why don’t you kill two birds with one stone by focusing your efforts in such a way that you not only keep your techs happy, but you keep them safe, too.
Dehydration is a serious issue that some people don’t take seriously enough. Don’t be one of those people. Instead of telling your techs to drink water or Gatorade throughout the day, guarantee they’ll drink by providing them with the beverages. I know it’s an unnecessary expense, but it’s really more of an investment. And to be totally honest, you can get water for pretty cheap nowadays …
Maybe you buy a small cooler for every truck, and you fill them every morning for the techs — maybe they fill them up themselves with the supply you keep in the shop. Maybe they can take as many as they want, maybe they’re limited to a certain number of bottles a day. For small companies, it would be a nice touch if you could find out what your employees’ favorites are and buy those drinks occasionally.
At lunch the other day, my co-worker had a reusable water bottle that flashes red to alert her when it’s been too long since she last drank — similar to how the smart watch will nudge you to get up and take some steps.
Even when it comes to something as simple as water, or Gatorade, or whatever, contractors have countless ways to show their employees they care while keeping them safe and hydrated.
EAT BALANCED MEALS
We’ve all been guilty of “forgetting to eat.” You go to work, you get busy, and, before you know it, you’re lying in bed when your stomach rips through your abdominal wall and tries to eat your face. It sucks. But, it’s easy to do.
As an HVAC tech working in 100°F weather, knowing that I wouldn’t be going on vacation for a couple months, few things would bring me more joy than say a food service that showed up on my job site because my boss wanted to make sure I ate, or an impromptu meeting that really just turned out to be a company barbeque when I showed up, or coming in to work on a Monday only to find that the boss packed lunches for everyone.
Aside from loving vacation, another exceptionally interesting thing about me is that I love free meals. And I think most people do.
You don’t have to dish out seven courses, but a company-provided lunch every now and again can really boost employees’ spirits and performance.
In addition to the obvious — like providing food and drink — there are a lot of little things that you as HVAC contractors can do to show your employees that you value them, you want to keep them safe and healthy, you appreciate their long days, and you are willing to invest a part of your company back into them.
You could run a “snap a selfie” contest where techs submit selfies from when they are on break and everyone votes on the funniest face, the weirdest background, the best way to spend a break, etc. Not only does that encourage a fun, engaging environment, it helps you ensure that your techs are in fact taking breaks throughout the day.
In the end, you know your employees better than I do. The opportunities are endless. And although it’s sometimes easier to brainstorm ideas that cost money, there are so many ways to make the workplace enjoyable without ever spending a dime.
Do what you can to make work a vacation for your employees: keep them safe, keep them happy, and keep them coming back.
Publication date: 5/28/2018