Employee satisfaction and motivation is a topic that has been discussed since the creation of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Employees are the backbone of any organization and an essential part of a company’s ability to be successful and grow. Maintaining a level of satisfaction is key if you want to have any measure of success as a business owner.
Keeping employees feeling satisfied and motivated remains a pain point for many in the mechanical world. Technicians are currently in high demand across the home service industry, creating little downtime in an environment that is suffering from a labor shortage. The COVID-19 pandemic created a perfect storm that resulted in more HVAC unit breakdowns and longer days for technicians.
During the apex of the pandemic, many employees across multiple industries had to work from home. Units that would normally get a break while the house was empty were now working an additional eight hours a day. That is the equivalent of driving a car 75,000 miles a year. With the added wear-and-tear on units, service calls increased dramatically.
The combination of more service calls and a limited supply of professionals attributed to workers in the mechanical world feeling stressed and unsatisfied. More service calls also meant long drive times while combating both the physical and mental elements that come with the job – working in the hot sun or communicating with an angry customer.
When it comes to our profession, employees rarely get stressed over the actual repair process. Oftentimes, the stress comes from all the outside factors that would put a mental strain on the worker. But there are ways to help motivate and encourage employees to perform their tasks while remaining engaged.
The Employee Experience
In our line of work, we tend to put our primary focus on the customer experience and making the customer happy. While these actions help drive revenue, we don’t need to forget the importance of employee satisfaction. Our team members are the greatest assets we have. I discovered a long time ago that if you take care of the employees, they will in turn take care of the customers.
Taking care of the employee means more than just offering them a decent paycheck. It encompasses a wide range of areas. It means providing the necessary equipment to ensure safety as well as giving the job a purpose. For example, a heating and air company I worked for purchased an ice machine so team members wouldn’t have to purchase ice to fill up their coolers every morning. We also made healthy snacks and drinks available throughout the day. That was just one small gesture we made to keep our employees satisfied.
All of these items help create loyalty. A team member will not want to leave if they feel like they are being taken care of regularly. The moment they feel differently, they will become disengaged and leave you for someone offering a dollar more per hour.
A Path to Success
One of the best ways to motivate an employee is to give them a purpose. That includes providing an individual career path. Many individuals working in the mechanical world don’t have a real career path. Their life revolves around a continuous cycle that includes doing similar tasks daily. So, if business owners can discover what success looks like to the employees, they can help them achieve their goals through a detailed career plan. On the flip side, this allows owners to hold the employee accountable to key performance indicators.
In addition to a career path, business owners should help inform employees financially. While compensation is a great motivator, it isn’t the only sticking point for most people. Providing tools that allow team members to be educated about financial matters shows that you care about their future outside of work. Teach employees how to set money aside, save and invest in their future.
The Power of Positive Reinforcement
Another mitigating factor in motivation is determining what motivates the entire team. It is important to communicate with team members about what they want and what can encourage them to perform at their best. More times than not, the team members will be honest in their responses. One example I have pertains to the use of contests and prizes. One company I was working with in Florida had a big special going on to see how many service agreements they could sell. For each agreement that was sold, the employee got to put their name in a raffle for some great prizes. The reward for selling an increased amount of service agreements greatly outweighs the cost of the prizes, and it got team members motivated to go out and sell, sell, sell.
Creating a Positive Culture
I believe business is a function of its people. You’ve got to take care of your people. We need to stop focusing on what we are not getting right and start focusing on the 99% of the things we excel in. We can still talk about the things that need improvement or can be done differently, but we’ll have that conversation in a private one-on-one setting. As a team, we need to celebrate the wins. It’s about enforcing the behavior that you want to see in your company. I’m always trying to create a positive culture, and all my actions reflect that. For business owners, the majority of their focus should be geared toward creating the desired behaviors they want because that’s where they will get the results.
Stephen Dale is director of training for Power Selling Pros. Stephen brings over 20 years of experience as an operations manager in the home services industry working for two large MEP companies in the Dallas area. He has been a coach and trainer with Power Selling Pros for six years, working with hundreds of companies and vendors during his tenure. His passion for the industry illuminates through his ability to discover client’s pain points and offer solutions for success.
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