If you own or operate a residential service business, you are probably acutely aware of the war for talent. Across the board we are seeing a rise in incentives to bring talent in and retain it. It is exciting to see those in the industry come up with creative and new ideas to stand out among their competition.
Aside from a signing bonus, the most impactful incentive a company can offer, we see some exciting and out-of-the-box spiffs and culture differentiators companies have been offering.
You may have heard that people born during WWII had to work where the work was available, and it didn’t matter if the workplace was abusive or toxic; it was called work for a reason, and you weren’t supposed to like it. The following two generations worked because they wanted to improve their standard of living and give their children a better education, a better place to live, and vacations. Today’s workforce has the luxury (this in no way, shape, or form applies to everyone) of working to have a quality of life that includes working less. By this, I mean, work life balance matters more to them than any other incentive. They don’t live to work; they work to live. They don’t seem to put importance on having “things.” To that point, we see trends that speak to employers recognizing this phenomenon.
Not all companies are of a size where they can offer no nights or weekends and no on-call to their workforce. However, if a company can provide attractive scheduling, they might win some techs in the war for talent. In many ways, the smaller companies have an advantage here. They are more flexible and less worried about losing overall market share. They can offer the work/life balance schedules that employees crave and still provide a monetarily rewarding career. The larger the company is, the more they are concerned about losing its market share. They must feed the beast of having a larger company, and telling customers they must wait a day, or until Monday, is a luxury they cannot afford. The length of time a company has been in business can also affect this policy. If they have been around for generations, their customers expect certain hours of operation, and it is tough to change a policy that has been in place for decades. Newer companies do not want to turn away business, but they are generally nimbler and can do things on a case-by-case basis. If technicians want to work on a job over the weekend or after hours, great, but it’s not something they are required to do.
Every business on the planet thinks they have a great company culture. However, what really matters to workers across the board is inclusiveness, recognition, and leaders that walk the walk. Inclusiveness, in this instance, means less about diversity (although that matters!) and more about giving workers the opportunity to be included for accountability to the bottom line. What they are doing, whether it’s a CSR, or Dispatcher, or a technician in the field, they are part of the company’s success. Without their contribution, the company would suffer. Giving them recognition during company meetings, a shout-out in a newsletter or even social media goes further than one might think.
We have visited several clients and have seen first-hand some great examples of a physical workspace making a difference in culture. One client of ours provides a home-away-from-home atmosphere with a state-of-the-art gym to workout, pool tables (I know it’s a 90’s cliché, but if it works), and free snacks anytime. Building a company culture takes work and time and comes from the top down. Leaders that connect with their employees have a considerable advantage. We are seeing across the board more intentional relationship building. We have a client who provides classes on improving credit scores and coaching on achieving personal life goals, knowing that sometimes that information is not intuitive. Many of our clients have multiple stories of how they have improved their employees’ lives and not just provided a great place to work. Word gets around when a leader genuinely cares about their employees. Whether it was having a car repaired for a technician or setting them up in a hotel if they have difficult times, those actions build culture and speak volumes about the character of the leadership.
My favorite spiff is the Google review contest that one of our clients is running. They tally over six months, and the technician with the most reviews (good ones, of course) gets a paid Air B&B and an extra week of PTO. The location for the week-long getaway is driving distance from their location, but it’s a paid vacation, and the extra PTO is a beautiful addition!
Health insurance will always matter; if possible, supplying it for the whole family is a big perk.
Technicians care about continuing education, especially regarding new training on new technology. In particular, the current generation entering the workforce wants to be up on the latest and greatest equipment offerings and will therefore be incredible advocates for parlaying this information to customers.
Other incentives/cultural perks that we think are top-notch and worth mentioning:
- Tickets to sporting events and live music
- Charity softball games where everyone plays
- Front-loaded PTO for new employees
- Flexibility in schedules
- Trips from supply houses given to top performers
- Multiple ways to make money with motivating spiffs (Cash, gift certificates, firepits, grills, Yeti coolers)
- New trucks (good luck getting them; we know!)
- Apprentice programs (get paid to learn)
- Relocation assistance
- Technicians know their schedule 60 days in advance
- Bonus opportunities for every position
- Tool allowance (our favorite is 1% of techs gross profit)
- Holiday parties with giveaways
- Company parties or gatherings (boating and Deep-Sea fishing trips, paintballing, hunting trips, Top Golf, skeet shooting)
- Vacation and benefits starting from the first day
- Company cornhole tournaments
- Food Truck Fridays
- Motorcycle rides for charity
- Sponsor youth teams for employees’ children
- Bonuses for Yelp and Google reviews and yard sign installs
- Spiff for interdepartmental leads (plumber creates a lead for HVAC, etc.)
- Mobile phone stipend
- Profit sharing
- Bonus for not missing a day of work or taking an unplanned vacation for specific periods (i.e., HVAC techs during the season)
- Unlimited PTO
Of course, we didn’t mention everything that’s possible, but these are some of the ideas that stood out to us and seem to spark interest from the technicians and other talent we interview daily. One thing that never changes, incentives that are aligned with geographic location, and the culture and core values of the company will be the ones that stick and are the most valuable to current and future employees.