Bad bosses and job duties that don’t meet employee expectations are the two main reasons technicians leave their jobs, according to Dick Finnegan, CEO of C-Suite Analytics, an employee engagement and retention consulting firm. Speaking at the NationaLease Maintenance Managers meeting earlier this year, Finnegan said fleets should build their retention solutions around those two findings.

The first step to cutting technician turnover is to understand which types of employees are most likely to stay with you. Finnegan cited the Department of Labor saying, “The length of time a worker remains with the same employer increases with the age at which the worker began the job.” Finnegan says that by time they are 38, younger workers will have had 10 to 12 jobs.

Step two involves telling the truth about the position you are filling. You must cover things like working conditions (weather, noise, sitting, standing, sweating) and things such as volume and speed of work, as well as the length of time between breaks.

You also need to tell prospects and new employees about the people they will be working with, how closely they will be supervised, the types of customers they will be servicing and the volume of work they will be expected to handle. More obvious issues to cover are pay and benefits, as well as a realistic idea of growth opportunities within the company.

“You need to make sure you are completely honest here,” Finnegan says. “Determine what it is that they don’t know about the job that they need to know, even if it is something that will make them pass on the job opportunity. What you want to develop is a realistic job description, not a fairy tale version.”

From job fairs, to online postings, to radio advertisements and employee referrals, there are a number of ways to recruit new employees. Finnegan’s company has the data to show that people brought on via employee referrals tend to stay longer and perform better.

And speaking of referrals, when you are awarding employees for referral candidates, make sure you do so with something they really want. Finnegan says these awards should be open to everyone in your organization and even extended to referrals from customers. Set a goal for the percent of hires you want to come through referrals and hold managers accountable for that goal.

When you are ready to make a job offer, it should include the pay and benefits you are offering but Finnegan suggests adding something along the lines of, “We hope you accept the offer but please say ‘yes’ only if you see yourself with use for at least X years.”

You are not asking prospects to guarantee that they will stay for that period of time, but simply asking them to envision the length of their engagement with you. He adds that when you present the offer this way, some 20 percent will say “no,” but “if they say ‘yes,’ they have made their first step toward a commitment to you.” In addition, he suggests that the prospective employee’s manager be the one to make the final job offer.

One way to help ensure your managers hire people who will stay on the job rather than just try to get a vacant position filled, is to hold them accountable for employee retention.

Finnegan suggests setting retention goals for each manager. Remember a bad boss is one of the main reasons people leave a job and trust plays a big part in that. “If managers can’t build trust with their employees, fix them or fire them,” Finnegan advises. A way to make the loss of an employee real is to understand the dollar value when an employee quits and then report employee turnover in dollars on your financial statements.

If you use recruiters, hold them accountable for turnover as well. After all, they are the ones who determine who gets interviewed and who doesn’t.

The final step is having your managers forecast retention. They need to determine which of their employees are likely to leave, who is on the fence, and who they think will definitely stay. “Then they need to develop a retention plan if they care about retaining a person,” he says.

From his experience, Finnegan has ranked six ideas that yield the best results. Here is what he found:

  1. Hiring manager accountability
  2. Hiring manager forecasting
  3. Recruiter accountability
  4. Realistic job previews
  5. Employee referrals
  6. Offer letter

One other thing you might want to consider to help meet your retention goals is a “stay interview.” According to Finnegan, a stay interview is a structured discussion a manger has with each employee, once or twice a year, to determine specific actions that must be taken to help ensure that employee remains with the company.

These interviews should include questions about what the employee looks forward to when coming to work; what they are learning on the job; what more they want to learn; why they stay on; when they last thought about leaving; and why and what the company could be doing to make the work job experience better.

About the author
Denise Rondini

Denise Rondini

Aftermarket Contributing Editor

A respected freelance writer, Denise Rondini has covered the aftermarket and dealer parts and service issues for decades. She now writes regularly about those issues exclusively for Heavy Duty Trucking, with information and insight to help fleet managers make smart parts and service decisions, through a monthly column and maintenance features.

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