Why Are Your Technicians Leaving?

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By now, we all know that customer reviews are an integral part of growing a healthy service business. But there's another kind of review that can have a huge impact on your bottom line: employee reviews.

How often do you check up on your company reviews on websites like Glassdoor and Indeed? Current and former employees are able to anonymously critique your company with star ratings and detailed questionnaires covering everything from pay scale to management style. This not only gives potential applicants a peek into what it's like to work with you, but is a powerful tool for you to gain insight about where you can provide a better experience for your employees. 

Whether the reviewer has been an employee for a few months or a few years, you can learn from these reviews to stop turnover on your team before it happens.

What Can We Learn From These Reviews?

No one’s leaving because of the work itself - they’re responding to problems deeper within the company. No matter your industry, the following are consistent deal-breakers for employers and job seekers:

  • Inadequate training

  • Poor management

  • No work/life balance

  • Pay/commission structure

  • No room for advancement

Are these issues you've heard from your techs in reviews, exit interviews, or employee surveys? If so, don't panic! Many of them are normal growing pains of small businesses, and all of them are things you can positively influence.


1. Implement a better training plan 

Contrary to common belief, your employees want to be better trained.  One reviewer said that their management’s response was to “pretend like you know the answer” when faced with a question they’re unprepared for in the field.  

If your training philosophy is “fake it till you make it”, your team (not to mention your customer base) is in danger of dissolving.  The training doesn't have to start with custom presentations and fancy videos - try utilizing a local university, your vendors, your insurance network, or an extension agency for monthly topical training.  Your employees want to know that management is invested in them and their future.  Do whatever you can to show them that.

Once you have some documentation of your own in place, an LMS (learning management system) can help distribute and schedule that training automatically, so your employees can take charge of their own professional development.  (And if you need a little help getting started on your own.

2. Visualize and circulate your company ladder and management structure.

No one wants to work at a job where there is no clear possibility of advancement.  And most likely, if you have an employee who seems to be coasting or “just getting by,” it’s because they’re not invested- they know they don’t need to do anything more than what they’re already doing because there’s nowhere to go.

At your next company meeting, let your employees know about any upcoming management or leadership openings you have.  Make sure they know they’re welcome to talk to their team lead about being considered for a promotion.  The higher your employees can see up the ladder, the higher they’ll strive to go.

3. Set a good example of work/life balance, and enforce it like any other work standard

How do you and your leadership team react to an employee asking for time off?  Do your employees get side-eye every time they submit a sick day request? This is a surefire way to run your team down and foster ill-will and poor attitudes toward work. 

Last week, the CEO of Olark made headlines with his response to an employee who took a sick day to focus on her mental health. He not only applauded her for reminding her team that mental health is just as important as any other part of our selves, he wound up publishing an article on Medium that elaborated on why this is so important to Olark - and why it should be important to every company. 

At Coalmarch, management is adamant that when we take a vacation, we take a vacation.  If we're answering calls and emails when we're supposed to be off the grid, we're setting a bad example for the rest of our team - (unconsciously) showing them that we need to be on call, no matter where in the world we happen to be. 

What are your company's values when it comes to time off, be it sick leave, personal leave, or vacation? Are you encouraging or discouraging your team from taking the time they need to heal or refuel? When you consider the positive impact of time away from work, it becomes more clear why allowing your team to take that time is an investment in your own success. 

4. Promote (or build up) your company culture

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the workforce for pest control will increase by over 26% by 2020.  The largest generation right now looking for work is millennials, and it's no secret that great company culture is at the top of their employment wish list.  Is your company culture one that can attract and retain a majority-millennial influx within the next 3 years? 

Last year, we traveled to Washington state's tri-cities to visit our client, Senske Services, and learn about their operations and training curriculum.  At one point on our campus tour, we walked in on a group of employees decorating pumpkins - they even offered one for us to decorate! Halloween was just around the corner, and management bought a truckload of pumpkins and craft supplies and let their team go at it.

At our sister company, Triangle Pest Control, the team gathers for a Monthly Meat-ing, where everyone goes over their monthly goals and their performance and enjoys a family meal.  If goals are exceeded, they get steaks.  If they’re merely meeting their goals, they get burgers or chicken. If the goals were not met that month, they’re getting hot dogs.

And here at Coalmarch, committees plan parties, activities (field day, anyone?), volunteer opportunities, and more. We celebrate every birthday, have catered lunch once a month, and, every Friday, managers and employees alike spill into any one of our favorite local watering holes for a little happy hour action. It's the little things that make Coalmarch feel less like a regular 9-to-5 and more like a fun place we happen to all hang out each day. 

But they said some nice things too!

It’s easy to focus solely on the negatives of these reviews, but a few of those unhappy employees found a few positives in their work environments.  Let’s take a look at the things that stood out to them, despite being unhappy with their employer:

  • Flexible schedules

  • Company phone, vehicle, and gas card provided

  • Uniform allowance

  • Savings program with company matching

Take stock of your company's perks. How do they stack up against this list? If you are offering a wide range of perks, take a look at how many of your employees are using them. If that number is low, chances are your team doesn't even know they're available. If you're not offering any, talk with your industry peers to see how you can improve your workplace and make it a more engaging place for your team to come every day. 

All businesses experience turnover, but in most cases it can be avoided. Building the kind of workplace your team would want to stick with - and recommend to others! - isn't hard, it just takes a little extra thoughtfulness. Survey your employees. Talk with your peers. And, most importantly, take your manager hat off for a minute and think like a regular person on the street. Your team wants to do a great job for you - they just need to see that you want to do the same in return.

In short: Be a kickass boss and you'll have a strong, dedicated, kickass team.