Hiring and retaining employees in the HVAC market is an ongoing challenge. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that employment of heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration mechanics and installers will grow 13 percent between 2018 to 2028, much faster than the average for all occupations.

As the economic emerges from the COVID-19-induced slowdown, the industry’s workforce challenges will again be top-of-mind. Now is a great time for HVAC companies to update and expand their recruitment and retention strategies. Following are some suggestions compiled from various sources.

Tips on hiring new employees:

  • Use social media platforms. Employers should create an identity on social networks to reinforce the idea that the company is a “great place to work.” Tools to communicate the message include employee profiles, awards and recognition programs, and personalized photos and videos of employees on and off the job.
  • Ensure there is a “careers” page on the website. The page should describe the company, possible career paths, and list any current and ongoing openings.
  • Offer a referral bonus to current employees. Promote recruiting by word of mouth using a referral bonus, which could be offered in two stages – one amount for an initial hire and a second payment after the new employee has been on the job for a certain amount of time.
  • Spread around business cards. Information to entice new employees should fit on a business card, including how to apply and email and telephone contact information. The cards should include information on what sets an employer apart from other companies and could be distributed at job fairs or wherever one encounters a prospect.
  • Choose employees that fit into the corporate culture. Identifying intangibles is among the more difficult challenges during the interview process, but results are worth the effort.
  • Be open to all age groups, including older workers. Older employees may provide a higher level of knowledge and expertise, and companies should promote a culture that respects and values mature workers. Avoid recruitment phrases such as “new or recent graduates preferred” or “maximum years of experience.” Don’t make assumptions about who is “overqualified” or outside the expected salary range. For example, older workers seeking second careers may be more flexible about pay and represent a “bargain” in the workforce marketplace.

Tips on retaining employees:

  • Make your employees feel valued. Customers benefit when employers listen to their employees, find out what matters to them, and then respond to those needs.
  • Make sure employees are engaged and interested in their work. Enthusiastic employees are loyal to their workplace. A goal for employers should be to ensure that each employee derives satisfaction from their work. Engaging one-on-one with employees ensures a clear communication path and greater insights for employers.
  • Ensure there is a perceptible career path. An employer should provide career development opportunities and a clear path forward to a bright future for employees.
  • Provide opportunities for employees to learn. Employees should have chances to learn more about new technologies, new skills and/or changing industry trends.
  • Promote a sense of camaraderie. Employees tend to be more motivated if they are part of a team that can help to support their personal and professional growth and success. Encourage a team spirit and an environment in which employees “feel like family.”
  • Clearly communicate the company’s mission and values. Employees tend to stay at a company that shares their personal mission and values. Promoting a company’s mission internally creates a higher level of engagement by employees. Employees should believe in the corporate mission and feel their skills play a valuable role in achieving it.
  • Ensure managers are great leaders. The role of an employee’s direct supervisor to maximize morale and job satisfaction cannot be overemphasized. Toxic managers can be the source of excess turnover – they can be a huge cost to companies in terms of recruitment and retention. Managers should treat employees as people, should encourage them, lead them, and help them along their career path. They should be coaches, not overlords.
  • Recognize achievement. Employees appreciate recognition and positive reinforcement, which could include an awards program or other incentives.
  • Encourage multi-generational cooperation. Baby boomers are very different than millennials in terms of their work habits and expectations, but those differences should not be seen as impediments. Rather, there is much that employees of various ages can learn from each other if they are encouraged to work together more closely. Companies should respect the contributions of employees from any generation. Mentor/mentee programs can help with career growth.
  • Provide flexibility. Whether it’s flexible work schedules or teleworking, employees appreciate any accommodation an employer can provide. Employees who have more control over their work-life balance tend to experience higher satisfaction, and there is less turnover.
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