Working in the pipeline rehabilitation industry is hard work: long days, time away from family and difficult working conditions. So a positive work environment is vital to maintaining an engaged and productive team. Though a healthy work-life balance is not always realistic out on the road, considering the physical and mental well-being of your crew can help maintain high levels of employee morale and team unity. High morale directly equates to reduced turnover and absenteeism, enhanced customer experience and increased revenue.
Luckily, there are a few steps you can take to help with retention and build a positive work environment for your team:
Exhibit Strong Leadership
Company culture is shaped by those in leadership positions. Defining clear expectations of appropriate conduct and leading by example promotes a feeling of solidarity throughout the team. When you spend extended amounts of time with co-workers, most people want to feel a sense of unity and belonging. A strong leadership team can creatively and strategically construct a positive company culture that retains quality employees.
Clear and consistent communication about company values, mission, strategy and deliverables helps employees understand and embrace shared goals. Ongoing communication between you and your crew promotes a collaborative environment and strengthens relationships. And it’s important to always maintain a tone of respect in written and verbal communication, especially during periods of high stress.
Strong leadership and clear communication establishes a foundation of trust. Your crew should trust that decisions made that affect the entire company are being made strategically and thoughtfully. And you should trust in your hiring decisions; that your team has the skills and expertise to do their jobs. If your crew knows you trust and believe in them to excel in their work, they’ll reciprocate that trust in you as a leader.
Offer Competitive Compensation
It goes without saying that offering competitive wages, overtime pay, expense reimbursement and robust benefits goes a long way in keeping your crew’s morale high and reducing turnover. Labor is a major expense for any rehab company, and a natural target when cost-cutting is needed. However, the cost of replacing under-compensated employees when they depart is almost always higher: recruiting, training and overtime to cover the workload during the transition. Plus, a seasoned and loyal team always does better work.
A culture of safety is a key component to any wastewater and sewer rehabilitation business. Moreover, the Occupational Safety and Health Act makes employers responsible for providing a safe and healthful workplace. Safety training of new crew members—and on an ongoing basis for your entire team—is required to adhere to the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) governance, and also conveys to employees that their well-being is your foremost concern. Practice all safety protocols with diligence and applaud others that do the same.
Recognize, Thank and Reward
Everyone likes to feel appreciated and be recognized for a job well done, no matter how big or small. A comment at the staff meeting, taking the crew to lunch or a spot bonus are simple ways to express thanks. Celebrate small wins and good behavior.
Cross-training your crew so they can tackle different types of problems and operate various kinds of equipment will aid in retaining quality team members by keeping them interested and challenged. Ask experienced crew members to train new ones, not only on equipment and on-the-job skills, but also on customer service, account management and the financials of the business. Urge your veteran crew to pursue new accounts or research equipment that could lead to new business opportunities.
Encourage Professional Development
Staying relevant, flexible and agile amidst an ever-changing business and technology landscape is imperative—especially in the water and wastewater industry. To excel at employee retention and customer satisfaction, stay abreast of the newest methodologies, invest in the latest tools, and offer education and training opportunities.
The economic advantages to retaining happy, loyal, productive employees and having a positive work environment are clear. It requires investment, thoughtfulness and an ongoing commitment, but the results are vital to the long-term health of your team, customer satisfaction, and will have a positive impact on your company’s bottom line.
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