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Paying HVACR Technicians Part Two

To be fair, as I begin this segment on the subject of paying technicians I’ll make it clear that I’m in favor of a commission-based system rather than an hourly wage. Actually, I’m not in favor of an incentive system just for technicians; I’m an advocate of that philosophy in any employee/employer situation. And the reason I believe the way I do about this topic is because of what could be referred to as my overall opinion about money in general. So, I’ll spend some time here on the subject of money, and the right and wrong ways that people think about money.

I often hear employers express the opinion that they can tell that a potential employee (especially if there is an age difference between the applicant and the interviewer) is really interested in nothing beyond how much they’re going to get paid. This opinion is often expressed as “You can’t find good help anymore,” or, “This generation only cares about how much money they’re going to make,” or, “It’s not about doing a good job for them, it’s just money.”

Well, I’ve got some news for people who think that way. You’re right about one thing relative to this issue. You’re right about what you’re going to encounter when you’re processing applications, interacting with potential employees, etc…. And the reason that’s what you’re going to get is because that’s what you’re expecting. For some, this idea may sound like a bunch of baloney, but in my experience, it’s a reality. If somebody decides to write off an entire generation, then that’s the experiences they’re going to have with that generation. There are plenty of GenX”s, Gen Y’s, or Gen whatever people out there that have a good work ethic, understand that you need to put something in before you take something out, and can be enthusiastic about their careers. I know many of them personally, so I’m not just speculating here.

What does it take to find and keep a motivated, enthusiastic employee?

It’s simple.

Be the kind of employer who understands, and is willing to invest in the idea that HVACR technicians are just like every other human being when it comes to their work and career.

People like to be in an environment where they know (notice I said know, not just think or believe, but know) that they are respected, and they have an opportunity to learn, grow and develop as a professional. If the person who runs the show makes a habit of telling their hourly wage people that they need to be doing their job better so there will be more revenue, which may or may not result in a pay bump six months or a year down the road, that’s not respect and opportunity. That’s telling people that they’re just being used.

And, what needs to be understood about people who foster this type of environment is that their actions are rooted in their belief (actually fear) about money in the first place. People who live in fear that the money might run out, or think that business in general is a zero-sum game, meaning that there is only just so much money to go around and that they need to struggle, fight and claw to make sure they get as big a piece of the pie as possible, are always thinking about lack and limitation rather than abundance and opportunity. And that mistaken belief and attitude shows in the way they treat their employees.

Is it possible that in some situations the above doesn’t really apply and somebody is really just a greedy jerk?

O.K., following the philosophy that anything is possible, I’ll give you that. I could consider the idea that this might be the case one, or maybe two-percent of the time, but even that’s pretty iffy as far as I’m concerned. The fact of the matter is, people act the way the do because of their beliefs, and those beliefs came from somewhere, even if, in the final analysis they’re  just trying to be as nice as possible while they’re living in fear, or they come off as a real live greedy jerk.

By the way, this fear-about-money attitude isn’t reserved for employers only. We’ll talk about that next time.

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