How to Improve Staff Conditions for Trade Businesses

Over 16 years, I’ve definitely worked with more professional services firms than any other category. And in a “work from home” world, the perks for being an accountant or lawyer are on the rise.

But you can’t send your termites to a pest control company by email, so their technicians can deal with the problem in their home office. And that means plenty of tradies are missing out – not because the business owner doesn’t want to improve their working conditions, but because the common perks (like better coffee in the air-conditioned, architect-designed, luxuriously-furnished office kitchen) simply don’t apply.

So having worked with a dozen or so trade businesses as clients over the years, including several right now, I thought I would share a list of some of the work conditions and benefits we’ve implemented to improve the lives (and loyalty and engagement( of their tradies.

What else have you seen, or would you like to add? Leave a comment below!

  • Provide the team with Vehicles
  • Better yet, especially in Queensland, provide your tradie team members with vehicles that have Air-Conditioning that WORKS!
  • If you expect the team to wear a uniform, provide the uniform. (Within fair limits of course.) One client just announced they’ll be paying for better boots for everyone – tradies save costs on mediocre shoes, and then get fatigued faster working in lousy shoes all day.
  • Mobile phone – you expect them to be available, make it easy. Better still, use some of the app-based workflow solutions that make their job easier by leveraging phone technology.
  • Provide training and mentoring as a standard. Too many tradies are “out of sight, out of mind” for leaders in the office. Include (but don’t force it) some personal development or even finance stuff.
  • Consistent Management goes a long way. Your team don’t need to be patted on the back for a short-cut solution one day, and then reamed out for the same approach by another manager a week later.
  • Replace broken / lost / crap gear quickly. Have fair policies in place, of course, but don’t secretly encourage your team to hide this from you – or to wait for toolbox talks to steal the shovel from a neighbouring ute!
  • Better still, keep testing new gear and products that might make the jobs easier or faster. Let them know not every idea will be worthwhile, but you want their suggestions.
  • Have team functions, and invite partners! OK, not feasible if you have 10,000 staff, but if your team have a terrible day it’s their partner who’ll say “Overall they’re a good company to work for” OR “Screw ‘em, just quit.” So it’s also in your best interest to get partners involved as well.
  • Sack the dickheads. Your whole team know who they are. And the good team members feel like they’re pulling the deadweight. Lighten their load – this may be the hardest for you to implement, and yet the most valuable.

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